Among other things, I am an artist. As a creator, author, and basically any other title I have in this life, I am my worst critic. In my family life, I am the voice in my head that puts me down for saying the wrong thing or responding in the wrong way to my husband or children.
I am the one who hears myself say that my art looks terrible as I struggle to bring a piece of art through the “awkward phase” and into its beauty. I am the author who writes and then thinks back over my writings wondering, “Why did I even write that? What’s the point? Who’s going to listen to me? Why would anyone care what I have to say?” Oh, yes… I am my worst critic.
But you know what else? I do not submit my life or actions to the critical voice in my head (or at least I try not to). I am more that my critical thoughts. I am a mother, an artist, a wife, a Christian, a country girl living in the city limits, a pet owner, a friend, a teacher to my children, and even an author among other things. I am more than my critical thoughts, doubts, fears, insecurities, and weaknesses and so are you.
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
“We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free?’”
Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.”
(John 8:31-34, CSB)
Jesus said that in Him we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Freedom! But of course, instead of savoring this beautiful truth and opportunity to be freed, some of the Jews responded with pride. “We have never been enslaved to anyone,” they boasted. “How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Oh, how many suffer from the chains of an invisible slavery. Jesus told them, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” All believers were once slaves to sin, but once you have placed your faith in Christ, you are free! So, if you (and I) are free from the slavery of sin, why would we choose to become slaves to our own negative thoughts?
God our Father looks on us and declares us to be “…remarkably and wondrously made…” (from Ps. 139:14, CSB), “…God’s masterpiece…” (from Eph. 2:10, NLT), and “…a new creation…” (from 2 Cor. 5:17, CSB). Who are you to speak so harshly and lowly of God’s magnificent creation (even if that creation is yourself)? Whose opinion is superior?
Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true (Rom. 3:4, NLT).
Well, that settles it, doesn’t it? If your opinion of yourself and your abilities do not line up with God’s opinion of these things, then you need to change your opinion on the matter. Our thoughts are fickle and frequently changing. Our moods change quicker than the weather forecast (and often without half as much warning).
If God has called you to do something, then He will equip you for it. This is probably not going to happen in the way that you want it to. God called me to home-school my children, but He didn’t grant me sudden supernatural patience, organizational skills, or confidence.
Do you know what He did do, though? He assured me in my most difficult moments that me educating my children is about more than the education. It’s about me being a living example to my children. How I handle the hard days helps give them skills to use on their own hard days.
How I teach them to cope and overcome frustrating experiences can give them skills that they will use to overcome obstacles their entire lives long. I don’t just want them to learn the material that I’m teaching them, I want to give them a love for learning and the knowledge that, in today’s world, with the convenience of technology, you can learn almost anything!
In all of the titles I bear, I am very aware of my own personal weaknesses. I do not have it all figured out in any part of my life. But isn’t that an important part of our journey as parents, artists, spouses, friends, etc.? When we are aware of our weaknesses, we humbly seek guidance, advice, and strength from the One who is Almighty. When we pray and plead, “God, please give me supernatural ability so that I can do what you have called me to do!” does He not answer:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9, CSB)?
It’s not about us being perfect in what we do. It’s about Him and His power working in us and through us for His glory and for the good of His people. We can unashamedly say, “I have problems and weaknesses and struggles, but my God does not. If I have created anything beautiful, good, or soul-touching… all of the glory belongs to Him. Don’t look to me. Don’t praise me. Look to Him and praise Him.”
A while back, I was looking online for suggestions on how to make my art stand out. Multiple articles suggested that I become like a purple cow. “Be the purple cow,” they said, and of course, what they meant was, “Be wildly different so that you will get noticed.” I thought about it for a little while (literally, maybe a minute at most) and then decided that I disagreed very strongly with their suggestion, and here’s why.
God made each and every individual person completely unique. You are already completely unique! You are literally one of a kind! Your calling and gifts are unlike that of anyone else! The work that God is doing in you is beautifully unique. Your testimony and story are unlike any other!
You don’t need to try to “be different” because you already are. You don’t need to try to become a “purple cow” to be seen and loved. Just faithfully obey God and trust His words over your own insecurities and trust Him to make you into the best version of yourself that you could ever be. What makes you and your gift so uniquely beautiful will naturally shine through.
So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free (John 8:36, CSB)
My name is Jennifer Quinn, my friends call me Jenny, and my husband calls me Jen. I am a Christian, a wife, a mother, an artist, an author, a friend, a sister, a home-schooling Mom, and so much more. To God be the glory.
Featured Image by Cristina Gottardi
This post was written by Jennifer Quinn, author of the devotional Cultivating Spiritual Growth. Her focus is on her God and Savior, husband, children, homeschooling, and whenever she glances out the window… it’s on her backyard chickens. She makes mistakes and sometimes loses focus on her Savior in the busyness and stresses of life. Fortunately, her God is a patient and gentle teacher who can work even the stresses and messes of this life into something that points to and gives glory to Him. Her hope is that she might share a little bit of the wisdom and encouragement that God is teaching her with her sisters and brothers in Christ for their good and for His glory.
To read more of Jennifer Quinn’s work and check out her page on Kingdom Winds, visit her profile here.