the eternal struggle in the artist’s mind

For the days when you want to push a button and have your kitchen self-clean, want to walk out the front door and not stop until you hit water, want to curl up in a ball on the couch with a heated blanket, a bowl of ice cream, and a ten-high stack of your favorite fiction books – know that you are not alone.

For the days when you are so inspired by your art that you see sparks, when tears come just because this life is a miracle, when  you see the beauty in the mundane and ridiculous – know that we need your perspective. And tomorrow, so will you. Write it down.

For the days when you want to throw your laptop in the trash, want to put your art in a safe place, want to hide under a cloak of invisibility and hope no one notices –  know that you have the freedom to hide if you want. But is that really what you want?

For the days when you desperately need a break, when you want silence more than chocolate or sleep, when your soul flails about inside you for a breath – take one. Breathe deep the mystery of Christ, receive his favor of you, be loved.

There is a difference between hiding and resting. When we hide, we are afraid. When we rest, we are wise. It can take time to figure out which one is at work. But once we notice the signs, we’ll know for next time.

It was a pleasure to read your comments yesterday. Out of the many who spoke up, not one person said, No, I am not an artist, I don’t want to be considered an artist, and I have no idea what you’re talking about. Pass me a calculator. Maybe it’s just because of the type of people this blog attracts, or maybe those who feel that way simply don’t speak up. Or maybe we’re on to something.

Maybe we know that when we were woven together, He wove art into our beings. He made hands that want to shape both clay and hearts, eyes that long to see beauty even in the midst of chaos, spirits that long for eternity with such desperation that we will stay up way too long and get up way too early just to try to turn a phrase or write a lyric that will capture the smallest glimpse of heaven. We are made with intention, purpose, heart. O Lord, may we receive your making of us so that we may make art with our lives in response.

If you simply haven’t heard me talk enough (and surely you are tired of my voice by now), today is the third and final interview with Bob and Audrey on My New Day in Winnipeg. Our Canadian friends can watch on their TVs later today and the rest of you can watch all three interviews online. They may only be available for a limited time. I’m just glad my high school girls helped me pick out my clothes. Hallelujah and Amen. PS. I’m sure I used that apostrophe wrong in the title. Tell me I didn’t. Amen again.


  1. says

    Love this!!! Thanks for sharing it. I have gone back to my writing and needed exactly what was written.

    And I think you’re good on that apostrophe ????

  2. says

    “When we hide, we are afraid. When we rest, we are wise.”
    Possibly one of the finest quotes ever.
    The last weekend at church, the message was about rest.
    I know Jesus wants me to have rest. But lately, I think I have been hiding, afraid.
    No wonder I am tired.

    Can’t wait to watch your interview.
    (Aren’t Bob and Audrey the best?! :)

    • Lori @ Mothering Matters says

      I agree! That’s the best quote . . And wisdom! God has been teaching me and calling me to rest this past couple years . . . But for this type A mom of 5 . . he’s had his hands full with getting me to really rest completely in his love and his big, capable arms . . . Just soaking in all He has for me so I can be who He’s created and designed me to be! I’m learning to “Be” instead of “Do” . We are, after all, human “be”ings and not human “do”ings! :)
      Thanks for the post!

  3. says

    You rocked the apostrophe. And the mere mention of what you wore has me more intrigued than ever to watch your interview. Now are you sorry you mentioned it?

    Also, you make me feel like an artist when, lately, I’m prone to feeling like that girl who auditions for American Idol and THINKS she’s an artist, but only because her Mama always told her she is. Then again, maybe that’s its own unique form of artistry?

    • says

      You put into words exactly how I feel. My husband constantly tells me that I am a talented painter. When I paint I love it, but am constantly apologetic, like if I call myself a painter, I am going to offend all of the *real* painters. Oh the mind, how it messes with us. I am an artist. I am not going to be apologetic anymore. Thanks for the wake-up. Blessings.

  4. says

    Emily, thank you for your sweet encouragement and beautiful words! I work at an art museum for half the week, doing fundraising, and struggled for the first few months because I couldn’t believe I was an artist. Words like yours remind me that yes, I am. My favorite part: “Maybe we know that when we were woven together, He wove art into our beings.” Praise God for that! (Love your blog, friend, and I’m always excited to read it.)

  5. says

    Such great encouragement. Thank you. “There is a difference between hiding and resting.” So very true. My husband and I always call each other out on this one. You have a beautiful way with words.

  6. says

    Thank you so much for this! I absolutely needed it and felt you were writing straight to my soul. Lately I have been wanting to run and hide, and no…I that is not what I want. Hiding disguised as resting…absolutely. Definitely bookmarking this one to come back to, for if I ever feel this way again.

  7. Elizabeth Nordberg says

    I have always wished I was more of an artist. Thank you for helping me realize the art God has created within me. Truly inspiring.

  8. says

    He used your words to give me a much needed nudge this morning: “There is a difference between hiding and resting. When we hide, we are afraid. When we rest, we are wise…”

    Thank you.

  9. says

    Can I just put you in my pocket and carry you around with me? Your words are wise and so needful. This is one of my favorite posts. I’ve said that before but really, this is just so perfect.

  10. says

    Lots of wisdom in your line :There is a difference between hiding and resting. I think it helps to ponder that when tempted to hide or rest to really determine which is going on. Thank you for saying this so clearly. I feel freer already!

