"The biggest deterrent to the spirit of creativity is the voice of judgment," - Jason Upton.
I was in Kansas City in 2003 when I heard Jason say this at the One Thing Conference.
He started singing this song, "Breaking off rejection, with the spirit of adoption..." And it was stretching and it facilitated the Holy Spirit deeply whacking my heart back into rhythm (which is kind of Jason's thing). Breaking off rejection...With the spirit of Adoption... I can hear it (and you will, too, if you listen to the Youtube link of it below).
My sister shared with me after my dad died why he claimed he couldn't read anything I had written. It was because, "Well, what would I say to him if it was bad?" His not reading opened the door to me wondering what was wrong with me. Dan Mohler says "Don't hear what I'm not saying." In retrospect, his worry is kind of hilarious. How about, hey, buddy, you might want to take another run at this...
Shame says when you hear something like that: because you wrote something bad, now you're a horrible writer. The Heart of God says, "Keep writing. Perseverance is wise. This one will improve; give it another go."
I studied creative writing at USC with California's poet laureat and the first day of class she hands out this paragraph without so much as an introduction and says: make this better.
We each took a half hour re-shaping the text and some of us really took it from the runway to the sky. And then came her great reveal: it was the opening paragraph of that previous year's Pulitzer Prize winner. It inspired such confidence to swing for the fence.
Who inspires you? Why do you think? If you struggle with feeling judged, whose voice is it? Was it a glance when you really needed approval? A comment? Silence? Someone laughed at the wrong time? Forgive them and break off rejection.
We are doing our level best to help our kids become who they are called to be and to accept no paler substitutions. Isaiah 60 says Arise and shine for your light has come; deep darkness will cover the earth but kings will come to the brightness of your shining.
For three years at the bottom of my outgoing emails inspires the following, "If I could be someone else I would be me." Tess Meggison, 7 yrs old Do you feel that? I get choked up every time I really read it. That is my Shiny Tiny in all her glory.
This afternoon one of our trio was experiencing the stings of judgment from the lunch table--for being too smart to get a girlfriend (as my wife said, never allow someone who forgets to change their socks to tell you who you are.) When I was a boy we soon-learned our family inspired whispers. If we're not aware of the source of the voices coming at us, we can become the What-you-sees; instead of the Who-We're-Made-To-Be's.
One Thanksgiving a few years back as guests in a faraway place, Jacker, our youngest of maybe four or five came in to where I was sitting on a couch and said, "Daddy, am I annoying?" And I said, "No, buddy. You can sometimes do things that are a whisper annoying but you're just a little kid. You are my favorite and actually amazing. Whoever would say such a thing?" And he told me and I said, "Well how long have you known him?" And he said, "Just met him." I said, "Well I've known you your whole life and I've never met your equal for being a funny and snuggly little action hero. You're fantastic and I know what I'm talking about. Do you believe me?" And he nodded and trotted back into the fray with a surer smile.
Joseph, whose pals renamed him Barnabus, which means Son of Encouragement was the behind the scenes confidence-builder of both The Apostle Paul and Mark, who wrote the Gospel of. Let's be that kind of appraiser. To Encourage means to give courage. It is easy but the muscle requires exercise.
There was this phrase that rang around inside my heart like a trapped melody for many years, "Of course you can go do the creative thing, as soon as you can afford to."
Jon Courson once described the four Old Testament little-g gods and he said we all know the top three: Mammom is money, Ashteroth is sex, and Baal is power.
But the one nobody talks about that is really sort of celebrated and culturally prevalent is Molloch--the god of practicality. His voice can sound an awful lot like judgment. He was the one whose belly was a furnace used to sacrifice the first born child so business would go well in the future.
Who makes you say, "I'm only ok if I think that ____________ thinks that I am?"
I'm a few chapters into a book called "Writing from the Right Side of Your Brain" and the author has been teaching drawing for like forty years.
And she swears the reason most people don't think they can draw is because they no longer believe they can draw. They've made up their minds, as it were. Usually about the time kids start practicing cruelty, age ten.
Year after year, class after class, she teaches these "hip check your left-brain into the sand" tricks to help people see not only that they can draw but that they can draw remarkably well if they work a little and will trust her process. Sort of take it on her faith and do the work. And she swears it happens over and over in one, eight-hour-a-day, five-day process.
Our eldest son, York, who is reading over my shoulder right now and shocked to see his name being typed in an experiment called "stretching me" (because I didn't believe I could write while someone was looking over my shoulder and I agreed to act as though I did believe that I could to prove the point herein), has had his belief struggles in art. He is now 12.
I love this Royal painting.
York has some leanings towards perfectionism and here, I would say to him, Son, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Because it is both funny and the truth--like me quitting smoking on Ash Wednesday, 2000.
Jesus said sufficient to the day is the trouble thereof and that word trouble when you mine it out means evil habit of mind. So Jesus is saying Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness as an antidote to these evil habits of mind: worry and judgment. Resist the devil and he will flee. Molloch and company will split as we seek with primacy His kingdom--righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
So, God knows how much Jason Upton's music has meant to me since this 2003 encounter at One Thing. A few years later, Jason was sitting on an airplane directly in front of me.
I spent about half the flight crafting a prayer for him including many of the lines from his own songs as the Holy Spirit and I conspired to bless a man who really blesses me as I know he will bless you. (I discovered maybe a decade after this event that Scott Rains, our dear friend travelled with Jason and was his roommate for a season.)
The spirit of adoption wherewith we cry out Abba Father is one of the sweetest verses in Romans 8. Track it, receive it. Enjoy Jason's prayers, songs and heart. You will marvel at the change the Lord works though his music if you've ever struggled with judgment or rejection.
York was on his way up to bed and he just came in as I was doing a last polish here and he said, "I don't think parents hear this enough: 'We are so proud of you.'"
Then he turns our fist bump into a gear shift and sped up into the night.