At a certain point in our lives, we were told that creating isn’t practical, efficient, or responsible. We need to get the laundry done, cook dinner, clean the house, pick up after the kids, work long hours, pay the bills, and tackle a thousand other responsibilities. Who has the time to be creative? – Ed Cyzewski in Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity
I don’t know where I learned this idea. Maybe it was from watching my father feel so responsible to provide for our family. Maybe it was the subtle messages about “real jobs” and “financial security” that I heard from classmates in college and in the debt-free craze that seems to be so central in Christian circles today. Maybe it’s just – as Ed describes it – part of the American Christian culture, this work ethic that says being financially stable is the most important thing. I don’t know. I obviously don’t live with that as a ultimate goal, but boy, do those voices eat away at my spirit many days.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with providing for our families or being debt-free. Those are great things, in fact, but if those goals take us away from our calling . . . I don’t know. I wonder if they are misguided sometimes.
Or maybe it’s that our standards of stability and financial security are too high. Maybe if we were content to live with less, content to trust for the money for our next bill and our retirement and our kids’ tuition, maybe then we could have financial security, be debt-free, and also live into our passions.
Or maybe I’m just trying to figure this all out because I’m living my dream, and yet, these voices – the ones that say making money is more important than pursuing vocation or being true to the vision I have for God’s Whisper – they are screaming at me today.
I don’t know the answer for other people. Some of us need financial stability more than others, perhaps. Some of us need creative life less, perhaps. For me, though, here’s where I am.
I’m cutting back again. I’m looking for the things I can sell and the luxuries – like a lot of data on my internet provider – that I can do without. I can sell more books that I can check out of the library to read, and I can watch less TV while I crochet. I can make more Christmas presents and enjoy the creativity of that process. I can do more with less, to quote a great Mennonite maxim.
Do I hope to have more income soon? Of course. I’d love to have several books to edit and lots of students to teach. I’d love to have orders for crocheted animals to carry me through the year and find people who will buy the braided rugs I’m going to make come January. And those things will come; they always do.
But right now, on this winter morning when the sun is coming through the farmhouse windows like blessing, I cannot imagine being anywhere else, doing anything else. This is the life I am called to live . . . to live it well, I have to trust this place, where I am learning that sometimes financial security is not the security I need.
How do you balance financial responsibility and security with your creative calling?
I’m just getting into the meat of Ed Cyzewski’s great new book Creating Space that I quoted above. I hope you will pick up a copy and hear Ed’s words about how our creativity is not a mistake.