  11. says

    Emily – I lay in bed praying this morning – about closing the lap top for good and just not trying anymore. I asked Him to show me – this daughter that is so near-sighted and dense – what is His path for me. Then I came here, as I do each day, and read your words. And the tears began to dim these weak eyes, and I felt a stirring in my spirit.
    This sounds so dramatic – but I am a bit of a drama queen. I make such mountains our of level ground. It is a wonder to me that He extends such grace.
    Thank you sweet girl for faithfully sharing your heart.

  12. says

    Thank you for this post…my 2011 year ended with me just wanting to sit in a corner. I thought I was depressed but I now know that I was just very tired and worn out. I wasn’t hiding I was just resting.

  13. says

    Thank you, Emily. Brilliant paragraph on the difference between fear and rest, and learning to recognize the difference. Exhaustion and depression are different, but when you are in the middle, buried, it is hard to recognize. I am copying those lines into my journal. A beautiful perspective. You have given me a place for my soul to breathe today.

  14. says

    Emily, thank you for writing today. You have a gift with expression. Furthermore, and I wonder if I’m not speaking for many of your readers, you have a gift with expressing the words that I WANTED to say but could have never fabricated on my own…take a test if you’d like, but I’ll tell you now, you’ve got the gift of expressing for others what they could, possibly, have never expressed for themselves…signing, too, does this. Thank you for signing for me today. Sadly, I feel sort of dead, sort of like there’s no hope. And having a place to breathe today, your blog, helps keep hope alive in my heart. thank you, Emily. much love, jasper naomi

  15. says

    I needed this today. Yesterday, I sat on my couch and hid instead of rested. I sat down at the computer today ready to scrap every project and plan. This made my eyes tear up. Thank you for saying what our hearts feel sometimes.

    • says

      isn’t it great how Emily has this uncanny sense for saying what we want to say…Tim Keller references this “existential anxst” that, I think, women, often experience and can express for each other with intuition sometimes!

  16. says

    Every word of this spoke straight to my heart today. I’m breathing deep the mystery of God’s deep, unending love and praying that prayer you offered: to make art with my very life. Thanks, Emily!

  17. says

    It’s so fun to be a writer! Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. I was having a hard time articulating why it is that I find such life in writing. I kept being afraid it was because I needed people too much or needed to verbally process everything. It’s how God made me! and if I do my writing with Him in mind, I can’t go wrong. Blessings to you!

  18. says

    *This*–you rocked it…again! Back to my email yesterday…you were made for this. You were!

    The grace talk…the art talk…it all goes together…the freedom to be an artist. You write so beautifully, so fluidly, so freely…truly, Emily, you really are on to something!

  19. says

    Emily, thank you for your words that have encouraged perspective. I am an artist but have been searching for my exact niche. I have believed it to be one thing, but find I’m not all completely satisfied with it…….like something is missing. You have broadened my outlook though that it is not just the piece my hands are holding but also all the life that is going on at the same time…….with my family, church family, my home,…me. It is all art. Yes, much is being created, and I need to rejoice in this process as the Master leads in his perfect plan.

  20. says

    The “calculator” statement really struck a chord with me. I long for beautiful words to describe my sewing projects but most of the time my sentences are choppy and stilted. However, give me a pencil, some paper and a calculator and ask me to plan a quilt and I am in my element. My son comes to me with an Algebra question and it is all I can do to not do it for him because I love the beauty and order of math. It has taken me a long time to see math as art but it has helped me to feel like I have found my “place”. Hopefully the words will follow eventually.

  21. Jenny says

    Hi Emily,
    I couldn’t help but answer your comment about the calculators. I would much rather hold a calculator than a paintbrush or be sent out with a camera to capture *something* with no other instructions. I’m a melancholic personality to the core. BUT, there is still a bit of the artist in me. It just comes out in a way that suits my personality. I cross stitch. I love to make beautiful things. I just love to have a pattern to follow. (I even use the pythagorean theorem sometimes to figure out the shortest way from point A to point B on the fabric–that’s how nerdy I am. :) I thought you might appreciate hearing from my side of artistry. I think you’re right–that we’re all created with a bit of art and beauty inside.

    p.s.-I found your site back in October through my friend Paula’s blog Grow Where You’re Planted. I enjoy your perspective and I loved your book. I found it so freeing.

  22. says

    “There is a difference between hiding and resting. When we hide, we are afraid. When we rest, we are wise. ”

    Mark me with this.

    He uses your words to write a new story in me.

    I love you, sister teaching us all to make like our Father.


  23. Rebecca says

    “Maybe we know that when we were woven together, He wove art into our beings. He made hands that want to shape both clay and hearts” Wow, that is so right on I’m sitting hear teary eyed. One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to stop referring to myself as a non-practicing artist. It’s hard in the midst of full-time work, marriage, parenting, church and so many other responsibilities to remember how important it is to nourish that part of myself. If I don’t, I feel much less alive. I don’t create as often as I would like, but when I am able it makes my soul feel like all is right.

  24. says

    I’m living in a new season and it is a welcomed one from the last few. Stepping off into new territory scared out of my mind but excited at the same time. Seeking to do it just as you said, “with eyes wide open” and to the fullest. :-)
    The beach is my favorite place. I am always reminded of Psalm 139: 17 & 18 and Jer. 29:11

  25. says

    I needed to read this post … I’ve given in a bit too much to hiding and fear in my writing lately. (And fear of resting …) I find myself, sometimes, how much easier life would be if I just give up on the whole writing thing, but in my heart I know that is only fear of the hardship of it, and of the fact I might never be “good enough” at it. Fear of imperfection, fear of the work required to overcome imperfection.

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