“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
10 thoughts on “Creativity: Courage to Saddle Up In Spite of Self-Doubt and Fear”
These pages are beautiful. Not because they do or do not submit to any particular cultural standard of “good enough” but simply because they have been created as an offering. A sacrifice of yourself, your pride, your concern about the outcome. God has been teaching me so much about this kind of giving of yourself. How it’s the act of DOING it that honors Him most. The outcome is gravy. So grateful you have found brave footing and a safe place to share. I have no doubt it will be blessed many times over. (Your neighbor at #TellHisStory)
Thank you for your kind, encouraging words, Beth. You have given me something to reflect on – that this is a giving of ourselves, a doing that honors Him. Thanks for stopping and may God teach all of us more and more how to honor Him above all. 💗
Trudy, this is so beautiful, encouraging and inspiring! Thank you for sharing. I love your pages!
Thank you, Michelle. I’m so glad you are encouraged. Your kind words encourage me as well. Hugs! ❤️
I love this! And I love your pages 🙂 I recently have unearthed a long buried love for painting and drawing and art. God has used it in big ways as a part of healing for me too! Keep creating! It’s beautiful!
Thank you, His Girl. 🙂 I love that thought – HIS Girl. Bravo for you to have unearthed this love. I’m so happy God has used it to heal. Thanks for encouraging me to keep creating. You, too! ❤️
This is awesome, Trudy! Both your willingness to press outside of perfectionism and the art that you produced. I struggle with courage too. I have to do so many things afraid. 😦 But after awhile, the fear usually does subside–until something new comes up. ha. Keep creating!
Thank you, Lisa. I’m with you on the doing so many things afraid. 😦 I sure have to give myself a pep talk a lot… Praying for daily courage for each of us! 💗
Your pages are beautiful, and even more so because of the truth behind them. I appreciate your honesty. Like you, I struggle with self-doubt and perfectionism. When I looked up art journals, my first thought was, “I could never do that!” (I still thinking writing is a better creative outlet for me, but I like being creative in my new Smash Book.) You’re not alone in this. And I’m praying for you!
Thank you, Melissa. You do a wonderful job in writing. I had to look up what a Smash Book is. 🙂 Very interesting. So you are art journaling! See, you can do it. 🙂 Have fun with it. And thanks so much for your prayers. Praying for you as well! ❤️