The Art of Soul Care: Uncovering Your Hidden Artistic Passions
by Mark Jones
Have you joined the rest of the world and read the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling? If you have, then you know how Harry encounters a mysterious and magical mirror called the “Mirror of Erised.” (1) Harry discovers with deep fascination that the mirror allows one to see images of your most secret longings and desires. In the mirror Harry sees images of his dead parents who he desperately longs for and he suddenly becomes entranced by the mirror. Harry is warned by one of his professors not to be consumed with the images he sees because men and women have been driven mad and wasted away before the mirror, never having the chance to fulfill their destinies. The lesson learned: something in us will waste away when we dream our dreams instead of living them out.
Consider this, if you were standing before the Mirror of Erised what images would you see? Would you be singing before hundreds of people? Would you be writing lyrics that helped others nurture hope? Would you be creating beautiful and glorious works of art? How about acting in film or television or writing great novels? Be honest with yourself; what would the mirror reveal?
Move away from the mystical mirror for a moment and take a dive into your inner core where the loving presence of God resides. Do you hear anything? What is the gentle but persistent voice of His Spirit guiding you to do with this, your one chance to make an impact here on earth? Is there a certain burning passion that you have tried to ignore, only to find it resurfacing over and over again?
Real life doesn’t begin until you decide to live your dreams; whatever brings you to this point of decision, bless it. This journey toward your destiny is the imperative of the soul – you will never be at peace if you ignore it. Don’t let the journey intimidate you. Embark on it with all the strength in your soul.
Coming to terms with your hidden passions is a necessary first step to living the artful and soul-filled life. There is a divine blueprint encoded in the soul of every person. The Holy Spirit weaves our spiritual genetics into unique longings, inspirations, and holy desires. Have faith to pursue what you discover and God will conspire with you in its ultimate fulfillment.
If you have dreamed of becoming an artist, may I welcome you to one of the most challenging dreams to live out. For those artists who have a deep faith in Christ, watch out. The journey may be double trouble. The world does not eagerly accept artists with something true to say and the Christian community will tolerate you at best. But be encouraged: God is always with you, and your calling is an incredibly powerful one that could be both prophetic and transformative for all those who come in contact with you or your work.
Living your dreams requires a serious commitment of body and spirit. No one else can make this happen for you. You must wrestle with that tenacious inner necessity and pin it down and live it out. Consider this process a purification of purpose in which you put all other competing voices aside for that deeper calling you have been neglecting for so long.
Once you begin this purification process you will undoubtedly encounter one major roadblock: the internal critic. The internal critic is a part of the psyche that reveals itself sometime during the creative process as a negative or criticizing voice. It attacks the “new” idea as unpractical, silly, or selfish. It scolds you for wasting your time dreaming. It tells you that your artwork or your writing is poor and it will never really amount to anything. Your music is bad; your lyrics are amateurish. Facing the inner critic is in many ways similar to the battle Joseph faced with his brothers when he revealed his glorious dreams to them.
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. And his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms. Then Joseph had a dream and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.”(2)
“Later, when they saw Joseph from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. And they said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer!” “Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!”(3)
The internal critic can be that “devouring wild beast” that would rather kill your dreams or have you throw them into the pit of your unconscious where they won’t bother anyone ever again. This beast hates the pure power of courageous vision.
Most buried dreams have been banished for a reason. At some point you felt they would never be accomplished or you judged them too harshly. Perhaps other influential voices possessed by the critic helped confirm these negative evaluations. Parents may have tried to convince you to “be sensible”, friends may have made cutting remarks, or perhaps you had some traumatic experience that empowered your commitment never to dream again.
Whatever your negative experiences might have been, it’s time to move beyond them into a new life. A new life with God is the inevitable reward of exercising your faith in this way. Once you set out on the road of your vision you will find Him ready to journey with you. The poet Rumi tells a story about his truth:
“Ibrahim (a long-dead Sufi King), when he was still king, went out hunting. As he galloped after a deer, he became separated from his entourage. His horse was tired and lathered, but still Ibrahim rode. Deep in the wilderness, the fleeing deer turned its head and spoke, “You were not created for this chase. This deer body did not take shape out of nothingness, so that you might hunt. Supposing you catch me, will that be enough?” Ibrahim heard these words deeply and cried out. He reined in his horse and dismounted. There was a shepherd nearby. “Take this royal jacket sewn with jewels. Take my horse and my bow. Give me your shepherd’s robe of coarse cloth, and tell no one what has happened!” The exchange was made, and Ibrahim set out on his new life. He made such an extraordinary effort to catch the deer and ended up being caught by God! All plans are subject to revision. God lives between a human being and the object of his or her desire. It’s all a mystical journey to the Friend (God).”(4)
Rumi says if you truly long to be caught by God pursue your dreams first and you will meet God along the way. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.(5)
1. J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (New York: Scholastic, 1997).
2. Genesis 37:3-5, The Ryrie Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (Chicago: Moody Press), 67.
3. Genesis 37:18-20, The Ryrie Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (Chicago: Moody Press), 67-68.
4. Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi, 286.
5. Psalms 37:4, The Ryrie Study Bible, New American Standard (Chicago, Moody Press).
Copyright 2000 Mark Jones.
Mark Jones, MA, LPC is founder of Art of the Soul Care and Counseling Center, and he has recently written “Spiritual Imperatives For The Christian Artist.”
Art Of The Soul Care and Counseling was established to help unleash the creative spirit in the body of Christ. If you need support on this new road to your dreams, contact Mark at 877-948-8102, email him, or visit www.artofthesoul.com.