September 10, 2013

Fat over Lean: Becoming His Masterpiece


Usually, I don’t get into the pool until late summer, near the end of July or August, after the water warms. The water has been cold all the way into September this year, so I haven't been in the water much.

I hold my breath, shiver, watch the hair on my arms stand at attention as my skin erupts in goose bumps. Somebody at the pool always makes the exaggerated statement that the water is perfect----to "come on in." What they are really saying is that it doesn’t feel perfect at first, but you’ll get used to it. 

I feel the same way about wading into my creative life as a writer. I write here every week and I struggle to find my voice. Some call it writers block, I call it fear. 

I suppose there is much of life that is put off because sliding down the steps and toward the deep end involves discomfort. If you want to go swimming you need to jump on in and get wet.


Painting by Sarah Robertson
read Sarah's blog and see more of her work here
That's what I did when I began my parenting journey years ago. I hadn’t the slightest thought about having a baby. When the symptoms and the test, and then the baby bump, made the surreal notion of life growing inside me real, I didn’t over prepare for her arrival. I became a parent cannonball style, right off the diving board without ever letting even my big toe touch the water.

Sometimes I wonder if that was the best approach? Maybe if I had exerted more control, planned my parenting journey, I would have had a better handle on what I was doing? 

I mothered fat over lean. I see the picture completed, their lives now in those children grown up despite me. They are living breathing art, beautiful and complicated, not at all what I thought they might look like when I started laying down layers as their mother.

Often during the growing years, I backed off from what was right in front of me to look at the big picture. When I needed to, scraped back layers before they dried. I made a muddy mess of things, but I didn’t give up on them---or on me.

When it comes to my writing life, I feel it needs my attention. It is the child of my mid-life that needs an engaged parent.

I have been more likely to leave my words sitting unattended in yellow pads, ragged and forgotten, failing to thrive. They never become the layered work of creativity that they could be if I jumped on in and acknowledged their worth, was willing to let them grow over time, fat over lean.

We bought a new walnut baby bed when our first was coming. I laid all three of them down in that bed. I knew they needed to sleep. So much life happened in those rooms while they slept behind closed doors after prayers and kisses good night.

There have been times when I have about given up on having any kind of writing life. I love to write but I hate getting in the water. I approach writing timidly when I need to jump right in and get wet.

So I decided to make a nursery to write in, a place where I can close the door and lay my pen down to rest. Although I really don’t think it is the whole answer to my struggle, if I ever birth this writing life, I need a place to let it grow. 

I moved the treadmill out of a small room that was morphing into a closet. I began decorating my writing nursery, choosing a painting to set the theme of the room, a blue barn with curtains on the door. Out in front of the barn are tables covered with tablecloths, set and ready for a feast. The impressionist painting took shape from the hand of an artist creating with a palette knife. 

The painting speaks to me as an invitation to pull up to the table; a place is set for me.

There’s a place set for you too.

Our time on earth is the nursery until we sit at the table at The Feast. Everyday when we submit our lives to our Creator, He adds another layer to the painting of our lives.

You may not be a painter, or a parent, or a writer, but you have a calling that is uniquely yours. You were created to be you. The Master Creator is painting your life fat over lean. You may be feeling a little thin, like the picture of you doesn’t quite make sense. That’s okay because you’re a masterpiece still being created. God is not finished with you yet.

Remember, He sees the end from the beginning. You are in the process of sanctification. Beauty is your destiny.

I am not who I was at twenty, or thirty, or even forty. Even as I get older and my physical beauty fades, I know the Creator is still layering my life. It won't end until then... 

"And I am sure of this, 
that he who began a good work in {me} will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

Do you have a dedicated place where you nurture your creative life or where spend time with God with few distractions? Where do you fill up so you can pour out?

Linking with Jennifer at #TellHisStory and Emily at Imperfect Prose

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