My mom and my aunt tell a story that I love. It is a story about me that I don’t remember, but just hearing it makes me happy, and I can almost picture it in my head. It goes something like this…
“When Emily was a little girl, she loved to draw and paint. And she could do the most amazing thing! Sitting around a table, we would ask her to draw something specific for visiting friends – a house with trees in the yard, a sun in the sky, and two children playing in the grass. We would hand her the paper and crayons, and she would begin to draw. As she started to draw, we would stop her and say – Emily, draw it so they can see what it is, please! She would nod, brows scrunched together with intention, turn the paper so it was right-side up for the guests watching, and draw upside down a perfect scene, exactly as requested, but all upside down to her. How smart she is! Quite the party trick!”
From as far back as I can remember, I loved to draw and paint, sing and dance, and write stories and plays. I would color all day long. I would sing along to record albums (think late 60s and early 70s), and learn the words to every song from The Sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz. I wrote and performed plays for my family, recruiting my brother and my friends to play various parts. I HAD to create. I HAD to express myself. I was created to create.
Over the years, my “expression” and “creativity” took some unwanted turns. They were rebellious, and obstinate, and prideful expressions of a “darker” me. My creativity was for me only. It was mine.
And then the creativity shut down completely. There were years when I didn’t create at all. I didn’t have the time, the energy, the inspiration…I was an empty vessel.
And then, out of the worst year, and the worst fear that I have ever experienced, a miracle occurred. This past year and a half, expression and creativity exploded in full force, unconstrained and completely restored. And all for God’s glory! I am now turning my paper around again, drawing upside down for an audience of only one – my Heavenly Father. He has quietly whispered in my heart that I need to take this journey. He is taking me out in the deep waters. My feet are unsteady. I feel like a 3 year old, in her mother’s heels for the first time, performing a neat party trick – excited, wobbly, anxious – but at the same time, I am becoming myself and I know it is good. He takes my hand and guides me with the tender strength that I know instinctively. The Father with his newborn daughter; He holds me close and there is only love.
The pain and messiness of my life fade in the distance as I walk further out across the gentle waves of the sea that stretches out before me. I know it is only the first few steps, but they feel so good! Like warm sand between my toes, the smell of salt water…I want to run toward the sun rising on the distant horizon, but His hand reaches across me, and He whispers, “Slowly and steadily. I will guide you. Listen for my voice. I will take you where you are meant to go.” My heart steadies, and in even cadence, my feet move, one in front of the other, out across the water. Here we go.
It is time for me to turn the paper around as I draw, for anyone who wants to watch. I am not drawing “just for me” any longer. And I want you to draw too! Or paint, or write! Or dance and sing! What is your form of expression? It is beautiful and pleasing to the Lord. I want you to join me on this journey. More to come…
Oh, visit the earth, ask her to join the dance! Deck her out in spring showers, fill the God-River with living water. Paint the wheat fields golden. Creation was made for this! Drench the plowed fields, soak the dirt clods With rainfall as harrow and rake bring her to blossom and fruit. Snow-crown the peaks with splendor, scatter rose petals down your paths, All through the wild meadows, rose petals. Set the hills to dancing, Dress the canyon walls with live sheep, a drape of flax across the valleys. Let them shout, and shout, and shout! Oh, oh, let them sing! Psalm 65:9-13