Be Kind

Image Source

Yesterday we looked at one word you are using that is sabotaging your living art – the word just. Leave out just, and you might begin to honor and respect the work of your ordinary days, no matter how small it may seem. It’s a way to be kind to yourself.

It’s true for the ordinary movement of keeping a home or running a business, but it’s also true for the secret dreams and timid desires we carry deep within.

The event planner who knows planning parties makes her come alive, but in her moments of discouragement she thinks, but it’s just a party. I’m not changing the world or anything.

The baker who knows making treats for people to share brings her great joy, but in her moments of discouragement she thinks, but it’s just sugar. I’m not feeding the homeless or anything.

The writer who feels compelled to write a curriculum for her small group, but in her moments of discouragement she thinks, but it’s just a pamphlet. I’m not Beth Moore or anything.

The photographer who comes alive photographing babies for her friends, but in her moments of discouragement she thinks, but it’s just a picture. I’m not a professional or anything.

These artists stand on the line of risk, willing to move one baby step at a time into what they believe might be a small expression of their truest self.

When we encounter someone moving into the mystery and taking the risk even though it might not work, please let’s choose not to ask them about their art by calling it a “thing.”

Here’s what I’m talking about:

So tell me about that party thing you do.

You’re doing some kind of thing with cakes?

I hear you’re working on a thing for your church group.

So you’re like, doing a photography thing now or something?

Thing is a word we use when we don’t know what other word to use. It subetly implies worthlessness and casually dismisses what they’ve worked hard to build.

Even though it isn’t our intention, using the word thing when we’re talking about someone’s work or art feels disrespectful to them.

I know this  might sound picky and maybe it is. But people who are trying something new already fear this attempt is risky and potentially a waste of time. They already are justing their way through.

So when they are just-ing and we start thing-ing, well.

It’s a hot mess is what it is.

I know, big girl pants.

I know, don’t assume everyone is so sensitive.

But maybe it’s better to err on the side of kindness and curiosity. Maybe it’s better to assume our fellow image-bearing friends and family members are more scared than they are letting on.

Maybe one way we can support and respect the pursuits of others is to enter into conversation with them with a spirit of curiosity rather than assumption, no matter how much we may not understand what they’re doing.

When you talk about your own work, don’t use the word just.

When you ask about the work of others, don’t use the word thing.

It’s one way to be kind to an artist. Since we’re all artists in one way or another, it’s also a way to be kind to yourself.

Today is Day 11 of 31 days of Living Art. You can see a list of all the posts in the series here.

If you would like to receive regular reminders to create space for your soul to breathe, sign up here for my monthly notes from the bench, where I’ll share books I’m reading, favorite things, and encouragement for your soul you won’t find anywhere else.