“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath
Self-doubt can be such a roadblock to letting out the creative spirit God has placed in each of us. When we lack confidence, we put a stopper on the full potential we are meant for. I think of a rose bud ready to bloom. That bud was created in each of us, fully intended to bloom into unforeseen beauty. But we ignore that it’s even there or we cut it off because we reason it won’t amount to much anyway.
To be creative, we need to step out of the box, the traditional rules and regulations, and let our God-given imagination create new ideas and forms. But it’s so hard when we struggle with perfectionism.
Perfectionism sets high standards that can never be reached. And since we’re too afraid to fail or we’re afraid of rejection or criticism, we may easily give up or sometimes we don’t dare to even begin. We constantly self-evaluate and always come up short. Never good enough. We can try something but give up because we “can’t get it right.”
I’ll be honest. I’m struggling to be brave, to let this long-buried creativity inside of me come out. I am trying to reclaim that imagination I had as a little girl. I remember how I used to love creating things from terrariums to a frog habitat out of my mom’s old canning canister. But somewhere along life’s journey, hurts stifled this passion in me. What I loved got nipped in the bud.
A few months ago I heard about art journaling. I looked into it more, and it drew me in. But I was afraid to start. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s like something deep inside me wants to break free and be brave and create with abandon no matter how it looks, but the perfectionist part of me keeps criticizing and telling me to give it up.
Then in one of (In)Courage’s abuse support groups, one of the leaders brought up art journaling and shared one of her pages. A meaningful and healing discussion developed, and I was nudged to go forward with it. I even got brave enough to share my first page with the group. And I learned that many found healing through expressing themselves whether in art journaling or other pursuits like quilting, cross-stitching, etc.
When I shared my first page with the group, perfectionism said – Don’t do it. It’s not good enough. And voices of the past bombarded me with: That’s so vain. Pride is a sin. This is all self-serving.
It can be so wearisome to keep replacing past lies of self-debasement with Truth, but we can’t let those lies drag us down. I constantly have to remind myself to look at myself through God’s eyes – to believe that in Jesus I have priceless value. Enough for Him to even die for. The same is true for each of you.
So I experimented with some sponges and paints, photocopied and encircled my one-year-old picture, and pasted Truth clouds to remind me of who I am in Christ Jesus.
There’s something about it that feels so freeing even though I wasn’t completely satisfied with the result. I’ll admit I have already torn out a page and started over, but I’m trying to learn not to. Art journaling is supposed to be about the process, not the product. It’s about self-expression and self-discovery, about letting that hidden creativity come out. About trusting we don’t have to be perfect. God accepts us just as we are, broken and imperfect.
Some days when Satan shoots his fiery darts of self-doubt and self-debasement at us, we have to keep reminding ourselves of God’s Truth. My second page was one of those days… I used markers, colored pencils, stickers and a cut-out butterfly. And as I tried to just let myself go with God’s promises, Satan had to flee, and I felt renewed.
I know I have a long way to go in this self-expressing and self-discovering journey. In order to heal more deeply, I also need to let go of and express the deep pains inside of me. But this is a start. Eventually I hope I will loosen up in spite of insecurity, perfectionism, and fear.
Courage is taking risks even if we’re afraid of the outcome. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” It is in the saddling up anyway and allowing our hearts to take risks that we grow and learn the most about who God is and who He has created us to be.
Do you struggle with self-doubt?
Do you beat yourself up with the “not-good-enoughs?
Do you feel like the real you is trapped inside of you? Crying to get out?
Can you think of something you loved to do as a child?
How about a dream you gave up because you figured you could never be good enough?
Is there something you long to do but you’re too afraid you will fail?
Let’s saddle up anyway.
If we fall off, let’s dust ourselves off, and hop right back on.
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”
– C. S. Lewis