As a child I naturally inherited an interest in art, drawing and painting to be specific. Being a JW, the paintings and drawings in the literature always caught my eye and piqued my interest. As I got older, and bettered my artistic abilities, I was often encouraged to put Bethel as a goal, though it was family friends more so than my parents who suggested that I should pursue a Bethel career, using my artistic skills. Interestingly The outside world was always quick to note my "god given talent", though my parents and other witnesses never attributed my skill as gifted to me by god... just that I should use my ability as a gift offering to god, by using it to help bring praise to him, and work towards joining Bethel. This interested me, and throughout my middle school and early high school careers, it was what I wanted to do. The jws that encouraged me often said that if I qualified for Bethel service, I wouldn't necessarily be used in the art department, but how ever "Jehovah saw fit to use me", though some would quickly follow up by saying surely with my abilities I would be used at some point in the art department. This gave me pause. Art was all I ever thought of. Inside, all i ever wanted was to be an artist, painting and drawing for the rest of my life. I didn't want to spend time doing something else in the hope that I would eventually, maybe get to work in the art department. Later in my high school career, my art interests took a turn and became more specific. I pursued a specific genre of art and painting that would never be used at Bethel, and therefore the idea fell from my radar. I was disfellowshipped at 19, and went out into the world, pursuing my artistic goals, where I found success. I have risen to be amongst the top in my artistic field, respected by my peers worldwide, having my work sold and displayed around the US, as well as a few other places around the world, and have been published in numerous journals, both artistic and secular (I only mention this to explain why I'm being a bit vague, as if I were to give some specifics it might give me away to the wrong person(s). Ok, and I was bragging a little 😉). In perusing the archives on this site, i have come across quite a few others who've followed their artistic careers, in writing, fine art/illustration, or musically. Some of your stories are great and inspiring. I enjoyed reading them, especially some of you who went to Bethel and served in the art department. You see, truth be told, for a long time part of me regretted not pursuing my Bethel dreams. Being a professional artist can be difficult and has it's up and downs. I often thought, even though I was disfellowshipped and long gone, that had i pursued my childhood goal of Bethel service, i would've had less worries and felt more long lasting fulfillment (another artist thing; being an artist can be full of extreme highs and lows. Art is emotional. You're only as good as your last piece, mentally you're always pushing to do more, and better on your next piece, never satisfied with the last) of course I was always taught I would never find true fulfillment outside of the organization, so I attributed these feelings to falling away. See, even though I was Df'd and physically long gone, I still believed and was still mentally in. Interestingly however, it was an incident later on, with my art and JW's, that really helped wake me up. Perhaps I will share that later. I really didn't write this to be about my life, but it kinda wandered that way... lol. Anyway, reading a few of your Bethel experiences definitely made me grateful to have followed my heart instead.
What I was really working towards was the observation, it seems there are quite a few artistic individuals, who were once witnesses. While a great many people possess some sort of amateur artistic abilities, very few pursue an art form as a profession. Yet, it would seem a few of us here, have. I am intrigued, a bit. Perhaps it's due to the fact that artistic interests weren't as discouraged as say sports or other secular pursuits. Perhaps there's another reason. Maybe my acute senses are noticing something that's not really worthy of mention (kinda like when you buy a car, and then start noticing all the other cars similar to yours...)
Anyway, if you are an artist, painter, musician, writer, I love reading and hearing your experiences. Thank you.