Updated: Aug 16, 2019
“Faith is taking a step when you don’t know there’s a staircase,” Martin Luther King said.
Faith—that sense of amazing grace that’s so sought-after for those of us who create—could not be described better than in this adage by Martin Luther King.
What does it mean to walk with faith as an artist, a creative person, and a human being?
First, we have to take our energy and attention OUT of external approval and outside benchmarks of who we think we’re supposed to be, and what we think we’re supposed to do.
We have to listen, in the very literal sense of the word, to our own insides—to our heart, our intuition, our own learning and our own callings. We have to be able to hear those callings without the back-chatter of the expectations of others, or even what we think our society expects of us.
When we separate ourselves from “shoulds,” we can give ourselves the dignity of working our art as a discovery.
If we think about inventions—which is what we’re really working on in our creative life—they are never birthed into the world fully formed. Not even close. They have to be dreamed over, sweated over, built, constructed, taken apart, and reworked numerous times before the thing that will really work appears. They need to be crafted, lit by a little light inside us, until we see the whole landscape.
And so, to work well, our faith needs to be completely entwined with our discovery process. It is a realm of inventions. All of us, artists or not, are inventing our life. But crafting art is a particular invention process, and it is based on the relationship between our faith—that is, taking a step when we don’t know there’s a staircase; or lighting a little light when we can’t see the horizon—and our willingness to just not know the outcome of a piece or a process, and then work anyway.
In other words, when we match our willingness to work—to take small steps toward the spark that has asked us to create something—with a belief that we are inventors and discoverers, we can then begin to make peace with our own creative voices. We begin, over time, to trust that our sense of composition will find us, will deliver, and will complete itself through us. And we begin to be more fearless in the face of our ideas.
Faith then, becomes an applicable practice. It is more than mystical dust: it lives in us as the bedrock upon which we will build, work and deliver our art—and then do it all again.