I wake at 6:25am as my coffee pot clicks on and begins concocting its marvelous brew. As the aroma drifts down the hall toward my bedroom I doze briefly before telling myself, “Wake up! You need to pray before Jax bursts from his room. You know you need this.”
With a cup of magic in my hand I shuffle sleepily to the living room where my Bible and journal sit patiently on the coffee table. A well-worn couch welcomes this slow-to-wake body. I’m having a difficult time this morning forming coherent thoughts to my Maker, so I turn to a favorite passage in Colossians first, letting the words of truth wash over me…
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col. 2:6-7)
Not many words for God this day, just thankfulness to God for showing up, a few petitions, time in His loving arms.
It is 7:00am now and my half hour of tranquility gives way to an explosion of energy from down the hall! My 5 year old is up and ready to go. There are UNO games to be played, books to be read, lego creations waiting to take shape, songs to be sung, tears to be soothed and endless energy to be expended! Each day Jaxon invites me into his adventure and if I have eyes to see, I notice God’s invitation. The Creator invites me to create alongside Him: memories, learning, play, music, and laughter. I confess that I rarely jump into this adventure enthusiastically. Too often I’m annoyed by a little boy’s need to be with me so constantly. But when I do enter in, I rarely regret it.
When my teenagers were small I remember reading them a book which we seem to have misplaced along the way. However, the author’s succinct description of what it means to be made in God’s image is etched in my memory: “Being made in the image of God means you can think, feel, imagine, and create.” We love creating because we were birthed by a God who loves to create and He put His indelible mark on us in this way. Whether through projects or buildings, music or poetry, baking or art, gardens or to-do lists, all are expressions of God’s image firmly imprinted on us, His beloved created ones.
Last week a picture book by Max Lucado inspired me to write a song. The simple words of the chorus are God’s words to his children: “You are mine, that’s why you matter to me.” I sat down at the piano and as the melody came to me I experienced God’s creative joy! This week I’m missing my mom who I lost to cancer over 6 years ago; grief has lingered since Mother’s Day. This song is holding on to me. God keeps singing it, if only I take the time to listen.
As I walk with a friend I talk about the grief that swooped down and derailed me the day before Mother’s Day. We share the hard stuff and there is room for tears. We are able to laugh at the struggles we have in common and we can celebrate each other’s different strengths. This walk, these conversations, they are rich and vital for me.
God has also imprinted us with a need for relationship. Just as creation was birthed out of a Divine relationship (ie. Father, Son and Spirit who have always been), we too need relationships to thrive as creative beings. This is why both beginning my day in God’s quiet presence and walks with friends have become integral to my well-being during this season of isolation. When I look up the word ‘isolation’ in the thesaurus some words appear that are somewhat alarming when considering societal mental health: desolation, remoteness, detachment, and exile, to name a few. We as the people of God embrace a different story, one that invites us to be in relationship with each other and to reach out beyond ourselves to those who might be especially vulnerable to loneliness at this time. All of God’s created ones long for relationship; we bear His image profoundly in this desire.
On days when I’m especially lonely, I admit to mindlessly searching the internet for ideas or affirmation. The poet Malcom Guite asserts that we “surf the surface of a wide-screen world and find no virtue in the virtual” and this strikes a deep chord within me. If I’m listening in these moments, God pulls my loneliness under the banner of His love, and reminds me that He felt lonely when He walked the earth too.
Sometimes dinner preparation makes me stressed and resentful as I try to pull something together with Jaxon vying for my attention. But there are times when I embrace the process of chopping and seasoning, sometimes following the recipe, at times using creative license. Tasting one of my mom’s recipes, memories of her standing at the stove, scooping it generously onto our plates with her constant chatter and laughter, brings a fresh wave of grief. I welcome the bitter and the sweet of this. She created a home of openness and love for her four children and husband, and then later for her children’s children. As I serve this meal to my family I seek to recreate, at least in part, this type of home. At the table we share moments from our day we are thankful for and moments that were difficult. I pray we are creating for our children a table of welcome as my mom did for us.
Bed-time routines with Jaxon bring more stories, more play, Bible reading, and prayers. I sing a blessing over him; words from scripture that I put to a melody many years ago. (This was way before Elevation Worship came up with one, though I admit their version is better!) “May the Lord bless you. May the Lord keep you. May the Lord cause His face to shine on you. And may He give you peace.” Jaxon eventually drifts off to sleep and the remainder of the day is most often a time of rest. We may read or play board games with our teens, watch a movie, drink a cup of tea. Another day ends and I go to sleep knowing tomorrow will be another day to step into the blessing of being made in the image of God; I am made to love, I am made to create. I know that I will do this imperfectly but I also know that He can use my brokenness and do beautiful things with it.
You are made in the image of God. If you don’t imagine yourself to be a ‘creative’ person, I urge you to reconsider. Was there not something in the past week that you helped bring into being? Did you not develop an idea, write a thoughtful letter or email, initiate a plan, generate a new project, work in your garden, or take joy in being productive? We are all wonderfully and diversely creative!
As God’s image bearers we create best in relationship: with our Creator and with others. May we as the people of God do all we can to cultivate and nourish those essential relationships. Each one of us is a unique expression of the Creator, so let us offer our unique creative abilities quietly or exuberantly, however we do it best.
May we live courageously as bearers of God’s unique indelible imprint; made to love and to create.