As all things do, relationships eventually come to an end, due to varying circumstances. In the case of creative and entrepreneurial partnerships, sometimes they end amicably in agreement with all parties going their separate ways. At other times, they can end abruptly, due to professional conflict, bankruptcy or betrayal, with the impacted party sometimes only becoming aware of their fate in the final seconds of the door closing--similar to the unforgettable scene within the final act of The Godfather Part II, in which Michael Corleone closes the door on his wife, ending their relationship. On those occasions, there is little to no opportunity to recoup shared stakes or value, amidst the immediate need for damage control to remain financially or professionally solvent. When these moments of sudden change occur over the course of the creative career, how can artists achieve closure and maintain their standing and composure?
The unexpected closing of doors and relationships can be particularly traumatic—given the direct correlation of investments made personally and financially. For creative entrepreneurs weathering the subsequent stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance in the space of loss, there can be measurable gains made through self-examination towards self-awareness—however, the silence of that space can also usher in a sense of abandonment that can make it difficult to recover and rebuild optimism. This can be seen within the narrative of Job within scripture, who suffered great and immediate, back-to back losses, losing his health, personal and professional relationships, and cumulative wealth—as well as his family, in the deaths of his sons and daughters:
“I am being honest, God. Accept my word.
There is no one else to support what I say.
My days have passed; my plans have failed;
My hope is gone.
But my friends say night is daylight;
They say that light is near,
But I know I remain in darkness.
Where is there any hope for me?
Who sees any?”
The element of trust, as expressed through relationship with the Creator, can prove crucial in anchoring artists in the absence and undoing of previous alliances, as they work to combat the fears and anxiety that threaten to devour all hope.
This level of trust and relationship is mirrored in scripture within the career arc of Jewish nobleman and exile, Daniel, who served under the kings of the Babylonian and Persian empires.
As he gained favor and advancement under the rule of King Darius, in his supervision of the king’s governors, Daniel’s colleagues grew increasingly jealous of his stature and ability. Given Daniel’s administrative excellence, ethics and supervisory talents, his competitors collectively decided to capitalize on his relationship with the Creator towards his downfall. To achieve this, they colluded to create a law prohibiting any form of prayer. Infraction of the law would result in the offender being thrown into a pit of lions.
Upon learning of the new law, Daniel immediately stood his ground, anchoring himself in his relationship with the Creator by publicly resuming his prayers three times a day from an open window. After receiving reports from Daniel’s detractors—and simultaneously discovering the context and impact of the law on Daniel—the king worked quickly to find a way to absolve Daniel, but because of the sovereignty of the law, he was unable to pardon him. That same day, Daniel’s fate was sealed, with his professional doors, and the door of his existence, closed literally and figuratively with the placing of a large stone over the lion’s den to prevent his escape. However, Daniel’s trust in the Creator, as the source of his talent and favor, ironically proved to be his salvation, serving as his protection through the darkness of the night, as seen below:
“The king was overjoyed and gave orders for Daniel to be pulled up out of the pit. So they pulled him up and saw that he had not been hurt at all, for he trusted God.”
When doors close, and new windows of opportunity are yet to open amidst the loss of professional networks and relationships, creatives can achieve closure and focus through trust in the Creator, as the protector and mentor of their talents.