Posts tagged ‘Depression’

July 11, 2012

Enjoying God

How does it all get this way?

I’m tired.  I have zero energy to deal with anything beyond getting up and going to work, and many days, I don’t even feel like doing that.  I feel like a failure because I graduated almost eleven months ago and I still don’t have a job that pays my bills, even though I apply like crazy.  I was a part of an incredible community in college, and let me just tell you dear friends who are still in college, the post-grad road is pretty lonely.  And honestly, I’m slightly angry, because my life is so not going the way I planned. 

I know what you’re going to say (trust me, I’ve heard it before … a bajillion times). I shouldn’t be tired (Gal. 6:9). The joy of the Lord should be my strength (Neh. 8:10). I’m never really alone (Heb. 13:5). And God doesn’t promise me that life is going to go according to my plan (Is. 55:8). Yep, I know.

I think somewhere in the midst of the hustle and bustle of post-grad life, I’ve stopped enjoying.  I’ve stopped enjoying art – if I’m going to see or hear a piece of art, I’m always thinking in terms of FortyOne20 Ministries. I’ve stopped enjoying relationships – it’s hard for me to make time in my schedule for people, and then I feel guilty (and I think reasonably so) because it’s all about the people.  And, *collective gasp* I’ve really stopped enjoying my time with God. (I imagine you’re thinking that’s exactly where I went wrong. I’m not disagreeing).

It’s not just the whole thing where life isn’t going according to my plan, it’s that being obedient to God is (at least in my experience) hard and costly.  There is a song on the radio and part of it goes, “You and I embrace surrender,” and I seriously switch stations every time that comes up because who in the world embraces surrender? (Maybe you do. Good for you).

It happens this way because somewhere along the way I shifted my focus off of Jesus and onto what I want (but don’t have) or don’t want (but do have). The last time this happened to me, I was trying to hold on to what I was afraid to lose, and ended up losing it anyway. For me, the root of depression is either connected to covetousness (that focus on what I don’t have) or fear (a fixation on what I don’t want to lose).

I’ve heard a lot of “spiritual solutions” for depression. I’ve been told my whole life to just get over it, or to just be joyful, or to have a blessings journal (which is great to have regardless, but in this case, it has never really worked for me). BUT the only thing that has ever worked for me is enjoying God. Seriously.

Getting to that point where it’s just me and Him. Where I am dwelling on Him. And that’s the point of the FortyOne20 Ministries Devotions. Once a week I want to take from the overflow of what I’m learning about God and share it with you. It doesn’t specifically pertain to art necessarily, but I just want to be dwelling on God in the midst of article-writing or art-reviewing.

For this week I want to dwell on Jehovah Rapha – which means the Lord who heals, restores, and makes healthful.

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”  Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threwit into the water, and the water became fit to drink. There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test.  He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keepall his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseasesI brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who healsyou.” Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.

~Exodus 15:22-27

Our God is the One who turns bitter waters sweet, and brings us from desert to oasis.

A prayer for this week: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:12).

May 31, 2012

Muse: Drawing Inspiration

It’s a vocab lesson this week, folks. 😉

Muse v. to think about something in a deep and serious or dreamy and abstracted way; to say something in a thoughtful or questioning way; to gaze at somebody or something thoughtfully or abstractedly.

Muse n. someone who is a source of inspiration for an artist, especially a poet; the inspiration that supposedly visits, leaves, and suggests things to an artist, especially a poet; the particular gift or talent of an artist.

The concept of muse originates in Greek mythology.  The muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and the goddess of memory, Mnemosyne: Calliope, muse of epic poetry; Clio, muse of history; Erato, muse of tragedy; Polyhymnia, muse of sacred poetry (yes, that’s where we get our word “hymn”); Terpsichore, muse of dance; Thalia, muse of comedy; and Urania, muse of astronomy. Clearly, muse has been associated with art from the beginning (or very close to the beginning). Through the ages, it has come to be known as an artist’s inspiration, and now holds connotations of deep thought, meditation, and reflection.

Muse is what we as artists are dwelling on as we create.  Muse can take the form of another artist, a piece of art, a lover or love affair, a life circumstance, or any combination of these.  Muse can be ever-changing or perpetually-constant.  Regardless of the form it takes, muse represents the deep connection on the part of the artist to who or what is being thought about.

Muse is personal, perhaps even private to some.  You can see the product of muse and the artist in the art, but you may never know what is behind the art.

Many times the muse relationship fluctuates through auras of painful and joyful. I can think of about twenty break-up songs that illustrate the painful side of muse: a relationship that once caused happiness has been shattered, and the artist draws from that experience. Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know is in between on the muse front: it’s good that the romantic relationship is over, but when the friendship and civility disappear, it’s painful. In sheer joy, a poet can exclaim, “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45). In Psalm 45, dwelling on God inspires art of praise. Muse can dictate the outcome of art.

Artists should be inspired by the pain and joy in their relationships and circumstances. The art this produces resonates with art-observers. But if the fluctuations of life are all there is to our art, I am afraid it will be detrimental to us as artists. Think about it: if I look only to myself and my experiences, what happens when there is nothing left to draw from? What if my art only ever reflects my feelings and my circumstances? Emptiness is the product of self-centered and victimized (others-centered, circumstance-centered) muse. (Trust me).

I write poetry (although I would not call myself a poet). When I was around fifteen or sixteen, I wrote a poem called Journey to Nowhere.  It reflects much of the emptiness and nothingness I felt at the time. I was pretty much numb to life. My muse was nothing tangible, just an enemy I’d wrestled with (and still wrestle with sometimes) – but an enemy I’d kept close. That was undoubtedly one of the darkest periods of my life.  I’ve never shared the poem with anyone, and I’m not planning on sharing it now, but I do keep it around.

I was lacking something when my art was dictated only by feelings, circumstances, relationships. I had no personal relationship with God or His Son Jesus, and had wrong conceptions of Him. My God-view affects my world-view and art-view, and believe me, how you view God also affects you and your art. 

I recently wrote another poem. (I should qualify that I have written many poems during the interim). It’s about how I view myself, and God’s answers to my views – how He views me. It stems from things God has been growing me in since the beginning of my senior year in college. It deals with painful things, it asks hard questions. While I still have an imperfect view of God, dwelling on Him and how He sees me based on His Word, sets this poem volumes apart from Journey to Nowhere.

When writing it, I was not necessarily dwelling on my feelings, circumstances, and relationships, but I acknowledged them. They’re important. More important, however, is what God has done and is doing through these feelings, circumstances, and relationships. In order for my art to have right perspective, He has to come first in the muse process.

So my challenge is to artists. Will you think about what you’re thinking about when creating art this week? I mean, seriously engage. What is it that’s fueling your creativity?

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Lydia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Film. She is also a prolific writer and the facilitator of FortyOne20 Ministries. She desires to see artists come to know Jesus and be as artists committed to knowing Jesus and making Him known through art.