Friday, July 18, 2014

"Will I now have this pleasure?"

Sarah, the wife of Abraham was an old, old lady. She longed to bear a child, but it had become too late to hope. When the angel of the Lord promised that in a year she would give birth, she laughed and asked "will I now have this pleasure?" (Genesis 18:12)

I have creative friends who write, who make pictures, who make music. Some have gone through long periods of neglecting their abilities and desire to create. Some have given up hope of ever having this pleasure and have buried their talent under doubts and busyness--urgent, important or trivial depending on the day. For awhile instead of making art I baked, whipping up the perfect fluffy batter for the perfectly light and tender cake, kneading bread dough long and hard so it would rise high and stretchy with nice big holes. Baking for some is a life-giving creative act, but for me it was a fun but not quite satisfying place holder for something that felt harder and scarier. When I was single I sometimes wasted time shopping the clearance racks, not really having a good time or finding much I liked. Not so deep down, I knew I should be spending that time making something, bringing my artistic dreams into reality, but I feared the strains of that process.

I also questioned the value of my art. I was easily discouraged and I would interpret my discouragement as a sign that I was moving in the wrong direction, that what I was doing wasn't valuable. I believed that art was valuable and I loved art, but for some reason felt that I wasn't really an artist so my work wasn't really valuable, wasn't actually art. I feel a little embarrassed sharing this--it sounds so wrongheaded, but I really felt like that, really thought those thoughts, and it feels like a miracle to me that I don't believe them anymore. And I am grateful, because I didn't get rid of that junk by myself. Wise leaders, shepherds in my church, helped me sift through the lies with God's help and leave them behind. God is extravagantly creative for no use but love, and he made me creative too.

But here I am again, not getting any younger, having lost traction again, neglecting the gift that is within me, for reasons seemingly different, but essentially the same. And like Sarah, I begin to feel discouraged. I wonder "will I have this pleasure?"  I feel I've wasted so much time I could have spent developing my craft, my skills; I've fallen behind in the race. It's getting too late. But as I sit here typing, looking hard at these thoughts, they seem flimsy, a film of grime, and something better rises
inside me: peace, love, a sense of humor, thankfulness for the specific abilities and delights God has given me, and thankfulness for the time that I still have, time that participates in the eternal. What is ahead is so much greater than what is behind, and in this moment I am feeling that. Each step in the right direction is an investment in the eternal.

My last post was a baby-step. Writing this one was a bigger step. Taking pictures of some pewter charms I carved awhile ago and getting them onto my Etsy store is another.


  1. Very pretty pieces! Keep creating. All of us have probably gone through times when we don't make things, but it's part of us and we need to do it.

  2. Yes-there is a necessary rhythm of work and rest to recalibrate. But I could do without the mind games that make the "rest" last indefiniteley. Glad you liked the pieces.