To Create Something Meaningful:
- Take a part of your heart (usually the hardened, crusty part).
- Beat yourself up about it.
- Rip it out of your chest (some bleeding may occur).
- Massage that part of your heart into soft, supple words and poetic emotions.
- Create a piece of art directly from your raw and broken heart.
- Broadcast that broken (and sometimes mended) piece of your heart to the rest of the world.
Art in any form requires an intrusion into
your heart and soul. Your human emotions are what translate best into art, because that’s what an audience of humans can relate to. I’m not saying that the formula for a good song is to create a pit of self-pity and sing about it. Instead, find something that has meaning to you. Use an experience –
or a grief, a victory, or a journey, a lesson you’ve learned, or a lesson you’re learning –
to find out where your heart is. As in the movie Happy Feet
, a song must come from the heart. But creating something from the heart is only step one through five!
The last step of this process is the most important part, but many times its forgotten. Art can be helpful when kept to yourself. It can heal, it can point out hurts, it can encourage, and it can strengthen. But it’s even more powerful when given away. After you’ve gone to hell and back, you’ve got to share that experience with others. Most times, it will be painful, embarrassing, exposing, and uncomfortable. As Artists, we tend to hide what we feel outwardly, but it shows up everywhere in personal sketchbooks and notebooks. When you have a life-changing experience, it is powerful. When you create a piece (a song, a painting, an article, a story) from your heart, it is powerful. But both of these things would be exponentially more powerful when shared with others.
When you hear someone else’s testimony, do you become encouraged? I always think Wow! My life is so easy compared to what he’s gone through! or Maybe I can make it through this. He did! I am always so amazed at what others have accomplished through their mighty faith and wondrous heart. It helps motivate me, encourage me, and even teaches me things. There are many things I don’t have to learn through doing it myself– I have someone to give me advice, and their advice comes from personal experience. Other people’s stories almost always help me face, understand, or overcome the struggles in my life.
So why can’t we all do this for each other? I’m sure each of us has a story to tell. And sometimes the best way to voice our story is through our art. That means that our art, music, performance, etc.– when created from our heart– are portrayals of our testimony. In fact, art is testimony. My drawing or my short story may change someone else’s life! It might encourage someone, or teach something. It communicates a message – whether it’s hope, wisdom, understanding, sympathy– and I can let other people like me know that they are not alone. I have been through those same things, and I made it through to tell the tale! I can use my art to scream out “PRAISE THE LORD FOR HE HAS GIVEN THIS TO ME!” And it becomes a worshipful testimony. But we’re getting off topic.
Now here is where knowledge collides with application. I cannot emphasize this statement enough: YOUR TESTIMONY IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS ANYONE ELSE’S! Your journey, your struggles, your inner thoughts, your heart-walls, all of the things that you’ve gone through are JUST AS IMPORTANT as any other person’s experiences, because:
- You are unique. Your story is unique to you.
- You are the only one who can do exactly what you do. (If that wasn’t true, then you wouldn’t exist.)
- God loves you EXACTLY THE SAME as He loves anyone else.
- God loves you MORE than He loves anyone else.
- Someone needs your art to change another person’s life or your art could change their life.
You CANNOT ignore the call to share your testimony. It IS important. The Book of Luke (Luke 8:16-18, 8:38-39
) speaks of sharing testimony. Let your light shine, because you’re the only one who can do it like you do it!
I know what you’re thinking. My story is personal! No one else can know! It’s like reading my diary! That’s okay. That’s why God gave us imagination and metaphor! I’m talking about art, not preaching! Art makes broadcasting our feelings a little easier. Instead of taking your audience step by step through your excruciating journey, you can paint an abstract representation, or a generic portrayal. Use small lessons you’ve learned, and turn them into life-altering events in your art. You can make tiny feelings into devastating ones, or downplay a certain aspect of a situation that you want to keep to yourself.
On the flip side, you have to prepare yourself for some embarrassment. Sharing your art-from-the-heart is the emotional equivalent to standing naked in the middle of Times Square! I’ve been there– What will they think of my art? Will they judge me? Will they still like me after they get to know the really dirty side? What if they disagree with my messages? All of those thoughts cause butterflies to rally in your stomach. It’s nerve-racking and scary to put yourself out there, and expose all of your flaws and struggles. But as Artists it is one of those things we all have to do at some point.
What exactly is the point of this? Simple. “Closet artists” are essentially selfish. You have to get over your stage-fright, and get OUT there! By creating something that has meaning to you, you WILL change someone’s life. Your art is part of your testimony. Your testimony is important. And don’t forget: “So, whether you eat or drink, [or create art], or whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)