Never take The Same Road Home: A Lesson on The Pain of Perseverance

One of my all time "return to" books is "Art & Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland.  If you are an artist, musician or anyone pursuing a vocation in the creative arts, I cannot more highly recommend owning a copy of this book.  It is so nourishing.

Chapter Two begins with a quote from the famous sculptor, Stephen DeStaebler.

"Artists don't gent down to work
until the pain of working is exceeded
by the pain of not working."

There comes a moment when nothing in the external world can satisfy our need for encouragement.  We have to return to the core of who we are and why we do what we do.  For the Christian artist, the only true sustaining encouragement comes from intimacy with the Lord, even if it passes through human lips before reaching our hearts and ears.  There is a healthy and holy disinterest we must have; a holy indifference to the praises or the obscurity that surrounds our work. To quote myself, (can you do that?)

Whether loved

Whether despised

Whether accepted

Whether denied

Whether praised

Whether unknown

Whether standing before kings

Or standing alone
 We are artists because we have been created to be artists, not because we were taught to be artists. We are artists because we paint with our own blood.  Cut us and we bleed poetry.  Our best and our worst moments carry the DNA of the songs we sing.  

At our core, it is not money, fame, success or large audiences that drives us to work.  It is the call and craftsmanship of the one who designed us to be creators.  

I could not stop creating anymore than I could stop breathing.  

When it gets really tough, I have to remind myself of these core reasons I do what I do.  I have to remind myself that the pain of quitting outweighs the pain of persevering.  I am committed to finish and finish well.  I have to believe the best works lie just on the other side of the greatest challenges.  

If you are in a tough spot.  Get back to the secret place.  Refresh yourself.  Remind yourself of the bigger picture.  You'll be grateful you didn't quit before your time.  To quote myself again, (I can do that right?)

Always go further than the point you want to quit
For if you turn around too soon,
Surely you would miss
What rounding the corner would have given you as gift.

Always go further than the point you want to quit
And never take the same road home.