Art, Relationships, & The Lie That Keeps You From Having Both

I do a lot of things. I say that I do a lot of things. Photography, blog design, graphic design, writing, making jewelry, painting – I have a really bad case of, “oh that’s amazing – I want to be able to do that!”

So I try. Really hard. Because I want it. Really bad.

I experiment, I Google things, I research it. I spend an ungodly number of hours reading, observing, and trying over and over and over.

I used to hate that I never had anyone to teach me what I wanted to be able to do. It’s frustrating. Discouraging. Sometimes I feel like it’s not worth it. Too much to tackle. Like I’m on my own. I’ve never had close friends or teachers that help me, guide me, & enable me to get better at whatever artistic endeavor I’ve got my hands in.

But over the years, I have started to see it as a gift. I am slowly perfecting the art of teaching myself.

We live in a world that admires “the self-taught” above everything else. “You TAUGHT yourself?” It’s the ultimate compliment.

People look at someone who learned something on their own and ask, “HOW did you teach yourself that?”

How? Because they fully believed they could throw themselves into it and eventually figure it out.

Anyone who has learned anything on their own knows how frustrating it can be to be “self-taught.” To spend 10 solid hours on something little and stupid, because you can’t get to the next part until you figure it out. “If only I could just take a class on this.” “If only I could just ask someone and get the answer.”

But everyone who has spent 10 hours on something little and stupid also knows that they will never forget what they learned.

Everyone who has sought something with their entire heart has discovered that the greatest lie they can believe is that they “can’t” unless someone else teaches them how. They learn that belief is everything they need to propel them forward.
And it becomes permanent to them. It becomes what they understand, not just know.

What they are capable of, not just what they replicated.

In a way, it becomes part of their identity.

It becomes worth it.

I like to think that God’s primary characteristic is an artist. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created.”

When we were created in his image, we were created with the innate ability to create and initiate on our own. More than that – the desire was embedded into our heart. We can initiate change; we are active, not passive creatures.

Last week I was asked, “how do I get a relationship with God like yours?” A few days ago, “how did you get past everything that happened to you?” And in the last 24 hours, several people who don’t know how to pray or hear from God have crossed paths with me.

And everyone wants to be taught. Because in the moment, that seems impossible.

We all want to be “able,” immediately.

We feel utterly directionless before we take the first step. We think we don’t even know where to begin. We base our potential options off of failed actions in the past. “I tried that for like three years, it never worked.” “I can’t just….do that.”

And so we decide, “I can’t.” Until someone comes along to teach us.

But what we’re always forgetting is that God created us with the ability. God designed you with the ability to create. God MADE to have a relationship with him. The relationship you see other people having with him. God created you with everything you need to get past what happened to you. He designed your heart and soul explicitly for the purpose of communicating with God – sharing yourself with Him, and He sharing himself with you.

What we are forgetting is that God created us.

And just like everything else, a relationship with God is simple, but not easy.

You were born with the ability to have the relationship with Him that you want but don’t know how to get. Believe it.

You were born with the ability to speak to a God you cannot see. Believe it.

You were born with the ability to overcome everything that has happened to you. Believe it.

You are able to chase God with everything you have, no matter what. Believe that in the end, it will be worth it.

Because it is when you doubt the possibility that you lose the ability.

If I didn’t believe I could figure out how to use a camera, I never would have become a photographer.

If I didn’t believe I could find the answer to my stupid broken code problem somewhere on Google, I would have stopped looking & never designed anything.

If I didn’t believe that I could mess with paints enough to finally get it to do what I wanted, I would never create anything.

You must believe before you try.

If I didn’t believe God would answer me, I would stop talking to him.

If I didn’t believe God would love me the way I needed to feel love, I would have never asked him for it.

So, this is my encouragement to believe. And to try. To try hard.

Choose to believe. To experiment. To run, and fall. Climb, and slip. Mix things together, and find that they don’t work. But slowly we get the answers, piece by piece. We master the next step, eventually.

And before you know it, you will have created. You will understand, not just know. You will have the relationship with God that you didn’t have last month, last year, ten years ago.

Because you will have tried all the wrong ways – and it was hard – until you found that you could obtain what looked out of reach.

Because you were created by God. In His image.

– – –
“You will seek me & find me when you seek me with ALL your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

It is written: β€˜They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father & learns from him comes to me. John 6:45

No longer will a man teach his neighbor saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 31:34

“I will put my law in their minds & write it on their hearts. I will be their God, & they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33

– – –

PS: I am raising money to get back home by selling photography from the first half of the trip! Please consider helping us out! <3

Come join me on Facebook! > >


/ / / / leave love

  1. Katie says:

    Thank you for this. You are absolutely right. I assume that I can't find God on my own without someone to tell me exactly what to do and how to do it. But you are so right when you say that He created us to be able to find Him. I've needed to read this for years. You are amazing!

  2. Preston says:

    "I like to think that God's primary characteristic is an artist."

    Yes, yes, yes.

    I wrote about a month ago about entering into a time where all I could really manage to do as far as my relationship with God was concerned was to go through the motions, because going through them reminded me of what it meant to truly mean them and, slowly but surely, I felt my way back to Center. Somedays the art feels like that too, the words aren't right, they're threads that don't want to be woven. But I weave, as faithfully as I can, because I think of what a terrible gift faithfulness is and what it can mean someday, somehow, that we were. Thank you for the reminder and, too, for daring to ask people to simply believe. I'm not sure I've yet found the guts to take the kick-back I get from saying that from time to time.

