"I think I'm going to start blogging again." I said to her over our morning coffee date. "That's good!" she replied because she's awesome and supportive. "Why'd you quit in the first place?"It was a valid question that I hadn't even asked myself yet. The fact was I was frustrated that I had worked so hard on every post. Prayerfully considering every word. Searching my soul for hope and truth. Dredging the mud and mire of my heart hoping to produce good art. And my last post had a grand total of 30 views.I was just frustrated that no one seemed to be paying attention to what I felt was solid writing. I was frustrated that other blogs that I had deemed inferior got thousands of views and that blogger received sponsors and book deals and launched a lucrative writing career. While I felt like just another useless voice in the crowd. So I quit.Feel free to judge me if you like. I'm judging myself. This is a confession of sorts. I'm showing you my weakness and letting you decide what you want to do with it. Denounce me as an insincere jerk or relate with my honesty. Either way I'm cool with it.After I had expressed these frustrations to my wife she looked at me for a moment, making sure my selfish rant was over and she asked me one of those questions that I hate and love because they mean more than what they seem on the surface:"Well, what's your point in blogging? Because if it's to help and encourage people then you're already doing that..."One of the reasons I love her is that she said the positive and left the accusation unsaid. ...if your point is becoming known, if it's getting a book deal and ignoring the people that read and need encouragement...then you're missing the point.The problem was that I had caught the western disease of wanting so desperately to be a hero. I had confused being "known" with being good. I felt this pressure to do "great things" for God and when I tried and failed it felt like I must be a bad writer or God doesn't love me enough to use me to reach a massive audience. This crooked way of thinking had permeated my cells. Confusing being known/popular/famous with being good/talented/loved.I recognized that grossness in myself and so in reaction I stopped blogging for a few months more. I had to try to suck the poison out. I have always known that a humble life lived before God isn't a bad life...I just had to kill that western cancer that told me otherwise everyday.There is a difference between being a hero and being a saint."We want to be heroes, we don’t really want to be saints. The difference between the heroic vision and the saintly vision is a fundamentally different way of viewing the purpose of life." -Brian Zahnd
So as I sit down to write online again I have to ask myself: What's the point?My hope is to spread hope. To remind folks that feel less than perfect, that probably won't step inside of a church that they are not alone. I try and fail everyday. Sometimes the most saintly action is getting back up and trying again.I hope to connect with a loving Creator by trying to create...and reminding others that they can too.Even if it's just to an audience of One.Sorry if that was corny. Here's an intelligent quote about the difference between heroes and saints. Thanks for reading.“For the hero the meaning of life is honor. For the saint the meaning of life is love. For the hero the goal of living is self-fulfillment, the achievement of personal excellence, and the recognition and admiration that making a signal contribution to one’s society through one’s achievements carries with it. For the saint, life does not so much have a goal, as a purpose, for which each human being is responsible, and that purpose is love, and the bonds of concern and care that responsibility for one’s fellow human beings carry with it. These two paradigms, the hero and the saint, and the way of life that descends from each, are really two fundamentally distinct and genuinely different visions of human society as a whole, and even of what it means to be a human being. They are two distinct and different ways of asking the question of the meaning of life.”
-Francis J. Ambrosio, Philosophy, Religion and the Meaning of Life
...give us this day our daily bread. *photo by Denise Helms 2011
-Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray
Sometimes it's difficult to read the gospels. We are separated from the way they were originally written by two thousand years of history, culture changes and language.
When I read the words of Christ, I try to imagine the sand in my sandals, the hot middle Eastern sun beating down on my head. I try to imagine the smells of camels and donkeys and sweating fishermen. I try to feel that same swell in my spirit that these men and women must have felt while wondering is this the one that was promised? Will He lead us to freedom?
I imagine the bravery it took to call out to this teacher, this amazing healer, "Master, teach us how to pray!"
And then he begins, his words are simple but sweet, the prayer is short but beautiful. It is poetic and intimate and practical at the same time.
There are only a few things I pray for on a daily basis, and usually it isn't bread. I like bread and everything but not everyday. But everyday I do pray for wisdom, creativity and that God be with me throughout my day.
I am not a Calvinist. I think I want to be, but I'm not. It would be great to say "oh, this was all planned out before I walked this Earth so I don't need to worry about anything, my choices don't matter because I believe in the sovereignty of God."
