Heart Into Art. Heartbreak Into Passion.

What if we took the gem of what Meryl Streep said last night —about having empathy toward others, and turning heartbreak into art— and just focused on that?

And what I mean by this is: focus on those positive, life-giving invitations she made, and not on what Trump said afterwards?

Because you knew what he was going to say afterwards, right? You knew he was going to tweet something about how she was overrated, and you knew he’d probably deny mocking the disabled reporter.

In fact, last night I had a Facebook friend who came eerily close to predicting almost exactly what his actual tweet said.

So, why are we focusing on him?

What is there that is life-giving in that?

Why not, instead, take the kernel of powerful truth that Meryl Street spoke last night, and build on that?

74th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: Meryl Streep, recipient of the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)
(Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

That kernel being two powerful thoughts…

That one of the most abiding human traits is to have empathy with others…

That one of the most powerful things artists do is to turn “heartbreak” into “art.”

Those two thoughts?

There is much positive there.

Yes, the rest of the speech was great, and well crafted. Streep aimed for the metaphors of the night… “Hollywood,” “Foreign,” and “Press.” Three metaphors that are widely disparaged by Trump supporters, for sure. She turned those metaphors nicely in a way that was also deep and true.

But it does not seem to me that any of those three were her primary point. Her primary point is that all of us who engage in Art….all of us who engage in persuasion…all of us who engage in callings that seek to engage the human soul….we have the ability to engender, foster, and give birth to….empathy

And, in this, we have the ability to turn our “heartbreak” into our callings. Which reminds me of something I’ve been writing about for several years now.

For several years now, I’ve been a champion of a little phrase called “Follow Your Heartbreak.”

It’s really the gist of what Streep was noting last night, in quoting Carrie Fisher. Streep was referencing artists and our ability to turn heartbreaking things into art.

But it’s not just a dynamic limited to artists. It actually works for everyone.

The concept comes first from a man named Umair Haque, who wrote this in a New Year’s blog a few years back…

“Follow your passion, we’re often told. But how do you find your passion? Let me put it another way: what is it that breaks your heart about the world? It’s there that you begin to find what moves you. If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak. Your heartbreak points towards a truer north — and it’s the difficult journey towards it that is, in the truest sense, no mere passing idyllic infatuation, but enduring, tempestuous passion.”
— Umair Haque

Three steps:
Follow your heartbreak.
Surrender to it.
Find your passion.

(Northaven members will recall the gist of this concept as a part of a sermon series a few years back. It’s one of the book ideas I have been tossing around lately: “Follow Your Heartbreak. Find Your Passion.”)

See, artists know this, intuitively.

They understand that the deepest search for human meaning will always include the deepest pains in human experience. And they allow themselves to follow those experiences, trusting that out of that following something beautiful can be born.

Out of death comes life…out of hope comes despair…

Or, even if there’s no happy ending at the end of the story, out of this process, at the very least, comes empathy.

So, what if you ignored Donald Trump’s tweets?

What if, whether you consider yourself to be an artist or not, you worked toward those things that engender *empathy* in others, not scorn? And yes, not only empathy for those you agree with, but even empathy for those with whom you disagree?

And what if you allowed your heartbreak to speak to you too?

Because, I’ll tell you a secret…
This process not only belongs to the artist. It belongs to ALL human beings.

Artists turn heartbreak into art.
Humans turn heartbreak into *callings.”

Into passions.
Into ideas that change the world.
So, what if we focused on that, instead?


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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of The Woods United Methodist Church in Grand Prairie, Texas. For seventeen years, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas, Texas. Eric is an avid blogger and published author. Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy.

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