“Stop trying so hard.”
“Stop working so hard.”
“Stop trying to prove something.”
Did I Stop?
Looking back over the last five years, I think I actually DID!
Last night we went to an annual event that in years past has caused me much sadness. It was an opening reception for an exhibit of 100+ local artists; an exhibit in which each local artist had a small piece of original art for sale.
While walking to the reception, I commented to Tim that this was the 7th year since moving to Greenville, SC that I’ve been trying to sell my art in this city. Seven years trying to find my place within a local community of artists.
Seven years later, not much has changed. At least on the outside. Practically speaking, that is where I still am — on the outside.
What happened AT the party?
Nothing much. At least on the outside.
We hung around for a while. Looked at some beautiful art. Ate some snacks. (Clarification: Tim ate some snacks. I did not, as I am freakishly grossed out by food that has been spread out on a table to be touched by who-knows-what-kind-of-germy-hands.)
Then arm in arm, walked peacefully back to the car with my favorite date.
What happened AFTER the party?
1.) A huge revelation. A huge change on the inside.
Walking back to the car, while surprisingly NOT in tears, I realized that I might actually be at peace with my place in this city.
Instead of wondering why my beautiful little painting didn’t sell, or why I am not “in with the cool kids,” I simply felt satisfied by the fact that I had had two meaningful conversations with two different people. Conversations with artists that had nothing to do with me. Conversations where I was able to listen to what was on their heart, and the chance to help them feel like they had been heard.
I would never have met these two women if it weren’t for my art.
2.) I didn’t cry. A huge change on the outside.
Instead of performing my whole tear-filled “why don’t I fit into this art scene??” schtick that I like to bring out several times a year, I suggested we stop at Five Guys for french fries. So we did. We ate them. And they were delicious.
A huge question. A huge answer.
This morning, another thought occurred to me, along with an immediate and definitive answer.
Q. What if I had actually fit in, and become one of “the cool kids?”
A. I would have worked myself into the ground.
5 years later. 5 years wiser.
Five years ago I heard a life-changing sermon on the concept of REST called “Two Ditches and True Rest (#257.)” As a result, five years ago I decided to take the 4th Commandment as more than just a suggestion.
Exodus 20:8-11New International Version (NIV)
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
For five years I have been resting on the Sabbath. And it has felt pretty good. Really good. Much better than working all the time, feeling like there was nothing to show for it.
Taking a break is a way to reset my emotional (and physical) clock. When I don’t stop for a day of rest, I get more and more wound-up and the weight of the world descends upon me.
I need to rest every 7th day. Whether I want to or not.
When I walk away with 80% of my list un-done, upon returning from my Sabbath I realize that most of the unfinished goals for the previous week do not have nearly the consequences I feared they would.
Of course, there certainly will be fall-out for choosing to leave things un-done for the sake of rest and sanity. Some of which does NOT feel so good.
I spent three years running a retail store in a small town. Had I been willing to work harder and work longer, it probably could have been profitable one day. But at what cost?
Five years ago it would have seemed worth ANY cost. Today I look back and can see that my choices “to do what was reasonable” were right for me, and right for my family.
A new month.
Tomorrow begins a new month. Why not try taking a Sabbath Rest each week during November? If you choose to make Sunday your “Day of Rest,” you actually get a bonus as there are FIVE Sundays this month!
Why not give it a try?
A new calendar.
Whether or not you are a Sabbath-taker like me, here is a free computer desktop calendar for you to have for your computer these next 30 days.May this painting called “Fishing Pier” bring you Peace and REST, as you go about your days and weeks during the month of November. (And hoping you will choose not to see it at all during the 5 possible Sabbath days of rest this month!)
Happy to be 5 years wiser this month,
To see the entire collection of my colorful, peace-filled paintings of water landscapes, sunflowers, and other beautiful things, visit my online gallery at http://www.mariescottstudios.com