Dear Kingdom Artist,
This year has stretched you in more ways than you may ever have imagined. It began with a whirlwind of bright ideas and great expectations, and cascaded into a period of great uncertainty. 2020 has brought us more ebbs and flows than any other year – what a rollercoaster it was! For some, we managed to make this a breakout year as the extra time and solitude granted by pandemic lockdowns birthed in us even deeper depths of creative inspiration and expression. Hidden gifts and long lost hobbies were unearthed, granting us a form of escape and perhaps even, a much needed source of supplementary income. For others, the year presented roadblocks and challenges we weren’t sure how to overcome. We watched as our creative plans and visions for the year were seemingly thwarted and perhaps they may still feel as though they hang questioningly in the balance. Many of us took this time to retool, reconnect and rediscover the capacity we truly have as Kingdom creatives to impact the world around us in dynamic, engaging and now virtual ways.
If you’re like me, then this year didn’t bring much of a pause at all, as the grind fortunately continued all through the year, although it looked very different. I started the year with the same joyous expectations as many of us, not simply because of the numbers 2020 and whatever spiritual significance they may carry, but because a new year always brings feelings of hope and expectancy. I was intentional about planning and vision boarding, eager to manifest all the things that were in my head and on my heart. After March, the world as we knew it was thrown into a tailspin and ironically enough so was my vision board. This board that I had so carefully crafted together at the start of the year, came crashing down literally from where I had carefully placed it above my bed. It fell and I didn’t even noticed. The devastating news of a pandemic which so deviously and rapidly spread its way across the world was enough of a distraction to pull my attention away from what I had planned and purposed in my heart. Who was checking for a vision board now anyway? The world was falling to pieces! No it wasn’t, but so it felt at the time as panic and fear set in. By the time I noticed my vision board was actually missing in action, we were all in full lockdown mode and half of those things on the vision board I could not practically achieve. So I left it alone on the floor behind my bed, out of sight and mind. By then it only became painful to think about all the hopes deferred so why bother? I was in survival mode, which felt more important than planning and dreaming and there was still so much uncertainty about how things would all turn out. Summer came and went, and still my vision board was behind my bed catching dust and its contents pushed further and further into the corners of my mind to catch cobwebs.
Yet here we are in the month of December – finally – with 2021 now knocking on our door. My vision board is no longer under my bed, thankfully, but now what? A new year beckons and though it is ripe with possibilities just like any other year, this time around somehow it feels different. Instead of the usual sense of expectancy there is now caution and hesitation. Do we plan for 2021 or do we just let it happen? Should we keep our expectations on the shelf and hold our plans or passions close to our hearts out of fear of further delay? Or, perhaps we feel more ready than ever before to seize the day and run through the open doors we expect to be greeted with as the coming months unfold? I want to challenge you in this final entry of our ‘Letters to A Kingdom Artist’ series, to choose the latter, even as terrifying as that may be.
It’s time to dust off those vision boards literally and metaphorically, and take the new year with courage. While we have no certainty about what lies ahead, we know the One who holds the future. We know His plans for us are good. Therefore, this ‘divine pause’ must work together for our good, as with all things. This year we were stretched. We learned to pivot. We built capacity. We fortified relationships. We learned new things about ourselves. We found in the arts, a source of solace and strength. We found ourselves more adaptable and agile than we may have ever known. Each of us in our own ways were pulled back like the arrows in a bow all the while held steady in the hands of The Archer. Now it is time to launch forth into the unknown, with renewed vigor and increased resilience.
The proverbial question of ‘What do you have in your hand?’ remains. Chances are, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we may find that what we now have in our hands has increased or even been refined because of what we have recently endured. We are more appreciative of the gifts we possess that brought joy to ourselves and others at a time when we all needed it most. We are more intentional now about stewarding our gifts with the utmost care because we recognize the time we have is indeed precious.
Thankfully we have had many practical pieces of advice along the way this year from the generous contributors to our ‘Letters to A Kingdom Artist’ series, which should give us the encouragement and perspective we need to run through the open doors that lie ahead.
We begun in March laying the foundation that we are all called to create because our Heavenly Father is Creator. With Him as our Source, our capacity to create is far deeper than we know and can be stretched to carry far greater than we realize. This year has shown us that. Tao Howard then reminded us in April to be gracious with ourselves and beware the pursuit of perfection that we as creatives can easily fall prey to. Lord knows, we’ve needed a lot of that grace this year when plans fell awry. In May, Shaquille Millar implored us to be good stewards of our gifts using three P’s – perspective, practice and production. One of my key takeaways from her letter was the importance of valuing rest – a gift we reluctantly and unexpectedly received this year as plans and prior commitments took a backseat. It was a hard lesson but we learnt it.
As we look toward the new year I have to make a plug here for Shaniqua Howell-Forde’s letter in August that impressed upon us the importance of collaboration rather than competition. The temptation to surpass our counterparts could weigh heavily on us in the coming months and years as we try to ‘make up for lost time’ but to quote the African Proverb – “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” There is a grace in this season for acceleration but whether we realise it or not – much of that will come through collaborating with others to leverage our strengths, resources and talents, so look around you to see who you can go far together with. It may be someone right in your circle or someone whom you have not yet met.
I encourage you to take the time to read through all the lovely letters that have been shared during our series this year, if you haven’t yet, as each letter contains valuable keys that will unlock even greater creative capacity within us all. I could go on all day about the wise words of Jacinth Howard in June to treasure our own originality and not despise that which we uniquely carry, even when surrounded by others who may have very similar gifts to us. Celebrate them, and celebrate you too. Melinda Belle’s heartfelt story about unboxing her gift of writing in July came as a timely reminder of this. What you carry may very well be the solution someone is looking for. After all, as Riana Griffith reminded us in November, you were made for this! For the leaders out there (hint: that applies to all of us) Christopher Millar’s letter in September contains pearls of wisdom about the value of leadership in a culture driven by influencers. Strong leadership is needed now more than ever.
To sum it all up I think Keisha Rock said it best back in October, “How we chose to look at things determines our success. Let us focus on how we can grow despite difficult and adverse conditions and consider what opportunities we have so that…we can finish strong.”
On behalf of all of us at Kingdom Arts and our contributing family, we look forward to seeing how you will take the new year with courage and the exciting things you can and will create as you stay Connected, Creative and Consistent. You have what it takes!
About the Writer: Danielle Thorpe is a 28 year old creative hailing from sunny Barbados. She enjoys photography, painting, podcasting, marketing and working with creative teams. Danielle has exhibited her paintings at several Kingdom Arts Visual Arts Exhibitions and now serves as Creative Content Lead on the Kingdom Arts Committee for the second year in a row.