In 2010, when my husband and I were still dating, he developed an interest in photography. It was a huge leap of faith when he left his comfortable career in accounting to pursue it full time in the fall of 2012. At the time, we had only been married for six months so we expected there to be additional stress on top of being newlyweds.
We expected conflict over our very different work hours because I was a high school teacher and he worked during all hours of the day. We expected frustration when I would have to force myself out of bed for work when he slept in after a late night shoot. What we did not expect was my jealousy of his creativity and of him as an artist.
My husband and I do not even work in the same medium but that did not matter. I envied how quickly he seemed to have found his voice as an artist after only a couple of months of being a freelance photographer.
I have been painting and drawing ever since I have been old enough to hold a pencil but I had no direction when it came to my art-making. I burned with envy on the inside, that he seemed to be ahead of me artistically and creatively while I was still struggling. I felt so inadequate in comparison. Moreover, I was ashamed of my envious heart towards my spouse.
The lie is that everyone else has it all figured out but you.
By nature, my husband doubts himself a lot. Whenever he even mentioned uncertainty about his artistic direction, it was difficult being a sympathetic ear because I thought he had it all figured out. In reality, my jealousy of him was unjustified because his struggles stemmed from not having found his artistic voice. He knew he loved to shoot portraits and how to do it well, but he was also praying for discernment on God's purpose for his photography. Now, he has clearer direction, but he still struggles daily to intentionally trudge through the mundane to be a better follower of Christ first, then a husband, and lastly a photographer.
I am no longer jealous but instead have the utmost respect for him.
Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves
with some of those who are commending themselves.
But when they measure themselves by one another
and compare themselves with one another,
they are without understanding.
- 2 Corinthians 10:12
The Truth is that no one has it all figured out.
If anyone tells you that they have it all figured out for the rest of their life, it is highly probable that person is either lying or ignorant. Life is unpredictable and likewise, your artistic voice is not static but ever-changing. It constantly progresses and matures as you deal with unforeseeable life experiences every single day and as you choose to invest in it via daily mundane practice.
Taking this a step further, the more you invest daily in your relationship with Christ, the clearer He is about guiding you in the right direction in all aspects or your life. The more you trust in Christ, the more comfortable you become with the fact that you will always have questions about your purpose in life until the day you die.
When we allow comparison to consume us, this reality will frustrate us to no end: there is always someone better and more creative than us. And sometimes, to add insult to injury, they have less experience and are younger than us, or they happen to be your spouse. Just thinking about it is discouraging!
Rather, as Christian artists and creatives, is it not our duty to encourage each other to pursue the Lord and not the next big job in hopes of glorifying our name? Otherwise, what sets us apart from the others in our cutthroat industry?
Who have you been comparing yourself and/or your work to? How has the comparison been destructive to you and your relationship with the Father? What can you do to break that pattern?