"Jeana, you need to keep running forward —even when no one passes you the ball."
Twice a week, my rugby team plays a game of touch with the local men's team, and they were giving me pointers as I played. (And as a rookie, all advice is greatly appreciated.)
"You keep hesitating when you run up to receive a pass. But all you need to do is run forward with your hands up and ready to receive. That way, you'll either get the ball or distract the opposing team if we pass to someone else. Just commit and move forward."
Commit and move forward.
It doesn't matter if it's painting, writing, or rugby —hesitation has been one of my greatest enemies.
Instead of being decisive, I've always waited for permission to take the next step. I avoid responsibility by simply not choosing. It feels safer to just stand still.
Perfectionism and fear of failure used to make my decisions for me. But now, I'm learning this one thing that is changing the way I do everything:
As long as you're moving forward, it's okay to fail along the way.
I started an Etsy shop once.
And then I closed it down shortly after that. I couldn't sell a thing, and I was humiliated.
It was my husband's idea for me to focus on my art instead of looking for a job when we moved to a new city for him to pursue his master's degree. He saw the way my receptionist job drained me emotionally, and he saw deep worth in my art (he still does.)
And so I painted things I thought people might like. And I did all the things the books told me to do. And I told people for weeks and weeks that I was an artist.
And then I stared at a laptop screen that told me I had no sales. None.
And in my perfectionist mind, those zeros told me that I had no worth. So within a couple months, I shut it all down for good.
And so there I was, a 20-year-old girl in a new city. No community. No job. I couldn't even use the label "student" when people asked "What do you do?" because I decided not to go back that semester.
I felt so small. And, somehow, relieved when I finally gave it all up.
The very next day after closing it all down, I walked to a local coffee shop. I was fasting that day (except coffee, naturally) because I needed clarity. I needed space to talk with Jesus.
I sat in that unfamiliar cafe in that unfamiliar town feeling rather unfamiliar myself. I journaled at that coffee bar, telling Jesus that I had no idea who I was. I told Him that I had spent my life trying to be "somebody" only to realize that I am really nothing special. I told Him about how I tried to accomplish things and say, "This is all for the glory of God!" when in reality, I just wanted to sell something and call myself an artist. I wanted the glory. But I wasn't even capable of that.
So God, I journaled that day. You know me best. You must know what I am good for, because I obviously have no idea myself.
So tell me: what it is that you want from this one life I have to live?
And over the next few weeks, Jesus answered me in the form of rest.
And over the next 3 years, I learned how to let God heal and restore things through resting and waiting in Him.
(Maybe I could've come to Him a different way, laying down my identity, idolatry, and security at His feet out of obedience. Instead, I did it because I was brought to to low point of my life, and I desperately needed the love of God to direct me.
And what a wonderful thing it is that our Heavenly Father will take a "yes" and pour out His life-changing love no matter how we come to Him.)
So I'm writing all of this because the strangest thing has happened:
I'm selling my art again.
Not because I want to own my own business. Or because I need the money or the affirmation or anything.
I simply started painting things that I really love. And just to challenge myself and add some accountability, I decided to post it all on my instagram page.
And friends and strangers alike wanted to buy what I created just for fun. And one day, I realized that I should put this art online so people can easily buy the ones they want. Like an Etsy shop.
And then it hit me.
I hadn't thought about my old Etsy shop in years. Every once in while it'd come to mind and I would think, "What was even the point of that whole experience?". I'd been so ashamed that I have told almost NO ONE about it, and hoped that everyone else had just forgotten.
But here I am. A 24-year-old woman who God had to break down and grow back into a whole person before she could confidently share her art again.
These days, I've found myself in that tension of being in a position to move forward while also being terrified to make the wrong choice.
But that day playing rugby, I felt the Lord tell me this:
"Don't be afraid to move forward. In rugby, the person with the ball is not waiting for you to make the right move —they are ready to pass where ever you decide to go. In the same way, I am letting you choose. There is no right way to move forward as long as you are simply being obedient to Me instead of hesitating in fear. And life isn't about getting the ball; it's about moving the Kingdom forward for others as well as yourself. Just have your hands up and ready, and expect me to be with you along the way. "
I don't know if I could've done something differently when I first tried to sell my art. In a lot of ways, I still feel uncertain about how to put my art on display again. But no matter what happens, I am free to fail and to have fun along the way.
Because we don't need perfectionism's permission to do whatever it is our heart calls us to. All we need are hands that are up and ready for whatever God sends our way as we move forward in love.
And in case you were wondering what a flower-painting rugby player looks like, here you go.
Thank you for reading! I wrote these words for you, and I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
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