On January 31, Tim and I spent two hours hanging 20 of my images (18 canvas prints and 2 glass prints) at St. Mark's Coffee House here in Denver. This exhibit runs for the month of February.
As we hung the images, I kept asking myself:
What do you think you're doing? What makes you think your photos have any business hanging here? Why would anyone care about your vision, your take on the world, your "art," your "voice"?
This evening, halfway through the month, I am having an open house. For two hours, I'll greet and talk to people who might come to see my pictures.
The doubter is back:
What if no one shows up? What if no one likes them? What if no one affirms me? What if I don't sell anything? What if, what if, what if...?
Stop! Tonight is just about standing there, looking around, acknowledging:
Well done. It's you out there-- hanging on the walls-- 20 glimpses into your soul.
This is a huge accomplishment for anxious me no matter what else happens.
I started this blog in 2010 because I felt that I had no voice, and that God (yes, God) was calling me to find a way to find and express my voice. Now, 1656 posts later, I have found (at least some of) that voice and that vision. Every post has included not only text but an original photo (except once, when I posted a photo by my friend Beth that I thought was mine). I have hoped, with both text and image, to provide encouragement, insight, hope, affirmation, challenge, joy and healing.
But mostly, I wanted to find myself, to be authentic, to honor God's invitation. In the process, I've learned a ton about myself and life, about faith and friendship. Even if no one had ever read a single post or viewed a single photo, something good would still have been accomplished: I've owned myself in a deeper, more essential way, and that has brought healing.
I have spoken my truth.
Which brings me to the real point of this post:
Speak your own truth.
I've watched it happen with many of you-- you've written books, you've sculpted figurines, you've taken stunning pics with your iPhones, you've cooked, danced, sung, you've posted to Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.
But for those of you, like me, who struggled a long time-- and continue to struggle-- to find and express their voice, their vision, it's not too late.
Don't wait until you're confident you've gotten it right. Don't wait until it's complete, finished, perfect. You never get to that point. If that's what you're waiting for, you'll never do it. You learn to do it as you do it, even though anxious and afraid.
You do it because you need to do it. You need to express who you are so you learn who you are.
You won't get famous, get rich, gain popularity, but you will get real, become more authentic, find greater wholeness.
And you may, you just may, enrich the lives of others, touch them, inspire them. That's good too.
God is also with those who are inflicting pain, though everything in us would prefer to see them suffer instead.
But when we wish pain on those who inflict pain, we are the ones who inflict the pain. And yet God is still with us even when we inflict the pain.
God would prefer, of course, that we not inflict pain, which is why God remains with those of us who do, in the hopes that we will change as we become aware of God's closeness.
But make no mistake, God has a special interest in those in pain-- the exiled, the lonely, the sick, the fearful, the abused, the oppressed, the refugee, the immigrant, the marginalized, the demonized.
We ignore all of these at our own peril. Oh, not that God is going to smite us, but because the ignoring carries its own, frightening consequences: a growing numbness to matters of spirit and meaning, the slow crumbling of the soul, an increasing ugliness of the heart and visage.