Creating Bravely

My dear friend Claire proposed we have a creative day - go to Nashville, sit in coffee shops, and create and rest and do the things that give us life. And so, equipped with snacks and a trashy playlist for the car ride, we embarked. I hadn’t taken intentional time to create in a while, but when we planted ourselves first in Crema (coffee shop one of three), words and ideas started flowing, and I realized I had stories I wanted to tell.

It’s all an “early-twenties thing,” as I’ve come to call it.

The figuring-out-life, wandering slightly aimlessly, carrying a passionate heart with shallow pockets and a crumpled map. It’s this glorious and miserable post-graduate adventure, exceptionally prominent to those of us who emerged with degrees but not with life theoretically “together” (idyllically married, dream job, stability and the like). I have settled into this season of grey with a degree of peace and contentment and grace for myself, which ebbs and flows as my humanity would have it. And I have leaned in to embrace the messiness of this season - of first jobs, of moving houses, of wild hair, of the year Taylor Swift wrote a song about.

When I moved to Lexington in September of 2016, I had truly spectacular plans for myself. I had two part-time jobs lined up that I would enjoy enough, and would give me the freedom to pursue another job - a too-good-to-be-true opportunity, though unpaid. Unsurprisingly, my three-job ideal unraveled to burnout and desperate grasps at purpose in an array of positions and titles that sounded nice, but ultimately didn’t fit.

It's been almost one year since my move, and seven months since everything got flipped. I recall sitting in my car, crying amidst unexpected transition and the loss of what I thought was a dream, what I primarily came to Lexington for. In the month that followed I would step away from my other two jobs in favor of something I am, in fact, exceptionally well-suited for, in a way that I could never have planned.

The encouragement I was given at the turn of it all, at what I originally perceived as failure, was that this was my opportunity to learn how to use my creativity for me - as a pure expression, as a practice, as an extension of myself - before I used it for anyone else.

This being said, I’ve spent a lot of time mourning it all - what I thought Lexington would be for me, what I thought my post-grad life would look like. Since last May, I’ve stared at a lot of blank Word documents in a big transformative post-grad mess. It has all brought me exactly where I need to be, but it has made me unwilling to put down words. My creativity has felt suffocated with anxiety and an overwhelmed apathy. But in all my distraction and fear and unnecessary busyness, it has been in the stillness I find curled up in bed, mildly weary, that I continually find a quiet voice reminding me I was made to tell stories, and that I should do that.

Creativity, I continue to believe, is an expression of bravery. Of courage. To pour out part of your wild brain onto a page or design or painting and let it be beautifully imperfect and inspiring all the while. It is a discipline as much as a retreat. And I find in my difficult and muddled seasons that it is an intentional declaration of my confidence, or a conscious rebellion against my fears. It is precisely this that my soul groans against when I have run myself dry. It is when I lie in bed, mind half-numbed, eating pizza and rewatching Friends season five, and so contented in my laziness, that the Spirit urges me to the truest rest, found in doing what I was created to do.

But it is so much more difficult, more risky, more vulnerable.

The Father knows me in this: my restless ache to do something purposeful, juxtaposed with my fearful escapes. And in this, he so sweetly calls me to be still. To stop running. Stop scheduling. Turn off Netflix and my phone. And when I haven’t been the best listener, He strands me at my half-emptied home (we were moving) without a working vehicle, with no option but to

just. sit. still.

(I have the car situation figured out now. It’s a good story. He is good.)

Reluctantly, I love those days. The days to seek rest and joy; to read a beautiful magazine and remember my passions and find my ambition. I love getting to come back to all that I love and all that I was created to do - as trivial as my desires to be the best plant mom, to the deepest parts of my heart that were meant to assemble words in a way that (hopefully) inspires. And I love days like Nashville - when I overdose on coffee and laugh and cry and pour my messy heart on a page in boldness, in declaring that this is what I’m good at, and I’m going to chase it despite the fear.

Ultimately, I’m writing this to tangibly vow to keep creating, to pursue a new season of freedom, to come back to who I’m made to be. There has been such difficulty and joy in rediscovering it all, but I can’t help but smile at the way the Father calls us home.