Growing up, I rarely considered myself “an artist”. I knew I was going to be a teacher early on, and volunteered in preschools or Sunday School. I always loved creative writing, visual art, even tinkering with music. During my degree in primary teaching, these talents exploded as my lecturers encouraged me to be myself. However, somewhere in between essays and job applications, I started to believe that artistic talent was an optional extra. I knew was called by God to be a teacher, and began to think that was my only path in life.
“What would you do with a million bucks?” Peter Brownhill, our DTS speaker asked our class one recent morning. I replied confidently, assuredly. I would build schools and train Christian teachers (and buy plane tickets for all my family to see each other!). Yet afterwards, I felt a dead weight– as if my dreams just were black and white.
There’s more to me than just my degree… I thought of my watercolour paintings… poetry and books… strumming ukulele on Newcastle streets– all these things that I knew God placed inside me, but still felt like optional extras.
Why do I always reply with teaching? That’s not all I want to do with my life! I exclaimed into the air, not directed to God– but in frustration at myself.
However, out of nowhere, an answer popped into my head.
“You don’t believe that art can change the world.”
Taken aback, I reevaluated my perspective. Oh, yes, I believed God would transform the nations through education. Anyone could see that. Could God change the world through the arts– what I did for fun when no one was watching, what made me feel alive? That was harder to believe.
The following week, I plonked down on the same chair, with a new topic and new speaker. Out of the blue, I realised Allana Hiha was highlighting the importance of creativity– and how it was God’s inspiration. “You just have to be yourself,” she reiterated again and again.
Be who God made me to be? I laughed in spite of myself– this was the monumental lesson I learned while training to be a teacher. Yet this time, when that principle made the trip from my brain to my heart? The arts came along for the journey, too.
Being an artist is not just an optional extra. It’s who God created me to be– and this is just the beginning.