I quit writing yesterday. Quit. Put down the pen and said, “No more.”
Today, I’ve extended that deadline a bit. Why? Well, partly because of something I read last night and mostly because of something my daddy has told me time and again throughout the course of his preaching life.
“Elaine, I want to leave the ministry on Saturday nights before I preach. I re-enter the ministry every Sunday at noon.”
I get what my daddy’s saying. I feel the tension in my own life every time I’m asked to speak at an event and even, sometimes, when I’m writing a post. There’s something about the “front side” of creativity that stretches the soul, usually for the good, but sometimes so far stretched to not only “let out” the good, but also to “let in” the bad. The corrosive stuff that says, “Who are you kidding? You’re less than what you think you are. In the midst of the millions of words that will be written today . . . spoken today, yours won’t matter.”
That’s the stuff that stretches my soul and that threatens the livelihood of all “creatives” who risk sharing their work with others. Sometimes what we create—the songs we sing, the pictures we take, the words we write, the sermons we preach—is lost on our audiences. They don’t get it, and when they don’t get it (or at least when we think that they don’t get it), we struggle for understanding as well. And sometimes, that struggle is enough to make us want to quit. The anguish of our Saturday evenings (the night before we “launch”) stretches our faith and challenges our fortitude.
The front side of creative release is always the hardest side for me—doing the work, grinding it out, being disciplined enough and brave enough to put some words on paper and to do so against the backdrop of my faith. The backside of my creativity? The Sunday at noon? Well, more often than not, that’s the time when I willingly re-enter the ministry—when I draw the pen from my pocket, click it to “go,” and say to myself, “That wasn’t so bad. Let’s do it again. There just might be something to all of this.”
I don’t know where you are today. Maybe you’re living in the stress of your Saturday night—a time of preparation and feeling the strain of your creative pulse. You’re ready to launch, but your nerves and fear are getting the best of you.
Maybe you’ve arrived at your Sunday noon. You’ve delivered the goods and now you’re breathing in the beauty of the release. What you set your mind and heart to do has been done, and it’s been done well.
Maybe . . . you’re somewhere in between, maybe living your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday—the days when nothing seems to be happening. Your creative life feels dull, desperate, and dead. Saturday and Sunday aren’t even on your radar because you’ve decided that Saturday’s angst and Sunday’s release are no longer worth the effort. All has not gone according to your plans, so why bother making any further ones?
I understand. All of it. Every single creative and non-creative day of the week. I’ve lived them all; celebrated most of them, cursed a few of them, and still carry a heavy question in my heart about how I’m going to walk through my remaining ones. I don’t know where my writing will take me in the days ahead. There have been some huge disappointments I’ve experienced along the way. I imagine you could say the same about your creativity. Still and yet, I know this as a certainty:
God has planted his creative pulse inside each one of us. You are not the one person who’s been denied this sacred endowment. Your creativity, my creativity, is a gift that should be invested into the soul of humanity—not wasted, not hoarded, not buried. It’s how we help to make this world complete, how we put God’s finishing touches on what he began in Eden. When we pick up the pen, the paintbrush, the guitar, the camera . . . whatever our creative edges . . . when we tend to them and give them room enough to grow and breathe, we grow and breathe as well. We become willing participants in our Mondays thru Saturdays, because we know that Sunday noon is not far in coming.
I want my Sunday noon. I want you to have yours as well, for all of us to get to the other side of the birthing process—to labor hard and to willingly carry the burden of our creativity through to the finish—so that we might see and feel the beauty of a new work. A new grace. A new creation to flourish inside an older one. A new day, a “Sunday,” to rest and to believe, again, in the goodness and rightness of such moments.
Yes, I quit writing yesterday. Today, I picked up the pen once more, and even though my calendar says “Wednesday,” it feels a whole lot more like Sunday noon to me. As always…
Peace for the journey,
Monday – Friday deliberations? Saturday angst? Sunday noon? Where is your creative pulse resting today? How are you feeling about your creativity?