April 21st, 2011
By Dr. Linda Seger
Many of us feel that the art we do is important. We feel we’re doing the right thing. But the life of an artist almost always includes struggle. We seem to be ahead of our time; our creativity seems to be a mystery to others. We often live on the edge, taking three jobs to make it, or just squeaking by. Yet, we persevere. What makes it possible for us to keep going, in spite of the many resistances that tell us to stop and get a nice well-paying job? We might use a variety of words to describe this experience. We might say we’re well suited to our work and we’re doing what we love to do. Others might use more spiritual words to define this experience; they might be termed the “Spiritual Creatives.” They might say they’re led or guided or pulled or pushed into doing art. Some might say they feel “called” or led by God (or however they might define The Divine) into the arts. Whether they’re writing, dancing, painting, playing music, or doing a myriad of creative work, they feel this is exactly what they should be doing.
But how do you know if you are truly called? How do you know that you’re doing the right thing and that, in spite of all the obstacles, it’s worth carrying on? How do you test a call?
We can never know, absolutely, that we’re following our calling. But there are ways to gain some degree of certainty: First of all, the art you do as an adult is probably connected to what you loved as a child. If we truly are born “trailing clouds of glory” as William Wordsworth said, then the love of something that seemed so natural and intrinsic to us before the age of seven, was beginning to lead us to what we loved to do, and were suited for, as adults. Actors might have played “pretend,” “dress-up” and acted out stories in their living room when young. Dancers probably moved to music as very small children, with or without the dance lessons. Many painters started out smearing paint on anything they could – including the walls of their home.
A true call asks us to contribute, in some way, to make the world better. It’s not unusual to ask artists why they do what they do and hear the response: “I want to change the world as we know it.” To put this in spiritual terms, we might say, “I want to do something worthwhile that will live on, and make the world a better place.” Others might say, “I want my work to build up God’s kingdom.” Others may think of their work as “being good stewards,” or, “helping things grow and prosper.” Not all artists have such noble goals or intentions, but the Spiritual Creatives will usually think of their work as reinforcing, rather than contradicting, how we understand The Good.
A calling brings us joy. When we do our work, we often talk about “being in the zone” or “flowing” or “feeling that all sense of time is gone.” We simply love what we’re doing, and feel good while doing it. If we don’t find joy in what we’re doing, there is no point in doing it. The reward is almost always twofold – the joy we find in doing it and the joy we find in seeing the impact of our work on others.
We can further test this calling by waiting first, before plunging in to the work. Whether this means waiting before choosing to do an art form that interests us, or waiting before starting a project, a true leading won’t leave us. When we wait, take a breath, sit still for a bit, the calling will still be there. It won’t let us go. It won’t feel like a passing fancy or a whim. It will continue to hold us, and ask us to go ahead.
If it’s a true calling, we’ll be able to make it – not necessarily get rich, but we’ll be taken care so it’s possible for us to do what we’re asked to do. The Divine doesn’t ask us to starve to death while doing our work, but provides for us to reinforce the call.
A true call will usually be reinforced by others whom we trust and who know us well. Of course many will think we’re a bit nuts to do our art, but our wise friends, our closest spiritual community, will recognize a match between our gifts and what we’re asked to do, and will help give us the courage, and perhaps even needed wisdom and insight, to do our work.
A true leading will bless us, in many ways, and bless others as well.
About the Author
Dr. Linda Seger has been exploring the integration of creativity and spirituality for over 30 years. She’s an international speaker, writing consultant, and author of 12 books including Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success: gaining the goal without losing your soul and Making a Good Writer Great. She has M.A. degrees in Drama and in Religion and the Arts and a ThD in Drama and Theology. She can be contacted through her websites: www.lindaseger.com and www.spiritual-steps.com.
EmbracingMyJourney L.L.C. was created by Caryn FitzGerald in 2008.
Caryn, known as "The Manifesting Queen" is a motivational columnist, speaker and writer, she has been featured in and published several books, including "Tulips In The Sand" "Fish Sticks, Books and Blue Jeans" “Manifest Success” “Visual Arts Junction Interviews” & “Online Marketing Success Stories..."
Caryn is a domestic violence survivor who has triumphed over a 10-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. She is a wife, mother, healthy-aging-specialist, writer, speaker, blogger, coach and a health food enthusiast Click to connect with Caryn at her website
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