I’m a talkative introvert who loves God, All Things Crafty and Julia Child. When in doubt, I consider more prayer, more glue or more butter. A proud Michigan State Spartan, I solve many of the world’s problems while relaxing with a skein of yarn and a crochet hook. To ensure I’m never bored, I’m also owned by a couple of beagles.
Why Creative Disciple? Well, Crafty Christian wasn’t quite what I was going for. I explore what it means to be a disciple, at the same time giving myself permission to express those discoveries in creative ways.
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Short of owning a BeDazzler, I love all the tools of being crafty. Tubes of acrylic paint with names like cadmium yellow and titanium white, beautifully textured paper, scissors that pink and scallop, embroidery floss in a rainbow of colors, and the yarn. Oh, the yarn!
I’ve always loved creating things. I was the kid who wanted a potholder loom for Christmas or a jewelry making kit for my birthday. The year I got a woodburning pen, the smell of charred wood was in the air for months. Once I started babysitting, I could afford to support my own Michael’s habit. An artist’s notepad and a tin of charcoal sent me to a picturesque area to sketch away. I made collages out of photos and phrases torn from magazines and I painted cards to give as gifts.
It took me no time at all to become completely frustrated with my lack of artistic ability. I’d watch someone mindlessly doodle while talking on the phone and end up with a frame-worthy piece of art. Or I’d see someone pick up a paintbrush and watch in awe as an entire world came to life on the canvas while I was still cranking out things that looked like they belonged dutifully tacked to the fridge with a magnet.
But did that stop me? Well, sort of, yes. It stopped me from trying to do the things for which I clearly wasn’t gifted and drove me to find ways in which my creativity could be expressed. I stopped trying to create stuff.
I found freedom in the difference between artistic talent and creative ability. To this day, I can’t draw or paint or sketch or sculpt well. But I still occasionally draw and paint and sketch and sculpt. Because the act of getting my hands involved in almost any creative activity triggers something in my brain that opens up other creative possibilities.
Sometimes that means that I find some words to string together that I might want to write down. After a while, I find I might even want to let other people read those words. When my brain goes as blank as the brand new page in front of me, my hands can sometimes find another language in which to communicate until the words come again. Ultimately, the creative process has been very healing. More on that later.
Even though I’m not a “bottom line” kind of person, here’s one that speaks my truth:
Not everyone can be artistic, but everyone can be creative.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
So no, I’m not an artist. But I’m God’s handiwork. And so are you! Seriously, how cool is that?
“Disciple” is a churchy word. Growing up, it meant the 12 guys in the bible. It evolved slightly into meaning someone much holier than me. Someone who had it all together and prayed 8 hours a day and never got mad or swore. A monk, maybe. Or a nun. Although having gone to Catholic school for six years, I do remember my share of angry nuns. Still, there was no way that I could claim to be a disciple.
Disciples were the ones who did the readings in front of everyone while I sat there trying to stay focused, rather than mentally drifting off. The guy up there looks like the doctor in that movie last night. It’s cold in here, I should’ve brought a sweater. I wonder what’s for lunch. What was that actor’s name?!
Yeah, there’s no way I’d ever be a disciple.
In the gospel of John, Jesus said,
Everyone will know you are my disciples if you love one another.
Well that’s simple enough, right? Ha! Simple but not easy. Still, it’s something I can wrap my head around, something I can try. And then 3.4 seconds later, when I mumble, “idiot” toward the driver who pulls in front of me, I think See? Told you I was no disciple!
The disciple Paul puts it this way:
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
We are being transformed. That realization, steeped in grace, allows me to say that yes, I am a committed follower – a disciple – of Jesus Christ.
Even so, please don’t pull out in front of me in traffic, I have a long enough way to go, as it is.
My first memory of grace was a prayer before a meal. You know, to say grace.
Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Grace was always a hard concept for me to grasp. I would literally have to sort out in my mind the difference between mercy and grace and repeat it over and over.
Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve; mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve.
Then there were the sayings I heard as a child. Upon seeing someone struggle to walk, my grandpa would say, “There but for the grace of God go I.” There was also the goal of exhibiting “grace under pressure,” which is how Ernest Hemingway described courage.
After a while, grace became a platitude that felt rather empty.
Imagine my giddiness when Anne Lamott made it easy for this simple brain to grasp. To summon grace – which she calls “spiritual WD-40” – simply say, “Help!”
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I’m convinced there’s something primal that awakens within me when the September air turns crisp and the leaves begin to explode in crimson, yellow and orange. I feel a tug back indoors that I remember shedding with glee back in May. Something changes as the equinox draws nearer and the days get shorter. I crave the feeling of a warm hoodie on an evening walk and there’s an undeniable desire to sit, to nest, to create.
Like the student who can concentrate better with the distraction of music or tv, I am better able to focus my thoughts if my hands are just busy enough to keep my mind’s momentum going. There’s something about the creative process that is both relaxing and energizing.
All of this was true right up until the time when painfully real life events came along and the once soothing process of expressing creativity now tore open jagged shards of thoughts and made everything much, much worse. Once that happened, it was time to put away my glue gun. For how long, I wasn’t sure. Maybe for a season, maybe for good.
(Not even in The Message was I able to find a Scripture reference to glue guns.)
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. ~ Amazing Grace, John Newton (1779)