The Beautiful Mess of Art

First off, I'm happy to announce that the beautiful Beth Vogt won my giveaway from Monday's blog! Beth, I hope you enjoy the earrings! :)

Today I want to talk about the beautiful mess of art.

Sometimes my husband leads worship at our church. This week, he had a bad cold. His sore throat got so bad after worship team practice that he nearly lost his voice, and then by Sunday afternoon, he could hardly talk. Needless to say, I ended up singing this week a little more than usual.

Every time I sing, I get nervous. I feel confident and cool as a cucumber going into it, and I really do enjoy singing, but in the actual moments of the song, I always worry in the back of my mind that I'm going to blow it--that my voice is going to crack, or I'm going to sneeze, or I'm going to sing something off key. I know it doesn't really matter. And I don't want to draw attention to myself, but to facilitate an environment where people feel free to worship God. But that doesn't change the fact that man, sometimes I just get nervous. This Sunday in particular, I was singing one song, and I felt like I was on the brink of my voice cracking. I found myself praying that my voice would stay strong and sound okay.

And that's when I realized--I do the same thing with my writing. I expect too much.

See, when I'm singing on the stage, I can't control what's going to happen. I just have to get up there and do my best. The important thing is just taking that jump and doing it. Sometimes it's a beautiful mess. And that's okay.

Have you ever found yourself brainstorming a new story--or maybe even editing an old one--and thinking, "This is not good enough. This is not perfect."? Have you ever struggled, playing the comparison game with other authors and wondering why you can't produce an equally-brilliant book draft?

For me, this feeling of insufficiency comes in the brainstorming stage. I always feel like I need to have more information about the story at the get-go than I do. I feel like all the pieces have to fit right off the bat. Have you ever felt a similar frustration? But God showed me in that moment that the truth is, art doesn't work this way. That's the beautiful thing about life as well. We rarely ever get things perfect the first go around. The important thing is that we're stepping out. Better to have an imperfect first draft than no draft at all.

Sometimes I feel like there is only one "correct" story to be told. I think that's where my sense of anxiety stems from... once I have a sense of my characters, I worry I'm not telling their story in the absolute best way. But the thing is, there is no "best" way. There's the way God calls you, the ideas you have, and the dreams you carry for your writing. Learning to relax and just be sometimes goes a long way.

Today, Schroeder noticed I was making a sandwich with his favorite bread (wheat mountain bread from Publix), and he started following me around as I carried my plate. When I sat down on the couch, he sat on the floor next to me and rested his head on the sofa. Super cute. Then he proceeded to just sit there, looking at me while I ate. Wouldn't you know I gave in? I couldn't help myself--he was being so cute and patient. Meanwhile, as I gave him a little piece of bread crust, Maddie snoozed the afternoon away on the other sofa, oblivious to what was going on. (Not to worry, I did give her a little piece later, because I'm a sucker.)

This got me thinking. I love Maddie and Schroeder equally and in different ways. I have special "things" with each of them-- Maddie gives me high five's, for instance, and Schroeder comes running any time I'm upset. Yet despite this, Schroeder is the one who racked up all the bread crumbs. Why? Because he was there. He was following me.

God does the same thing with us as we open our hearts. He loves us all, yes. But don't expect extra bread if you're spending your time snoozing on the sofa. Do you have to be perfect? No. Schroeder routinely tries to lick the dishwashing machine, and occasionally even swipes things off the kitchen counters. But still, he wins me over. If you're feeling "stuck" as you face your day, I would encourage you to stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. It can feel paralyzing. Instead, simplify your perspective-- God only expects one thing from you. That you follow His lead.


  1. I am thrilled that I won the beautiful necklace you made, Ashley! That put a smile on your face.
    And your blog post today was quite an encouragement as I fast draft through my newest work-in-progress, reminding me to let the story be ... to not force it ... to let God be in it too.

    1. Thanks, Beth! So glad you found it encouraging! :)

  2. Oh wow, Ashley, this was absolutely what I needed today. Sometimes I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect, that I forget to just relax and do what God has called me to do...enjoying the process all the while. Thank you, girl!

    1. We are SO on the same wavelength! Thanks for sharing, Sherrinda!