“Mommy, I want to draw it but I don’t know how.”
“What is it you’re trying to draw, hon?”
“Jesus. Baby Jesus in the manger. This needs to be the FIRST Christmas.”
“Ahh. Ok. Well why don’t I get you started with the manger and you can go from there?”
I began to draw a crude little box and made scratches of pencil to make hay so she could add Baby Jesus. (My drawing skills are about a 4 year old level anyway.)
She stretched out on a blanket and proceeded to get all her stuff straightened out. Pencils, here. Paper, here. Cup of water, here. Book to put under paper, there.
I sat mere feet away, tentatively cracking my own book. Preparing to read the days’ advent reading while she drew and her little sister napped. The quiet doesn’t come often these days and I was two days behind. Just as I read three words, I saw her shoulders heave with an audible sigh.
Inwardly I sighed myself, thinking. “She’s already bored with this.” The parent in me resolved to make her finish what she started. She sighs again.
“I can’t do it. I can’t.”
“What’s the matter, Lu? You just started. You can work on it for a few more minutes, can’t you?”
“No. I can’t start it because… it won’t be perfect.”
My stomach flip-flopped as I heard those own echoed words rising up in me so very often.
“Sweetheart, it does NOT need to be perfect. Just do your best.”
“Mommy, no. No. This is different. It’s a picture of Jesus.”
“Okay… but Mommy thinks you draw beautifully. And I’m sure Jesus does too. Especially if you’re drawing something FOR HIM. God is the one who made you and He made you a little girl who likes to draw!”
Little by little she became a bit more confident. Along the way she began to truly enjoy the picture she drew until the very end, when she was positively pleased with the outcome.
But even weeks later, I wonder… Why do we do that? Why do we allow the fear of the end result keep us from making art?
Why do we shy away from doing something new, something creative, something different– or something that stretches us… all because we cannot ensure the quality of perfection?
I was, however, reminded of the sobriety that is sometimes needed. I was reminded of the need for reverence when attempting to point anyone in the direction of Christ. Especially when that picture is my own life. Is it a clear likeness?
But when God has given us a desire, a passion or even an interest in something– we need not forget that even the smallest bit of creativity is hopefully a reflection of our extremely Creative Creator. I used to think I could never be an artist. I can’t paint. I can hardly draw a straight line– (see aforementioned manger description.) but there is SO much MORE to ART than a physical canvas and a literal paintbrush.
Whether you teach 6th grade Sunday School; speech to underprivileged children, or you’re just trying to teach your 5 year old to read– Your “art” matters and you are being used. Gone are the days when we might have incorrectly estimated that there is a hard and fast line between the sacred and the ordinary. There is nothing “ordinary” that is done to glorify God. What matters is our obedience. And the outcome is not really in your hands.
Did you hear that part? Because I really need to say it again for myself.
The outcome is NOT really up to you. And we need to start these things– regardless of the feeling that we “may not have what it takes.” The fact is, we do NOT have what it takes. But He does. And this trying, this building and creating… it makes us shine brighter and gives us another avenue of worship.
Emily Freeman in her amazing book, Million Little Ways, A: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live
said it much more eloquently– “What makes us come alive goes deeper than what we choose to do in our professions and our free time. What makes us come alive is LIFE, and this life is Jesus. Painting, cooking, parenting, calculating, and conversation all have the potential to hold within them a mystery and an expression of our life in Christ.” (A Million Little Ways, pg. 30)
As my sweet four-year old revealed to me, she was afraid of beginning because she did not foresee the beauty of the ending. Her perspective was pure– but it was that of a child.
And when I step back, I see that my perspective is not always the accurate one. It comes from limited insight. But, HE sees the end from the beginning. And we will be most fulfilled when we are obedient.
So, 2014. Let’s agree to not be fearful. Pinky Promise?
You should know this being brave thing is pretty new to me too– which may be why I’m learning little lessons from watching my kiddos color. Courage. It’s not such a scary thing when we realize that it’s not ourselves we are trusting in, but He who holds Heaven and Earth in the palm of His hand.
“Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)