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Today’s Truth

The heavens are yours, and the earth is yours; everything in the world is yours—you created it all.

(Psalm 89:11, NLT)

Friend to Friend

Do you give yourself permission to be purposeless? Unproductive? Playful? Creative? Or do you feel the pressure to make sure everything you do, spend, create, and grow has some greater meaning?

This has been one of the great struggles of my adult life. I grew up in a culture that was bent towards productivity, academic accolades, and financial success. Those values deeply shaped how I saw this world and myself.

When I came to know Jesus as my Savior in college, I let go of the try-hard life but adopted a warped mindset that “dying-to-self” also meant, “dying to everything fufu.” If it doesn’t have quantifiable impact for the kingdom, it must be a waste of time, right?

I became a workaholic for Christ on a mission to save the world. Can you relate? Yet God sets before us the example of both creativity and rest. He created the world in six days and declared each day’s work good (Genesis 1). On the seventh day He completely rested. Total. Utter. Rest. Can we say the same for ourselves?

We are made in the image of God – created beings knit together by the Creator – designed for both creativity and rest.

That “ah-ha” overwhelmed me as I was wandering through the studios in Asheville, North Carolina’s River District on a restful weekend away from work. As I took in each creator’s work, I saw the beauty of our Creator unfold, especially in the gallery of Molly Courcelle. In the secret corner of every piece, she penciled in a reference to a particular bible verse, inviting me to connect with God as I took in His creativity manifested in her.

The old tape playing in my head threatened to steal joy, so I turned to the Lord and listened to His still small voice: “I, the Lord Your God, am a creative God. I spun this world together through my creativity. I merely spoke, and the heavens were created. I breathed the word, and all the stars were born. I make everything beautiful, including you. I knit you together in your mother’s womb. I made you, in my image, to enjoy creativity for the sake of my glory and unadulterated joy.”

Whether we create with paint brushes or words or food or hospitality or science or math or medicine or law, the invitation is before us to enjoy the creativity of God in us. To make it our act of worship. To declare it good. And to pause and rest before we go back to creating again.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, may we let go of the try-hard life to relish in the joy of You, Your creation, and Your creativity in us. May we be content to do our work for a day and be satisfied with it, also declaring “it is good.” May we learn to rest well. May we discover that creativity is good even if it is only for pleasure and not yielding a quantifiable product. Help us, God, to be more like You, a creative and awesome God.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

How is God prompting you to turn from your try-hard life of productivity? Is it time to confess workaholism, even for the Kingdom, and allow space for rest and creativity in your life?

More from the Girlfriends

Elisa Pulliam is a coach, author, podcaster, speaker, and founder of More to Be. She is passionate about helping women pursue a fresh encounter God, experience His radical transforming love, and embrace deep connections with others. She is also the founder of It Is Well, where she helps women simplify the transition into wellness by cultivating a whole food and toxin-free lifestyle for themselves and their families. She is enjoying the adventure of being married to Stephen for 23 years and raising their brood of teenagers together. Connect with Elisa at MoretoBe.com and ItIsWell.us.

11 Responses to “Exchanging the Try-Hard Life for Creativity and Rest”

  1. Bernadette says:

    It feels good to just relax sometimes

  2. Robin says:

    I was stressing at upcoming Thanksgiving over making everyone happy, comfortable, excited and cleaning like crazy. Which is difficult for me since my stroke last year. When I over do I suffer with great pain. When I shared this with my husband he just looked at me and said “Honey, that is PRIDE and it doesn’t please God” when I ask “what?” He said “you are worrying about what others will think of YOU.” Well that didn’t make me smile at all. But it was true. Instead of being just Hospitable I was being a “Martha” instead of a “Mary”. Not knocking Martha for tending to her guest but I want to be a Mary and long for that which pleases Jesus.

  3. Chrystel says:

    Thank you for this affirmation! I recently realized I had it all wrong by thinking creative success was dependent on discipline, discipline, discipline. However, I have a problem focusing and could never master the strict discipline to create masterpieces. I am drawn to many different mediums and love to explore. When I realized I have attention deficit because that is the way God created me, my creative life changed for the better. Now instead of going to the studio determined to do one thing, I go with a “follow my muse”, or better put, follow where God’s Spirit leads. I have never had so much fun in the studio; although I am not creating masterpieces, I actually like what I am producing.

  4. Beth says:

    Boy, this is timely. God is definitely working with me. After a horrible year in a job that sucked the joy and intention out of my life God led me to my current position, which is such a blessing. I am a visual artist and I LOOOOVE creating. It’s always been an integral part of my life and is part of the continuum of what I call life and following the will of God. But this job had me so turned around that I didn’t make a single thing for over a year. My husband never really said anything because he knew that the job was taking everything out of me. Since I shook it loose I’ve been fighting what I think has to be a form of PTSD because it was a really, really difficult experience. I’m getting back into the studio and it’s scary because I’m reconnecting with some old friends- the paintings, the quilts, designing jewelry, etc. God is just SOOOOOOOOOOOO good…

  5. abby says:

    nope nothing just same thing dif day …no purpose and need for a productive/successful life. no like everyone ese who can actually work/drives/has a actual family (instead of just being hubby and I )

  6. Beth says:

    Lord Jesus, speak to my sister Abby’s heart. Impress upon her how much You love her. Help her to bring all of her thoughts captive and deliver them straight to you according to 2Cor 10:5. Lord, heal her heart, and bring her close to you, for You are close to the broken hearted. Thank You, Jesus. AMEN.

  7. Yes it does, Bernadette!

  8. Robin, what a blessing to have a husband to speak truth to you like that. Yes, I’ve found pride can motivate us in unhealthy ways and push us beyond what God wants for us to simply be and rest and serve from His directives and filling.

  9. Chrystel, thank you for sharing the lessons you are learning. Love it! And love that by following the Spirits leading, you’ve found delight in creating again!

  10. Beth, I’m so sorry for the experience you had that sounds like it really impacted you. I was just talking with someone who identified her previous work experience in the aftermath as feeling like PTSD too — so you are not alone. Maybe seeking counseling for the healing could be helpful as you continue to create and connect with your fellow creatives too?

  11. Abby, thank you for being honest and sharing where you are at. I’m so sorry for the sense of purposelessness. I am praying that God would reveal His purpose to you and lead you towards those who can help you find it — friends and even a counselor. May His hope fill you to overflowing and may joy mark your future deeply.

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8