Advent 2023 · Hope

The Spirit of Christmas in Our Work

By Bethany Souder

Title of work: Grandmama’s View

I’ve always been creative. It’s manifested itself in different materials throughout the years from building forts in the backyard and making bracelets as a kid to refinishing furniture pieces or trying a new recipe in more recent years. I can’t help it. There’s just something about creating and making things that I’ve realized helps lift the weightiness of the world we live in. It slows me down when I get overwhelmed and creates space for hope. 

In the last few years, I’ve had a pretty dramatic shift in my creative process. For years I had been unintentionally pursuing perfectionism in every area of my life and it was stealing my joy and wearing me thin. Through a long and continuing journey of learning how to let go of my own unrealistic expectations of myself, I have been relearning the joy of having freedom in my own creative process. What would it look like to have a joyful creative process like when I was a kid? What if I let go of the worries that perfectionism was instigating in my mind? The thoughts of “Will I be a success?” “Will my work connect with anyone?” “Does my work have any meaning or real value?” “Am I wasting my time?” I am learning how to have peace in who I am as an artist because of who I am in Christ. Can you imagine what freedom that brings? Because of the coming of Jesus, I have the favor of the Holy Spirit working in my life. I believe that the Holy Spirit is active in my painting process and I am not on my own to make my artistic career a success. My job as an artist is to show up and be faithful to the calling and gift I’ve been given from the Father. With this, He blesses me as the artist with peace about the process. Who we are in Christ gives us the freedom to create incredible things in a joy-filled process and feel peace about success because He already came and we are already His!

Title of Work: Variegated Rubber Tree No. 41

I love the idea of living in the spirit of Christmas the whole year round. The spirit of generosity and having something to clearly be joyful and celebratory over just makes me feel good. Living like I believe what Jesus says about me is true might just be the piece I’ve been missing in order to live in the spirit of Peace and Hope that Christmas brings the whole year round. I am loved. I am chosen. I am free. I am precious to Him. The spirit of the living God lives in me.

Title of Work: Iris No. 1

About the Artist

Chattanooga-based artist Bethany Souder cultivates calmness through her botanical and landscape watercolors. After chasing perfectionism at the beginning of her career, she now finds joy in letting go and embracing the fluid energy of watercolor. Bethany’s lighthearted approach celebrates the beauty of everyday objects – botanicals, landscapes, and architecture. While precision still characterizes her work, Bethany realized that embracing imperfection allows her work to flourish. Watercolor’s inherent fluidity gives her the freedom to let go and find calm in the process.