Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Value of the Valley

Creative highs and lows are what we call "An Occupational Hazard".

There's nothing like that awesome feeling where everyone gets what you are doing, and people are lining up to tell you how much you blessed them. You feel like you are making a difference in people's lives, and you see real results. You actually see God working right before your eyes.

But then, one day, the phone stops ringing. The church folk just seem a little distant. The songs just are not coming, and you wonder if you will ever write again. Life steps in with personal things you simply must deal with and you must put family issues on the front burner. Someone gives you a very negative review, one that hurts. You pray to God to give you strength, but truly feel like maybe He wants you to quit all this creative nonsense and go sell shoes.

"And then...depression set in"
- Bill Murray (Stripes)

Welcome to the valley, folks.

This is the place where you can find solace, you can be free, find yourself even. Really. In this place, you can. 

If you get to the mountain top, odds are you started in the valley, or might have to go through one again. This is a very real and normal part of being a creative person.

Be Patient

"Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.” - Richard M. Nixon

Valleys are meant to build our character. These times away from our craft or our processes are building us in ways we can't imagine. God has a pretty good idea what He wants, so don't think just because you aren't working creatively for Him, He's not working creatively in you.

I definitely should have majored in music in college. It's so simple to see now. I could have been through school in four years with a degree. Instead, I took the "Thirty-Year, Three-college" plan. Very expensive, and a lot of walking.

To think if I had gone to Belmont College in Nashville and majored in music business like I wanted! Geez, my contemporaries would have been Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.

But no.

Instead I petered out of my first college. I went on the road playing bars and Holiday Inns across the Midwest, went back to school in Chicago, worked for college and pro sports, worked for computer companies, developed corporate CD-ROMs and web sites, spent two years as a video editor, before finally striking out on my own as a full time music producer, and barely making it.

But, guess what?

Here I am. All those years that I could say were "wasted" were actually God sharpening me, getting me ready. All that time I felt like I was marking time living alone in Chicago, I was growing as an arranger and songwriter (towards what I do now). All that time I felt like a failure as a producer, I was keeping bread on the table by working as a web designer (which I do now for clients). All the time I was making small recordings for myself or friends, that no one was hearing, was building my production skills (which is what I do now). And all the computer jobs, professional jobs, working with clients and people, was honing my shepherding and leadership skills (which I've used to lead artists, as well as manage music and studio personnel). All the songs I was writing that I thought no one would ever hear or have use for, are now being used on projects by artists who need songs!

Do you see? Even the worst times in my life were vitally important as they would lead directly to put me in a position to write this for you, have songs for a cool project, direct a music video, or design a new music web site.

If you find yourself in a valley today (or tomorrow), and it's TOUGH: Keep your head up and remember, God is building you for something. He has a plan for you, and is adding something even now to prepare you for the mountain top.

"When you are in the valley, keep your goal firmly in view and you will get the renewed energy to continue the climb." - Denis Waitley

"And how blessed all those in whom you love, whose lives become roads you travel; They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God--traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn--Zion! God in full view!" - Psalm 84 (The Message)

Have a great week!

EC
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Producer, Songwriter, and Creative Soul President Eric Copeland knows the valley, but he also knows what can come after. If you're in a valley and need help with your music and ministry, check out http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

6 comments:

  1. Were you intentionally writing this for me?? I know that's not the case, but this was much needed encouragement this morning. Thank you :)

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  2. This blog is steeped in so much truth. So thankful for you and what you have done through Creative Soul.

    God prepares and develops our character through all of our trials, but they can be so painful and difficult as we go through them. Also impossible to see the end result. But He loves us so much that He is not content to leave us where we are at, but to gently shape us and move us forward to something greater that He has planned for us. And He let's us use the experience of those trials to comfort others with that strength and hope we have found from weathering them.

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  3. Eric, this was SO encouraging. TODAY I'm in the very valley you speak of, wondering if I'm doing what God wanted. I took a huge step of faith a few months ago in taking on Full-time music ministry, and now wondering if I made the right move! Thank you for allowing me to know I'm not the only one who goes through this roller coaster ride! Thank you and God Bless!! -Chris Hayle

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  4. Great to hear this was a help Chris. I really can't see that God is sitting in His Heaven and saying, "Hmm, I really wish Chris HADN'T started a serious ministry for me." Don' t let the world or so-called advisers make you think that working for Him with passion is ever wrong.

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  5. Great word Eric! Blessings - JP

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  6. Love when you share your personal journey.

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About the Author

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com