Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Artist's Psalm

I had an epiphany this morning as I was looking through the scriptures. The opening phrase of Nephi's psalm in 2 Nephi chapter 4 caught my attention, leading me to ponder the process of creating "the things of my soul". Because Nephi specifically addresses writing, I will focus here on that skill; however, the concepts and conclusions apply to any form of talent or skill. The scripture references are in italics.

15 And upon these I write the things of my soul...
This phrase describes what the creative process and results mean to me.

For my soul delighteth in the [creative process], and my heart pondereth [the things I am creating], and writeth [draw, paint, dance, sing...] them

for the learning and the profit of my children.
Raising a powerful, clean, and faithful next generation is what the gifts are for and what heals and uplifts the current generation.

16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
The things of the Lord are your ultimate inspiration, motivation, and benefit. When you create, you sometimes completely immerse yourself in the project and it is sometimes hard to pull yourself out of that world.

17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
Gosh, I wish I had better skills, or had more time, or fewer competing priorities.

18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
I sometimes get distracted.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
What I create often doesn't meet my standards; nonetheless, God gave me the gift for a reason and I trust that He’ll help me do better if I keep trying.

20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
He has always been there for me.

21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
Sometimes the power of the Spirit’s presence leaves me weak.

22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
Okay, so my critics sometimes don’t like my work. But that was then. You just wait!

23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
My earnest prayers are always heard. Sometimes they are answered with amazing, revelatory dreams.

24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
The inspiration those dreams provided me strengthened my hope, faith, and prayers, and I have felt His Spirit.

25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
The characters and worlds my works created were as real to me as anyone I met in the street or any place I have visited. Some were impossible to accurately depict.

26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
These visions, these inspirations were mercies to me, evidence of His trust in me. I should never doubt their value or my ability to depict them, just because of my limitations.

27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
Stop procrastinating, fearing and doubting. Don’t partake of any evil thing that will discard those mercies, and definitely don’t let the critics and the naysayers discourage me.

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
Get going! Just do it!

30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
Remember to thank God in all things.

31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
Shut my ears against the doubters and haters. Change my heart so that I longer desire to sin, which would keep the Spirit away.

32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
Discipline. Practice. Patience. Endurance. Gratitude. Falling, picking myself up, and moving forward. Help me with these, Father.

33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way-but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
Help me, Father, I pray. I know that You want to and that You can. Bless my fears to not get in the way. Bless me to not be discouraged when seeing what price others have had to pay for their successes.

34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
If I do these things for Thee and don’t get too distracted by greed or worldly honors, or even worldly success, we will succeed.

35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.
Whatever I ask for, You more than generously provide. But I have to ask for the right things, having faith and patience in Your timetable. God, I am yours. Thank  you!

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