The path of pursuing a non-conventional career can be riddled with self doubt, uninvited opinions, and even societal disapproval.On the cusp of such a life decision, our minds buzz with questions: “Will I be able to support myself, my family?”, “What will people think?”, and “Do I have what it takes to do this?” The risk involved in stepping off the beaten path takes courage. Especially in young adulthood, when the pressure to make a choice about your career or life’s work seems to be relentless.
Alicia Welbourn knows this process well. A senior at OSU working towards her Bachelor of Fine Arts, Alicia volunteers on the Story Team as a producer and is a talented Watercolor and Calligraphy artist. While she is now on a steady schooling path and creating beautiful art, Alicia’s mental picture of her future and identity as an artist were not always so clear.
As high school graduation neared, Alicia felt that relatable pressure to figure out her next steps: college, career, life path. “Something deep within me longed for something more than just a job, and I prayed that the Lord would stir up a passion in me that I could use to honor him and that would propel me forward in this new season of my life.”
Although she always enjoyed painting and drawing as a hobby, Alicia never really considered herself an artist. At the time, art was “the thing I did on the side and would continue to do on the side once I found a ‘real job’.” She considered teaching as a career option, but there was a pull towards creative arts that just she couldn’t shake. Down to the wire and needing to make a decision, Alicia decided to put her doubts aside and invest in her natural gifts to pursue an education in art.
Though she was unsure at times, God gave Alicia the confidence that she needed to keep going. “When I didn’t feel good enough, he urged me to keep working and refining my skills. It has been a really beautiful process through which the Lord has been constantly inspiring my creativity, and teaching me about his character along the way.” As she continued to take steps forward, the sense of assurance from the Lord eclipsed her doubts. Even though choosing to pursue her gifts may have felt risky, this pursuit has proved to be far more rewarding than any other so-called safer options. Along the way, God was faithful to provide inspiring experiences, projects, and people.
Now, with graduation nearing, Alicia is filled with a new sense of confidence in the unique dream and calling God has given her. “As an artist, I feel that God has commissioned me to reveal his glory through the work that I create. I find that I am closest to him when I am surrounded by his creation, and am led to illustrate the beauty that I see in those places…[God] continues to challenge me to move forward and has planted a lot of seeds for the future as I move toward graduating college and pursuing my dream of being a full-time artist.”
Through the lens of her experience, Alicia sees calling and purpose with new clarity: “When it comes to calling, it doesn’t all work out as soon as you take the first step. We want to see it all laid out in the beginning. Just love Him and do the things you’ve been created to enjoy. There will be struggle, but we are better for it. Don’t put so much weight on what you’re ‘supposed’ to do right away. Don’t buy into the pressure.”
Alicia hopes that her story will inspire others to pursue their God-given gifts and passions. Her advice is applicable beyond the realm of pending graduates, challenging all of us to see our callings and what God can do with our lives with wider, wonder-filled eyes: “God has gifted us all in so many unique ways, and he wants us to embrace those gifts. It can be scary, and it might not look the way you think it should, but he has you. Our God is infinitely creative, and he has a plan for how he wants to use us in a way that not only brings him glory, but that leaves us fulfilled as well…He has crafted every narrative himself, and, no matter how far they might seem from the fairy tales we dream of, there is hope there somewhere. There is evidence of His great love for us.”
Any artist will tell you that there is no one right way to interpret art. Each individual approaches a piece with a unique perspective and will learn, appreciate, or be moved by a different aspect of a painting or sculpture. Rather than being frustrated by this, most artists find this to be one of the most beautiful facets of creating. The viewer is welcomed into the creative process by the individual way they perceive art. In the same way, and as we learn from Alicia’s story, we are invited into God’s own creative process when we say, “yes,” to His unique call on our life and forge a path using the gifts and talents given to us by the Father. As Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Written by: Kate Schaber || Photos by: Erica Stubblefield & Alicia Welbourn