It has been 18 months since the Freehand Truth shop made a public debut across the lands of Instagram and Etsy. It’s been on “Vacation Mode” for the last 15. Math might not be your strongest point, but you read that correctly.
I was amazed by the support that I received from the new adventure of opening the shop. I was reminded of just how incredible the people are who I see every day. I met some more incredible people via the World Wide Web, who encouraged me big time. I was all in, went full steam, and got worn out. Or probably more accurately: overwhelmed.
Social media is not my thing. It just isn’t. I’m all about honesty and transparency (in fact, if you’ve ever had a conversation with me the chances are that 200 times out of 100 I have said something that has shocked you. Again with the math, I know). Transparency. Yes. So the fact that social media can so quickly be manipulated really irks me. I have quite a few good stories on the subject, but we’ll save those for another time.
I love sharing stories and talking deep life with other people. Seriously, love, love, love this. But I will ALWAYS ask to have these conversations in person if at all possible. There’s just something about sharing a meal, a hot cup of coffee (or tea), or even chatting while being curled up on a couch, that draws souls together. I am certain of it. Good news people, we live in the 21st century which means about 99% of our communication these days is done through technology. So I thrive. (I am honest. I am also sarcastic. Cheers.)
Back up to when the shop was actually open and I was excited to share about the different pieces I was working on with the few people (hey Mom!) who followed Freehand Truth. A few people grew into what felt like a small army…granted we’re talking about 100 people here but it overwhelmed me when I started looking around Etsy and realizing that if I actually wanted to go places, I was going to have to fight to be heard. The few people who were already listening all started requesting custom pieces and I was juggling too much to keep up with the numerous paintings a week, finishing up college, searching for a new job, maintaining friendships, church commitments, not to mention sleep… the last thing I wanted to do was figure out how to stage a picture and which hashtags to use in such a way to lure people in. Yeah, no. So I stopped. Everything related to painting. All at once.
God works in wonderful ways.
I’ve painted a total of about four pieces in the last 15 months. Two were donated for silent auctions, the other two for dear friends who allowed me to stand beside them as they said “I do.” With those pieces, I felt freedom when I painted; freedom that overwhelmed me as I worked the paint across a [literal] blank canvas. I enjoyed painting, but apparently I enjoyed staring at my paints sitting lonely in the corner even more. I said I didn’t have time to paint. But let’s be real, I was scared.
You can read about how the Freehand Truth shop first got started here. I wrote that a few days before the shop went live. By the end of three months I had lost sight of why I was creating: to glorify God. I was seeking to glorify my name. Not His. I was seeking to please my customers to the point to where I was losing my voice, my passion, my love for painting. Because I wanted to “make it big” and be successful.
So God put me on the bench.
Where I waited.
And waited some more.
So why now? So glad you asked. There’s this beautiful thing called being human. I am human. And so are you. We are gifted in individual and unique ways. I can paint, but social media is not my forte. I can communicate [somewhat] well, but always need help articulating ideas further. (Crazy, but I always make sense to myself. Not necessarily always to other people.) So I have incredibly gracious friends who have agreed to help with social media, editing, etc. (Everyone, when you say your prayers tonight please thank the Lord with me for the people who are going to lend a hand through this process. It takes a village. I’ve got a great one.) I am fully aware of my limits and have this great thing called accountability in place. When I am tempted to overextend–to get worn down because I’m working from a place of myself–I have beautiful friends who aren’t afraid to tell it to me like it is. We’ve also worked on this other great thing called expectations. Since we are human, aka-not God, we can’t do it all. Seriously. Can’t. Do. It. All. There will be weeks when I don’t pick up a paintbrush. And that’s okay.
The answer to “Why now?” summed up in one word(ish): a healthy view on creating.
Here’s the other component to why now: tough stuff happens. Painting has always been something that I’ve come around to after life throws a nasty punch. I have cried more in the last 15 months than I have in my entire life combined. (And that’s saying a lot because my mom loves to say that I used up all her sympathy by the time I was five.) My tears haven’t been the only ones. I’m not the only one hurting. I would bet a whole bunch of boxes of Samoa’s on the fact that you’re hurting too. Through this journey I’ve learned even more what it looks like to cling to Scripture. I want to share that with you. Not because I think I have anything profound to say, but more because I am discovering that getting my words out on paper (or screen…look at me using technology) is therapeutic. Just like painting is therapeutic. I don’t want to paint to just crank pieces out. I want to learn from them.
So I’m going to go ahead and set another thing straight – what I share on here is going to be what the Lord is teaching me. It’s going to be raw and honest. I am a huge believer that God gives us our weaknesses so that we have all the more room to proclaim Him.
See: the entire Bible.
Whether we have shared a meal together or your best friend’s roommate’s suitemate’s great aunt’s second cousin’s hairstylist sent this to you, I want you to know that I love you and am thankful for you. I am thankful that you have given a few moments of your precious time to allow the Lord to [hopefully, dear Jesus pleeeeaaase] speak through me. I want to hear from you, what you’re learning too! My prayer is that this is a safe place for that to happen. I promise to be vulnerable. I promise to listen. I promise to not do this on my own.
Let’s do this.