“Beauty will save the world,” says Sarah Clarkson in her book, This Beautiful Truth, and it is so true.
In a world full of ugliness, death, and decay, God uses artists to create something beautiful, alive, and new. Beautiful words, music, and objects are how artists share and show the light of God. The artist’s call is to bring glory to the Great Artist and reflect his creation.Between the overwhelming ugliness of the world, and constantly striving to create enough beauty to shine a bit of Christ's hope into it, artists get tired. Click To Tweet
But between the overwhelming ugliness of the world, and constantly striving to create enough beauty to shine a bit of hope into it, we can get tired. Very tired.
I have been there, and I know so many artists in that place right now, it’s sad. Sometimes this soul-weariness happens because we feel misunderstood, or alone. Sometimes it happens because we feel our efforts to create beauty are not enough—barely making a dent in the darkness which surrounds.
So, this is for the artist who feels alone. You aren’t, there are many people out there who feel like you, think like you, and experience the world like you. It’s also for those who don’t understand why we are tired, this is what goes on in our heads, this is the war that wages in our minds every day.
This is an artist.
The Artist’s Heart
Sometimes I feel like a child. Chasing fireflies with a pounding heart. Quietly giggling at a single butterfly. Losing my breath at a star-filled sky. Seeing and hearing all as if for the first time. Shivers running down my spine at a single note from a violin. A blossom opening within my chest at the sound of a baby’s laugh. My smile uncontrollable when the song of a tern or lark meets my ears. Forever young at heart.
Yet sometimes I feel like I’m a thousand years old. Seen too much. Heard too much. Felt too much. Longing for a simpler time when the world felt smaller, less dark, and less complicated. When romance was beautiful, work was hard, and the air was clean. When there was no social media to tell us what evil dwells in the broader world or what our own worst-case scenarios are. Forever an old soul.
This is an artist, a dreamer, a romantic.The imagination that causes an artist to pause with awe and joy and wonder is the same that causes them to pause with grief and fear and trepidation. Click To Tweet
What breaks my heart is the imagination that causes us to pause with awe and joy and wonder is the same that causes us to pause with grief and fear and trepidation. One moment it sets us free and brings us rest in a beautiful Rivendell, the next it traps us in our very own Mordor, void of light and life and hope.
That’s our battle. A war between what is beautiful and what is evil. An artist’s imagination is a powerful weapon, but it is one that can be wielded against us. The same mind that conjured the Elves also conjured Sauron. But just because one’s imagination can be weaponized, doesn’t mean the war itself is imaginary. It is very real because we have a very real enemy. One who loathes when our creations glorify our beautiful Savior.
But just like in Tolkien’s story, light will shine in our Mordor and our Sauron will fall. Even if it must happen over and over.
Do you know a dreamer? They’re not crazy, but they are an ironic complexity.
An artist’s heart is both hard and soft. Both beauty and evil can reach into them and touch their very core, leaving a stain, making us colorful inside. The heavens declare the glory of God on a whole other level for them. You may think they are lost in their own little bubble, but really, they are stilled by the undeniable beauty of the Creator. It is His creativity that inspires their creativity, His love their love, His joy their joy, and His grief their grief.
Are you an artist? If so, you’re not alone.There must be cracks in that castle you’ve built, to let the music inside flow to those around you. There have to be villains in the tale you’ve spun, evil for your hero to resist. In order for there to be beauty, ugliness must exist. Click To Tweet
I know it seems like you feel deeper than others feel, love more than others love, and dream bigger than others dream. I know you fear things others don’t see, grieve things others never knew, and feel more broken than anyone could understand. But you are beautifully broken, and I’ll tell you why.
There must be cracks in that castle you’ve built, cracks that let the music inside you flow out to those around you. There have to be villains in the tale you’ve spun, an evil for your hero of goodness to resist. In order for there to be beauty, ugliness must exist.
A while back, For King & Country wrote a song called To the Dreamers:
“We’re beat up but won’t be broken. Lonesome but always searching. Homesick but nobody’s heading home soon. Keep on, keeping on, keeping on. Long days and too many short nights, And wrong ways that almost felt right. Lovesick but no one you’re holding on to. So, keep on, keeping on, keeping on. And sing along, sing along, sing along. To the dreamers, Wide-eyed believers Hanging onto hope by a thread. To the soulful, Heart open hopeful; Keep on charging ahead.”
When we’re up late at night because there is too much going through our minds to sleep, or some less pleasant figment from our imaginations is keeping us from closing our eyes, our brokenness doesn’t feel very beautiful. It can be exhausting to be beaten and lonesome, to always be searching, to not be quite sure where home is, to hit dead ends while chasing dreams, to long for a love that never comes. And through it all, to try desperately to hang onto hope, even if it is only by a single thin thread.
Rest for the Soul
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29Jesus is there for you, artist, always and forever. Lean on Him when you feel exhausted, and your mind just won’t stop. He has rest for your soul. Click To Tweet
Jesus is there for you, artist, always and forever. Lean on Him when you feel exhausted, and your mind just won’t stop. He has rest for your soul.
I love how this passage says that the rest is for the soul. Artists don’t always do a lot of physical work; people may wonder why we are so tired. But our minds and hearts are always working and creating, even in our sleep. We need rest, desperately, we need rest. Christ offers us that rest.
When you are exhausted, here are a few ways to receive that rest:
Simply creating for God and yourself, without thinking about pleasing anyone else, can help fill you. Sometimes just indulging your passion without pressure is all you need.
2. Seek Encouragement
Going to another dreamer for encouragement can help not just you but them as well. It fills an artist’s soul when they can use their gifts to encourage another person, and it reminds you that you are not alone.
3. Turn to The Psalms
The poetry of the Psalms reveals David as an artist, with all the emotions, pain, and creativity of the best of them. His words are some that every dreamer can relate to and take comfort in.
4. Listen to Music
Process your weariness by listening to your favorite music, crying, or talking to God. Sometimes we are so empty that is all we can do. Getting the heavy emotions out can be such a relief, and our heavenly Father is always there to hold us and listen.
No matter how exhausted you feel, always carry on. Keep creating, keep speaking, keep dreaming.
The world needs imaginative souls. Thoughtful souls. It needs people who can spot God’s fingerprints of beauty and light in the midst of an ugly and dark world. People who can use their work, their art, to show His redeeming work in them. People who, despite the rolling tide of light versus darkness within them, strive to use that darkness, that weakness, to make God’s light shine all the brighter.
You aren’t just broken, because God makes your brokenness beautiful.
Abbi, thank you for this beautiful article! It spoke right to the very depths of my heart & soul.
My favourite part was “The heavens declare the glory of God on a whole other level for them. You may think they are lost in their own little bubble, but really, they are stilled by the undeniable beauty of the Creator. It is His creativity that inspires their creativity, His love their love, His joy their joy, and His grief their grief.”
I felt so seen reading this paragraph & thank God for how He used you & your article to speak to me. 🙂
I am so glad that my words connected with you and you were able to find encouragement in it!
I need this. Thank you
I am glad it was able to encourage you, Bowden!