  3. Stephanie S. Smith says:

    An encouraging read tonight πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    It's intimidating to look at other people's story, ministry, professional achievements, influence, etc. It's difficult to learn to invest time in building your own story rather than comparing yours to everyone else's. You said it: God has created us with the ability to create, to bring good and beautiful things to life! And the only template we need care about is His: "Be Holy as I am holy." Be as I AM. Become more and more like our Christ-Creator. That is what we can all aspire to, and our creations and art and stories which come out of it will be as unique as He has made us.

  4. kelly summers says:

    I love this. I have so many thoughts and can't sort them out now.

    I love that "a relationship with God is simple but not easy." So true.

    I love that I can see where you've tried and maybe failed and tried again and persevered. My biggest road block in the past couple years is fear. I don't play guitar more because I'm afraid I'll never get used to it. I don't try new things because I'm afraid I'll fail. I don't pursue certain goals at work because I'm afraid I'll look stupid.
    But I do know that in the end, when I know I've done all I can to try and try and try, that I'll really learn about myself and God in the end.

  5. CV says:

    Lauren, you are an inspiration! πŸ™‚ I needed this post! I've been trying to connect with God for a year or so now. But about a month ago I realized that it was more of a "I say that I'm trying". So, I changed what I was doing and decided that I could talk to Him and maybe He'd hear me. About two weeks ago, my mom said she was tired of her marriage, and that my dad wasn't treating her fairly (emotionally and wasn't always present). I'm 20 and I cried like a baby (once I was alone) and talked to God, and He answered. It made me stronger and it made me believe even more. My parents are now working it out and things are much better between them.
    I just wanted to say thank you for all the contributions you've made to my life, even if you weren't aware of them. (I am a member of the Love Bomb team.) Thank you for making the world a better place! πŸ™‚ And good luck to you and Max on your journey back home.


    (Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @Carolmsv )

  6. acp1004 says:

    Lauren! I love this post, but I really wanted to say that your tweet earlier tonight that said- "Stop putting it off. You don't have enough time to keep waiting." was what made my night. It slapped me in the face because that's exactly what I needed to hear and would have said to myself if I was able to step back.
    I've been procrastinating and chickening out of getting a "community" that also follows God. I was literally just too scared to do it alone and scared to take the first step. Excuses were flying everywhere. One of my friends called me and told me about this Bible study that she knew someone was going to. I immediately thought of all the reasons why I would wait till next week to start. So naturally, I got on twitter to waste time and think about why I couldn't go until I saw your tweet. It really spoke truth to my situation. Thank you so much for encouraging and helping me when you don't even know it. I took that first step tonight, and will definitely be going back next week. πŸ™‚

  7. generousthoughts says:

    I've been thinking about all sorts of relationships in my life lately – with my friends, family, boy, co-workers, and God too … none of them are where I want them to be. I'm not putting in the effort. I'm trying to spend time to make me who I want to be, but forget that I am a sum of all those relationships too. And that those relationships play an important role in my self-image and self-confidence. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. paperpocket says:

    You know, this is the most life-changing blog post I have ever read! Thank you.

  9. sheilainafrica says:

    thank you for those encouraging words. I'll be mulling them through my day today.

  10. Just me says:

    Smiling so much reading this post – LOVE it!!

  11. Maddi says:

    This was something that was on my heart today. It really spoke to me, thank you

  12. Heather says:

    What's your story, Lauren?
    I love what you write and can't help but wonder what in life brought you such amazing insight.

  13. jenn says:

    "You must believe before you try."

    Simple words, but so very true. Wonderful post.

  14. rach. says:

    what a great blog! you are so interesting and inspirational! if you get the chance to check out mine i would LOVE to see what your opinions are on it. πŸ™‚

    follow me?–

  15. ashesforbeauty says:

    I kind of stumbled across your blog from reading another blog a friend had posted on…and it never ceases to amaze me that even in the unintentional things, God is always so completely intentional.

    This was exactly the reminder I needed…and a bit of a shifter perspective. Thank you.

  16. meganleiann says:

    It's like you're in my head! I've had to teach myself how to cook, clean, manage a home. I've lived in a foreign country and learned a foreign language. I'm self-educated in so many ways. I've had to rely on God for all of that and I've had Him get me through it all. However, I'm STILL fearful every time I try something new. I'm still fearful when I approach God on things dear to me. It's a little less every time, though.

  17. Chantelle says:

    Lauren, I love your posts.
    Look into motivational speaking to raise money for your trip, too. Honestly, I can totally see you doing self-love workshops like Gala Darling. You two are brilliant, and inspiring.

  18. Lauren M. says:

    Wow, I never thought about that:

    "I like to think that God's primary characteristic is an artist. Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning, God created."

    This really struck a cord in me. I am a graphic designer as well, and this actually makes me feel even closer to God because he made us in his image, so we are little creative people doing what was given to us from Him πŸ™‚

    Great post, and I love your blog!

  19. Emily O. says:

    Thank you for this- I've often struggled with the frustration of being a self-taught person… as an older sibling, a protective friend, it seems I'm always the one who people come to, I never have anyone to go to… But thank you for putting it in a Godly perspective. I am proud of the way God has taught me through all of my struggles… I wouldn't be who I am today otherwise.

  20. Mallory! says:

    Beautiful words.

/ / / / / leave love . . .