Overcoming Fear

Overcoming fear to nurture creativity is vital for the maturity of every Christian artist. In an attempt to boost creativity, artists seek out technical instruction and education.

Portrait of Ricky
Watercolor
Sara Joseph

Portrait of Ricky, Watercolor by Sara Joseph

Becoming proficient in the use of tools and materials are a necessary part of training. Museums are a magnet for artists seeking inspiration as well as clues to techniques used by the best artists in the world. Every artist I know has a library of favorite books and magazines. Some dream about the perfect studio imagining that it will birth new creative activity. An extravagant materials shopping spree, experimenting with unfamiliar media, or even a walk outdoors can help inspire creativity. But will any of these activities consistently nurture growth? As brief as a rush of caffeine, they unfortunately only spike a temporary high.

A threshold marked by fear often brings artists to a halt. Plodding along within the self-imposed boundary, the fearful artist can sometimes spend a lifetime woodenly creating uninspiring, repetitive art. The blank canvas or the beginning of a new project, instead of being thrilling experiences, can become fraught with stress.

Overcoming fear can free you to boldly explore new, exciting territory. Overcoming fear can also help the artist persist in trying times.

Jesus said ” Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” KJV Mat 18:3

"Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." KJV Mat 19:14

Children are intuitively creative. They have no preconceived notions about how things 'ought' to be. They respond with gusto to any challenge, conjuring solutions seemingly out of thin air. Their uncluttered minds are not fettered by the opinions of others, or  memories of their own prior failures.

Watching them, we observe creativity at its best. They are little people created and creating 'in His image'! In adulthood, we somehow stifle that precious creativity. Putting away childish behavior, we take on unnamed fears, insecurities and inhibitions. Overcoming fear is unlikely without a practical understanding of the nature of fear and its corresponding response in us.

We fear because we despise loss.

Give a child blank paper and some crayons and he will promptly create vivid, bold interpretations of the world around him. Do the same with adult artists and they freeze.

An involuntary mental conversation is then engaged in, sounding a bit like this.  "What if it doesn’t turn out right? I’ve never been able to draw noses. I always use warm colors, maybe I should try cool colors... but cool colors are so dull, I hate dull art.." Underlying the miserable, mental monologue is fear and its companion - the desolation of loss. There is the fear of ruining a clean canvas, the loss of credibility in the eyes of another, the loss of a sense of self-worth in the face of work that did not measure up to our expectations…

Since the Fall of Man, humanity struggles with an overwhelming sense of loss and a persistent, gripping sorrow. We strive unconsciously to grasp and hold on to things we esteem. Life then becomes a continual struggle against losing. The mere mention of any loss is predictably accompanied with fear. The next time you feel a pang of fear, ask yourself what you are afraid of losing. Then remind yourself that Jesus has paid a great price to redeem us and free us from fear. With His help you can, and must, walk free. Learn from the innocence and trust of children.

A child concerns himself with little but living in the moment. The level of trust in his father leaves him or her, completely free of fear.

Absence of fear because of childlike trust, is the key that allows entry to a realm of vibrant experience, which Jesus calls the 'kingdom of heaven.'

That term encompasses much that mankind has only superficially understood. Living boldly and free of fear is a distinct privilege of an heir of the 'kingdom of heaven'. A little child enjoys much and attempts to explain little. He leaves life's complexities to his father. Watch him and you will catch a glimpse of this new life. His world is secure and unhampered with lofty concerns. His creations are fresh and spontaneous.

Here are some things to consider when you face your blank canvas:

• Be lighthearted as you let your art become completely engrossing, involving all your senses like a child.

• Stay unconcerned about the outcome, the joy of creating is your reward.

• Keep in mind that nothing is wasted in the kingdom of God; He uses all experiences to grow, prune and develop us.

• Whether we perceive it or not, we ARE growing into adulthood and maturity. Have you ever seen a child stay unchanged day after day? Of course not! Growth is inevitable.

• Avoid assigning negative labels to your art - there are no 'mistakes', 'bad work' or 'failures' in your artistic development – perceive all art explorations as powerfully moving you closer to your eventual fruitfulness in His kingdom.

• Finally remember that His "perfect love casts out fear". There is liberty in knowing that we are loved unconditionally. The making of art is ultimately an act of faith.

God has lovingly filtered everything that touches our lives. If circumstances are unpleasant or painful, they wont stay that way forever because He knows about it. He has a way through it that does not include loss, but rather gain. Stay with Him, walk in His ways and you will taste the joys of His 'kingdom' - a piece of heaven upon this earth! I am living proof of it. I can testify that through good times and struggle, His faithful presence is what makes life a virtual heaven upon this messy earth!

Jesus is our redeemer. Overcoming fear is possible only when we trust in His power to redeem all perceived, and real, losses in life. His redemptive power will assist us in overcoming fear to live abundant, fruitful lives as artists.

The world waits for art created by fearless adults who paradoxically dwell in the 'kingdom of heaven' like little children!

Are you up for the challenge?


Overcoming Low Self Esteem
Overcoming Procrastination
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