How do you practice creativity, having been made in the image of God? What talents do you have in your hand?
I have aspired to be a writer since the day I typed my first story in all caps on my mother’s typewriter. I was eight years old. I consumed fairy tales and wrote stories and poems all through high school. I attended every writing workshop taught by local authors in our public library, and tried submitting manuscripts for publication. I labored over literary fiction, a cumulative tale, and narrative poetry in graduate school…then married my best friend and traded writing aspirations for motherhood. Authorial ambitions were abandoned.
Motherhood is the ultimate work of creativity, but it leaves little energy for art. I struggled to make time for writing. Leaving my poor talent to languish in the earth (Matthew 25), I craved the sensory aptitudes of others: drawing, nature study, music, cake decorating, etc. I grew increasingly frustrated because I couldn’t draw, didn’t have a plan for nature study, and kept forgetting to practice the piano. I grieved my inadequacies.
The steward in Matthew 25 buried his master’s silver talent in the ground, where it remained, cold and lifeless, profiting no one. By contrast, human talents are embedded with life, like seeds that have to grow. Bury them, abandon them–they lie dormant until God’s purposes are fulfilled. They can’t wait forever, because humans made in the image of God are designed to create.
By God’s grace, I am realizing that He has given me a gift. Whether or not I ever learn brush drawing with watercolors, whether or not I ever adorn a birthday cake with anything more than sprinkles, or finish a fair isle sweater, or excel in any minor skill, I cannot ignore the gift of writing any longer. Two books have spurred me on in the past week: 2019 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and Welcome to the Writer’s Life (caution: some vulgarity). Writer’s Life has motivated me to set goals of freewriting and journaling, to carry small notebooks for capturing those precious fleeting lines, to read great works and copy pages of masterful writing. I love this quote:
In a way, to be a writer, you just sit down and write. But in another way, there’s so much more to it than that. You have to multiply your efforts with rituals you’ll stick to. You have to find a way to seek enjoyment to balance out the frustration so that you don’t give up. You have to trust that what you’re doing enriches your life on its own but also hold the hope that it might enrich the lives of others.
The same principles apply to motherhood and homeschooling, by faith. It’s the faithful habits, the grit to embrace your calling, the understanding that you are a unique artist-servant with a tribute to offer your king.
While I struggle with carving out time to fashion something from the creative alcoves of my soul in the midst of my duties, joy follows good habits and refreshes my daily service. I am working on the 100 days of Keeping goal to write in my journal, and also revising manuscripts stashed in my files, finding just the right word to improve a phrase or meter. Developing this talent of mother culture is a great way to teach my children that the purpose of writing is not getting it right the first time.
My preference for creative writing or knitting may become a distraction from duty, but now I am more determined to finish my tasks so I may delight in the freedom to make something. That’s the kind of motivation I hope to model for my children.
Dear Mama, what is your passion? What kind of beauty resonates with you and rouses your heart to respond? Invest the time in whatever hidden art cannot be suppressed. Bless your family and anyone else with whom God chooses to share it. The earnest offering shall be returned to you with interest. Your cup will overflow, and in glory your ears will ring with commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Highly recommended reading: Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer