To enjoy creative pursuits is to experience rest for our souls. How can we rest without comparing ourselves to others?
When I was growing up, our family would sometimes go out for pizza. It didn’t happen often, but whenever we went, my mom would always order a combination pizza to “make sure we get our veggies and protein”.
We didn’t know about saturated fat back then. Our pizza would arrive at our table loaded up with sausage, pepperoni, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives and everything else. The works.
It was so ridiculously heaped with the kitchen sink, most of my slice of pie would end up on the plate, with the cheese dragging everything down with it. I’d be left with an empty piece of crust and end up eating pizza toppings with fork in hand.
Not the ideal pizza lover’s experience.
When I’m craving to get creative, I keep this picture in mind.
I can get so frantic trying to create whatever wonderful-awesome-great experience, I become vulnerable to one of the biggest rest killers: comparing myself to others.
When we compare ourselves to others, we heap on so much unrest, our souls cave in.
We stop enjoying creative endeavors.
We resign to just doing maintenance.
When Rest Comes
Lack of rest isn’t tied to the amount of time we are spending or the type of activity we’re engaged in.
I once sat frozen solid in a watercolor workshop, stressed to the max because I couldn’t stop glancing at my neighbor’s Monet in the making. I finally managed to dip my brush on a pallet of colors and pulled back in horror as the droplets of paint dripped across my canvas before I could apply a single stroke.
Rest comes when we are free to get lost in the doing because we trust that God is producing fruit in our being.
One of the thrills of creative endeavors is getting lost in the process and ending up with something new. We need to show up and put in the effort, but we can’t force creativity to happen.
As a writer, I am constantly faced with the question: will my words bring beauty or value?
When I compare myself (negatively) to others, it never leads me to anything restful. It may look good on the outside but inside, I know it was beaten out of me, out of fear that I am not enough.
When we compare ourselves with others, we close the door to rest and return to the stress of producing rather than exploring.
A Gift In Times of Drought
Last weekend, I took a brief hike into the mountains for my whitespace, something I do regularly to create some soul space. I have been working on a writing project, relentlessly dogged by a critical voice.
As I found a quiet spot to sit down, journal and reflect, I became inspired by Jeremiah 17:7-9 —
“Blessed is the man (woman) who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is the Lord.
He will be like a tree planted by the water…
It will not fear when the heat (of comparison) comes;
… It will not be anxious
in the year of drought (a dry spell of creativity)
Nor cease to bear fruit.”
I spent the rest of the hike inspired by that promise.
As long as I am confident God made me for creative rest, He will bring internal, soul fruit out of it.
Even if I suffer a drought, I decided I will write simply because I was created for the pleasure.
Creativity is a God-given gift embedded in each of us. Rest springs out of enjoying this gift, not what we can accomplish through it.
I eventually grew up to learn about pizzas that are celebrated with such simple toppings as marina sauce, cheese and basil. They are deliciously packed with pleasure, without much fanfare.
Still, it’s hard to order a Hawaiian pizza plain with just pineapple and ham. I like adding black olives and pepperoni. After all, I want to make sure I eat a well balanced meal.
Since I kicked off a new series on rest, I wanted to share today’s post early on. Let’s give ourselves permission to enjoy this adventure of rest, without the weight of comparison but with the grace of encouragement.
Is there a creative activity or outlet you enjoy — or would like to try — but feel soul-tied by critical voices?
How do you rest from comparing yourself (negatively) to others?
*NEW FOR MARCH!* We’re exploring a new series — Whitespace: Restoring Rest. Check out our topic for today and next week’s!
*** NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN — FAITH BARISTA JAM! ***
Faith Barista Jam Thursdays — I serve up a topic of faith, you write the post. Let’s encourage each other. Add your voice. Swap our stories.
This Thursday’s Topic 3/3: Rest
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Next Thursday’s Topic 3/10:
Pick one: Share your craving and journey for rest in creativity, community or adventure.
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Photo Courtesy of jcolman under Creative Common License.