I have so much doubt/Permission to shine

Just a quick note to let you know that I have received an order of Download Cards, which are just $10 each. These little cards, the size of a business card each have an individual download link to a PDF or Kindle file of my book Sing it out, and MP3s of each of the songs on my album I Joyfully Sing. For the budget conscious, these are a great little way to get access to the arty things! 🙂 If you send me an email (elisabeth_doherty@hotmail.com) with your postal address or email address, I will send you an invoice and a download link today. Easy! I can post or email the download cards.

And now, a few shiny thoughts….

It’s a 90s favourite by Australian pop duo Bachelor Girl. The song is called “Permission to shine”. I’m gonna give myself permission to shine …. shine a little of my light on the world are just some of the lyrics from the chorus.

In the final chapters of my new book “Sing it out”, I talk about this song. Not because it’s a particular anthem for our time or anything, or because it is particularly profound as a piece of music, but because it expresses something of the internal struggle we all experience.

This concept of giving ourselves permission to shine, or letting our light shine is biblical too. In Matthew 5:15, Jesus tells us to be salt for the earth and light for the world.

Yet…..What about the darkness? what about that temptation to hide our light under a bushel?

In the final scene of the powerful film “Doubt”, Meryl Streep’s character confesses: “I have so much doubt.”

She is talking in the context of not knowing 100 percent sure if someone she is accusing is guilty. She feels a sense of responsibility. She has a feeling, a strong, intuitive feeling, but she doubts it. The fear that subsumes her is real.

Questions of fear and doubt plague creatives too.

There are times where we feel affirmed, as though we could take off and fly, do all of the things, be brave. We feel a sense of quiet power and inexplicable joy.

And there are moments of doubt. These moments can paralyze us if we let them.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love says:

“Fear and creativity are conjoined twins. What holds people back from being creative is that in order to murder the fear, they end up killing off the creativity as well.”

I have had some moments recently, since releasing my art to the world where I have freaked out.

People have a variety of responses. Some are silent. Some affirm but don’t engage with the art.

Some say “congratulations”, and my response is bashful or dismissive. I might think: “Congratulations? For what? – I self-published. I didn’t bravely put myself up for scrutiny by a publisher like others do.”

Sometimes that fact alone makes me wonder if even putting a price on it is right, so I give it away to the lowest bidder.

And while most won’t expressly tell you that your art is bad, taste plays a significant part in whether you have any commercial success with it. I know that my market is a declining, niche one.

People unsubscribe, critique, all things that are part of the process, but they make me question my worth.

And the spiral of negativity starts.

I’m sharing this with you, because sometimes we all need to take courage and move beyond the doubt, and let the criticism roll off us gently. We need to name the challenges that come with creating, as well as the sense of accomplishment.

Author Marianne Williamson is famously quoted with saying the following, which is something creatives need to hear:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

In one of my songs on my new album which is called “Shine on me”, the chorus is written like a prayer. The prayer is a petition, using the words of St Teresa of Avila, that light would shine through me (and you who listens and sings along) and liberate me in some way, allowing me to be God’s hands and feet on earth.

Its theology might not be perfect, I admit that much of my music uses the pronoun “I” instead of “we”.  Rather than trying to be a heretic or discourage congregational worship, these songs are an honest attempt to write for personal prayer and reflection, rather than for use in corporate worship.

But there it is again – that doubt. The questions. The fumbling for authenticity.

Maybe that theology, in the context of a personal project is acceptable?

Maybe it actually doesn’t matter at all what pronoun we use if we are being true to the intention?

My hope is that this art will be worthy, and that is will enable others to experience a sense of worth, and permission too.


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