Unspoken Suffering of the “Just”: An Honest Meditation of an Artist


I went for a walk in the cool of the rain and I paid particular attention to the trees on my walk. I’ve always loved the beauty of trees as they make me feel relaxed and to have a clear mind. I especially love the smell of trees and grass during a rainstorm. As I walked today, I paid attention to my favorite trees along the path. I was reminded of the scripture that caught my attention this morning.


“And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭KJV‬‬


As I contemplated the scripture, I was drawn to the fact that God intentionally created trees ”pleasant to the sight”. And these trees were specified apart from the trees that had good fruit. So their specification spoke to me that they had their own value apart from the fruit trees. In biblical writing, trees represent people. And when I considered both together, Holy Spirit highlighted that the trees that were simply pleasant to the sight were of just as much value as the trees that he created with a practical purpose like creating fruit. This spoke deeply to me as an artist.


There is an unspoken suffering that artists and other creators struggle with. We often have people admire our works as something beautiful and wonderful. Many are fascinated by the creative process and wonder how it’s done. Artists, musicians, and creatives of all kinds make beautiful things . And it is pleasing, but not always practical. Even though so many are fascinated by what we do, there is a damaging culture that silently says creatives are not as valuable as those who have practical skills. Everyone wants art, but it’s amazing how many don’t consider that art or music to be of monetary value. More often, the practical skills or products are considered worth money without even a hesitation. But every artist out there has had people shocked, and even become belligerent, that the artist requested money for a commission instead of doing it for free. There is even a devastating belief that “starving artists” create better art. The myth of the “starving artist” is something I will address another time. But all I will say now is that I 100% believe it’s an evil lie of Hell that is in place to destroy the very creativity of God’s nature residing in every human created after His image.


Creativity doesn’t just appear out of thin air. The creation is first born and incubated in the artist’s soul. The art process is simply the expression of the internal working of that artist. So when the artist experiences their art being rejected or devalued, it's a major internal war to not associate themselves as devalued. This mental battlefield is one every artist must overcome to succeed. And they rarely succeed in this battle on their own.


As the world shuts down with COVID-19 quarantine endeavors, I’ve had to face this silent struggle of self value once again. I have to be honest, I thought I had overcome it already but now comes another layer as I am trying to navigate the possibility of economic consequences. I know that art only thrives in abundance. As things shut down, everyone is only after the practical. When we are not in abundance, humanity focuses on the necessities of food and shelter. Things like art and music or not priorities. I have already lost much work to the shut down. The future is uncertain for the next year just how much I can rely on my current business as an artist where most of my income is dependent on extravagant, expensive events and entertainment. I have turned again to applying for graphic design jobs in hopes of riding out my only “somewhat” practical skill. Graphic Design is all about the practical as priority and trying to make it pleasing as a secondary focus. This process of applications has been distressing to me as I try to deal with the possibility of my passion as an artist not being “enough” value to sustain me. I was battling again the pain of being just an artist.


Just an artist. Perhaps it’s a wound only the fellow artist can understand. But it’s one of the worst things someone could say to me. The turmoil of “what I do is not who I am” is ever present in the artist's mind. When I read this scripture in Genesis I was so comforted. I felt so connected to these trees who were just pleasant to look at. I felt the value of those trees and how God made them and considered them precious and valuable just the same as the practical fruit trees. Being made just for beauty is enough. Just being beautiful is valuable. Even if this earth doesn’t see the value of the just beautiful, I know that true value is defined by its creator. I am comforted knowing I’m valuable just as God made me.


DES MOINES, IA 50310

(563) 543-9389

kathleenrolingart@gmail.com

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Kathleen Roling 2018 

Award Winning Professional

Iowa Chalk Artist Kathleen Roling