There have been some phenomenal breakthroughs from studying Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” with several other people the past few weeks. The odd, incredible navigation of life that comes from what’s in this book has transferred into my newish marriage. I’m learning to release the immense guilt I carry over lots of things, to nourish my inner artist and the worthwhile creativity she holds, to push myself to drain emotional garbage to make room for writing and whatever else, and to open myself up to the care and help from other artists. All of this teaches me ways to be more deeply connected with my husband.
Like tugging off rose petals, we delve into ever-expanding layers of each other. For example, who knew that he was a whiz at making homemade iced coffee or dreamed of opening a bistro with hand-crafted beer? Or that he enjoys serving homeless or down-and-out folks through our church? I’m honored to know that now. He is becoming more privy to my discontentment with jobs and the way my mind spins, but also to my protective heart for children and desire to keep being self-reflective. When I read in 1. Corinthians that love between a husband and wife meant respect and love, I wasn’t necessarily thinking of becoming so emotionally and spiritually intimate with another person. I’ve never done that before. It makes sense on paper, but really sets in with the flesh-and-blood hours at home.
Some days it’s hard to see this as good. I remember chatting with Mom one day, and her reminder that everything awful and wonderful you do and think is before this one person. It can be amazing, but also very frightening. Keep working at it, though. Great advice, I think. My brain and heart try to settle on what Travis is thinking about what I did, and it usually gravitates towards the negative.
Guilt is quite evasive, and damaging. It also tends to poison the church, and the fact that our culture is addicted to self-improvement makes things worse. As men and women that have been redeemed by Christ and are told that repeatedly, why do we hold on to this? If I had a penny for each time I called myself a moron or chastised what action was taken, I could have retired at the age of twenty-one. Not that Julia Cameron has all the answers, but her encouragement to not beat ourselves up needlessly is admirable. It comes through the slow, careful suture of false beliefs about ourselves and others. I’ll always be this selfish. She never thinks about my feelings. I will never leave this career, because I’m not good at anything else. Laugh at the way it sounds like pop psychology, but these haunting voices build into a disjointed, hideous pile of noise. And that noise keeps your heart at bay.
What happens when the voices start to disappear? What’s the next step when you look at the wonderful, positive attributes of your spouse and what you also bring to the table? Your spirit is free to be itself and move into those dreams and goals, encouraged and singing the unique song of peace. And some people won’t be able to stop listening.