Have you ever browsed the Bible journaling boards on Pinterest and felt discouraged? Do you ever feel like your Bible art just doesn’t compare to all of those amazing Instagram posts you see? Do you ever look through someone else’s Journaling Bible and feel like you just shouldn’t even try?
Me. too. That’s when I discovered that I was Bible journaling the wrong way! (Don’t get mad at me yet, because this is the part where you find out the title of this post was shameless, SHAMELESS click bait.) I’d become so critical of my own art that I was sucking all of the fun out of it! The truth is that there is no “wrong” way to respond creatively to God’s Word. If you’re not allowing your creative spirit to run wild and free as you respond to God’s Word–if you’re not having FUN, you’re Bible journaling wrong. (Maybe my title wasn’t such shameless click bait after all.) Here are 3 indications that you need to cut your creative self some slack and embrace your own creativity:
1. Playing the comparison game: You get discouraged when you see all of the beautiful examples of Bible art that are shared through social media. Maybe you’re just getting started and all of that fancy stuff makes you feel overwhelmed. Take a break from the Bible Journaling Pinterest boards. I’m not knocking Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I love how the pictures and ideas inspire me to try new things. I just have to remind myself that other people’s work and my work will be different because, not only are we different in the ways we are created, but the work God is doing in our lives is so much different! That’s AMAZING! Your story is your story. My story is mine. The way we express our praise to the Almighty is different as well. This is about you, Jesus, and God’s Word! All you need is a pencil and maybe some crayons twistables…and ANY Bible, journal, sketch book, or notebook you want. 🙂 Get alone with God’s Word and start reading. When something jumps off the page at you, write it in the margin, draw a bubble or fluffy cloud around it, illustrate that verse with a symbol or a picture–whatever fits your creative personality. When you are comfortable, try new techniques and tools, or don’t. It’s up to you. The more you focus on the journey the more you will see your own, personal style develop. Amazing, wonderful you!
2. Criticizing and perfecting old work: You look back at older art journaling and you want to “fix” it. (This is so me! I’ve actually redone some of my artwork from when I first started.) While I don’t think that there is anything wrong with changing something that you don’t really care for, don’t go back and scrutinize older work. This is a journey. As you grow in knowledge and faith you will also grow in skill. You wouldn’t go back to your first grade homework and rewrite it all now that you have better penmanship. The same holds true for your art. Let it be. It is what it is.
3. Working too hard: You’re not having fun. Bible journaling / Bible art is supposed to be FUN! Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the experience of reading God’s Word and then responding in a creative way. Honestly, I find it to be an almost hedonistic pleasure to draw and color and paint and tape and stamp and write in the margins of my Bible! It has revitalized my time with God, and His Word has changed my life! That is exciting and freeing. You don’t have to be perfect. You can’t be. Neither does your art. It will develop over time, just as our faith and understanding grow and develop. Eventually you will be so surprised at how your hands have become accustomed to their new creative task, and the wobbly, timid strokes of today will remind you of when you started this journey. Until then, relax and embrace the process. Enjoy the journey.
Friend, I hope you are encouraged by this post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve actually turned away from my own Bible journaling because I was feeling discouraged. I am so competitive that the comparison game can really get to me. When I let all of that go and just focus on expressing my love for God and His Word, it is one of the greatest joys! I’ve even spelled things wrong in my journaling Bible! I mean in BIG, CURLY LETTERS. (That is so me.)
I shared it on Facebook because it was inspired by that Sunday’s sermon…then a friend commented that I had spelled one of the BIGGEST words incorrectly. (SMH) My friends and I had quite a laugh over my terrible spelling, especially because I continued to demonstrate my terrible spelling in my responding comments. I went back and fixed the art, and posted the picture again. Now that illustration makes me smile when I think of how my sweet friends encouraged me and laughed with me over it with things like, “I didn’t even notice” and “I always spell that one wrong, too.” Good friends are like that. Not only will they love you with all of your flaws, but they will be real enough to let you know they’ve got flaws, too. That’s how it is with Bible journaling. It’s just a neat community of creative, passionate people that are using that creativity to grow closer to God. They’re much more interested in encouraging one another than criticizing. So, show yourself the same kindness and allow yourself to enjoy Bible journaling. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. 😉