Disheartening statements came at me like bullets. The words were not aimed directly at me. The dark reports came from people I love and admire. "I am constantly filled with self-doubt," he said. "The workplace has become a jungle. I feel left behind inside the competition. Some of my colleagues take Adderall to stay energetic enough to keep up. I've seriously thought about trying to get a prescription from my doctor." Another person told me that she had made the brave decision to pursue a graduate degree. In the process she said that a professor from the esteemed university advised her to abandon her entire portfolio and begin again. The collection of her writing contained years of artistic efforts. I became filled with anger at the censors that appear in peoples' lives--the criticism and expectation of perfectionism searing, burning. How do we cope? What brings relief?
On a walk I listened to an artist performing a piano improvisation. I felt captivated by his abiity to create a piece wholly beautiful with no sheet music. The notes flew from his fingers. I stopped to look at the video of him playing and noticed that he had a look of joy on his face, his strong hands agile, his body at times leaning into the rhythms and flowing chords he produced. As I continued to listen, I thought how God is like the master improvisationalist on the keyboard of our lives. He understands that we get hurt by the censors in our lives. He knows the pain the caustic remarks can bring. He knows that we can get stuck when the voices of darkness become too loud. I believe He might say something like, "No striving necessary. Let me sit down at the keyboard and improvise. I know you by name. I'm aware of the stressors you face. I hate the toxicity too. Be encouraged. I have the ability to bring all of the musicality of your life to the surface. Trust me. Your song is not determined by the censors. Your theme music is determined by my goodness, my wisdom, my favor and my grace toward you. Let me make you joyful. Receive my creativity for your life. The awareness of your brilliant song will make you dance again."