Finding Purpose in the Arts

My daughter, Brooke, and I walked into the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit located near the base of the Space Needle in Seattle and were mesmerized by the visual candy offered. The spectacular colors, shapes, and lighting reminded me of being in Disneyland—only this was a wonderland of another kind.

Although I live in the area and the museum has been open since 2012, I hadn’t taken the opportunity to visit until then. No reason other than being busy with life and responsibilities.

A native of Washington State, Dale Chihuly’s work is displayed in over two hundred museums around the world. There’s blown glass—and then there’s Chihuly glass. Not only has this artist created stunning pieces himself, Dale co-founded a school of glass here in Washington where the art of glass blowing is taught to talented students.

We spent a delightful day enjoying his work.

Isn’t it wonderful that Dale Chihuly followed his passion—his dreams? He’s brought beauty to a world that too often is plagued with disappointment and even despair.

Dale found his purpose through the arts.

It’s experiences like these that remind and help me appreciate how God has gifted people in a variety of ways.

I cringe when I read about funding for the arts being cut. Or when I hear parents discouraging their children from pursuing the arts because it’s a waste of time and not lucrative.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m a strong believer in the benefits of science and technology. I have a BS degree, and I majored in biology and minored in chemistry. But, I discovered that’s not where my talents are the strongest, nor are those areas where I’m most passionate.

I’ve always told my children that I don’t care what they do for a living. I don’t care if they have a prestigious job or make a lot of money.  My hope has always been that they be happy and fulfilled in whatever they choose to do.

I have fond memories of an elderly woman who was my art teacher from the time I was in elementary school through my junior year in high school. As a child, I looked forward to her twice weekly visits to the classroom, and while we quietly painted, drew pictures, or pieced together our projects, she read to us. We couldn’t wait to hear the next chapter of whatever book she was currently reading. Double benefits! What a wise woman!

We need the arts—music, dance, theater, literature, and art to make this world a better, beautiful, and more enjoyable place. The arts inspire! They can even bring hope.

My desire for you is that if you’re passionate about the arts that you never give them up to follow someone else’s dream for you.

The scientists, mathematicians, doctors, lawyers, carpenters, and so many others need you . . .

Trust me . . . if your heart is with the creative arts, you have purpose.

Have you ever struggled with choosing something you’re passionate about over a better paying or prestigious job?

Have you ever wanted to pursue an area in the arts only to be discouraged by others?

How have you handled those feelings?


A Simple Solution to Finding Purpose

Sometimes we look for something “big” when seeking purpose in our lives.

I’ve been guilty of it. As a first-born overachiever, it’s who I am. Go big or go home. Yes, I’ve struggled with that.

We’re human, and I think many of us want to do something that will make a huge impact. We may even be a bit envious of those who accomplish great things, create charitable foundations, or contribute to meaningful projects in our communities—even other countries.

We may ask, “Why can’t I do something as awesome?”

But, let’s pull back a second. Who says we have to do something extraordinary in order for it to make a difference in someone’s life?

I love the following quote . . .

People will forget what you said, forget what you did,
but never forget how you made them feel.
—Maya Angelou

Maya’s words remind us that we can find great purpose in making someone feel important, cared for, appreciated—noticed!

It also reminds us that when we do acts of service, we need to check our hearts for motives.

For instance, we can serve meals to the homeless, but if we make them feel less than—not worthy—or disrespected in any way, we’re not really “serving” them. At that point, the act becomes more about us and how we’re trying to make ourselves feel.

Purpose can come in unexpected ways. Recently, I was contacted by a woman to wanted to read one of my novels and write a review. It’s something she does on a regular basis for authors. But when I responded to her message, I didn’t hear from her. After a week had gone by, I tried to reach her again. She apologized for her lack of communication. She’d been going through a rough time, still grieving over the death of a young grandchild she was close to.

That unexpected admission opened up the door for us to have more conversation, and it gave me the opportunity to offer empathy, genuine care, and encouragement needed at the time. The original connection was all about a book review, but it turned into a greater purpose.

Unplanned opportunities to minister to people’s needs come along. Be open to them—take the time—and you may find your purpose that day was as simple as making someone feel good.

Anyone can find dirt in someone. Be the one who finds gold.

So, what do you think? Can you find purpose in making others feel good about themselves? Will you look for ways to offer encouragement to people who need it?


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