Please don't get me wrong, I believe that God is sovereign and wise and powerful and above all things. But if I know myself and I know that if I threw myself into Calvinism I would do nothing. Make no choices. Rather than working to make the world better I would wash my hands and say that this is God's will.
I used to pray for God's direction in my life and abandon myself to His will.
Now I pray everyday for wisdom. I believe that, like a good Father, He has taught me how to make good choices and then gives me the opportunity to make those choices. He has taught me to learn from mistakes and failures, to pick myself up when I fall down.
At the end of all things I believe I shall stand before Him and give account of my life. If I only did what He told me then I'd have nothing to be accountable for. But instead I'll tell Him "Thank you for the wisdom you gave me...I did my best."
I believe He'll smile, and like a good dad will hug me and whisper in my ear "That's all I wanted, did you have a good time?" and we will sit and tell each other stories like I did when my parents would pick me up from camp and I couldn't wait to tell them about my week.
"Be looking for a package coming in the mail soon." My wife said to me one morning as we were getting ready for work.
"Oh, okay what did you order?" I asked because I'm a curious sort.
"Broken watches" she answered, with a smile lighting up her face.
When the package arrived she ripped into it like a kid on Christmas morning.
"Aren't they beautiful?" she asked me while showing off her prize.
I looked into the box but all I saw were old broken pocket watches.
She was clearly seeing something that I wasn't.
Over the next few days I heard music blasting from our office/creative space and the sounds of hammering. Finally she called me into the office to look at what she had made.
She had taken old, broken and dirty pocket watches and had made beautiful pieces of custom jewelry. She had created wearable art.
She had scrubbed years of rust and dirt off of the metal cogs and balances and had repurposed them into something beautiful.
She had seen art inside of the broken and transformed the useless into something different, something new.
When we first come to God it is so painfully obvious that we are broken. Humble and pitiful before a great and mighty God. He is Holy and just and we are...broken.But something amazing happens...He sees beauty in the broken. He looks past all of the dirt and rust and decay and sees art. He sees the art inside of us that we cannot see anymore.So He redeems us, repurposes us. He makes us into something new, something different. He repurposes us. A wise man once told me that it is important to be broken before God, but there is a word for something that stays broken: useless.Let God see the art inside of you. Things will change, not look like they did before, but that's okay. The watches no longer tell time, that has passed. Now they are something so new and so beautiful.And so as you and I are repurposed, made new, I say to you: See the beauty in the broken. See the art down deep inside of another's soul. See with the hyperopic eyes of Heaven. The world is full of beauty and beautiful people that can't see the art in themselves. Help them to see it, as God sees it in you.By the way, if you want you to own any of these one of a kind pieces, then check out my wife's shop. I might be biased, but I think she's amazing.http://www.etsy.com/shop/Etherealmovements
Creative thinking...don't be afraid.
I have a friend that is a filmmaker. He isn't famous. He hasn't made anything for a studio, but once every year or so he pours himself into a script. Imagining every detail, every shot, every lighting cue...and then...he makes it.
He is a filmmaker.
Once a week or so we get together in one our favorite coffee shops in the city to discuss stories, ideas, unknot tricky plot points and dream.
He is convinced that the world is split into two different kinds of people. Creatives and non-creatives. He says that creative people create because they have to. They aren't given a choice. They are just being who they are.
I think everyone is creative. I just think people that are considered "non-creative" simply haven't found their creative outlet. Or they are afraid to try.I think everyone is creative because we were formed in the image of God. God is the most creative force in all of existence. He CREATED existence. Everything you see, feel, hear, taste and touch is something He dreamed up. He designed chords note by note, He created melody and harmony. He paints with every color. His
palette is endless. He sculpted the complex curves of the mountains, He painted the breathtaking nebulas that we can only now photograph.And we were created in His image.
So, if we are all creative then why does it seem like only a chosen few are creating? It's because it IS scary to try. It's so much safer to stay put not move. If I never try I'll never fail.
Here's the thing about Dreaming. When me and my filmmaker friend dream, we never dream about the results. We don't hope that one day he'll be a famous director, or that'll I'll have a book that's a bestseller.
We dream about the work. We imagine the movies, the stories, the books. We hope for the best but don't get bogged down worrying whether others will like it or get it. Just the creative expression.
What have you wanted to do? Try it! Make the work the reward. The freeing feeling of unabashed creativity. That's when I feel the most like myself. After I've written. After my Art has washed from my soul the dust of everyday life.
You are a creative. Now go and do.
**photo credit http://thinkjarcollective.com