Of Plodding and Honor

Using my gifts to their fullest for my Maker – it’s a thrilling goal, and an exciting journey, especially now that I am done with college classes and have more time to put into my favorite activities. It’s an incredible thing when I find that I’m doing what God made me to do! I love feeling like I’ve found my place in His plan. To craft every picture and story as unto the Lord, and looking to Him to see just what He wants me to do with them. (I’ve considered an art business of some sort for quite a while now.) It’s exciting!

Unfortunately, the nuts and the bolts of daily living that goal out is a lot harder than I would have suspected at first. For Pete’s sake, how hard can it be to do my favorite things as a way to serve God? He’s given me so many confirmations that my writing and art are what He wants me to use, and He’s given me inspirations as to ways to use them – why in the world would that be hard? It’s not like I don’t want to do it. Sheesh, I’m totally excited (especially with a recent purchase of real watercolor paint)! So why in the world am I failing to make much progress on the projects at hand?

I think sometimes it’s because I get so caught up in the big picture of what I want to produce that I get too overwhelmed to start – or if I’ve already started, to finish. When you have this mental image of something beautiful you want to create, it gets hard to put those first hideous-looking sketches down on paper. Those first paint strokes are oddly intimidating, just because it always feels like I don’t know what I’m doing with those colors until halfway through the picture.

Writing isn’t any better, in spite of the fact that I’ve been writing for fun for I-don’t-know-how-many years. Now that I have several nonfiction book ideas writing has taken on a whole new level of intimidation. Those little words and starter sentences elude me, and I stare at a half-blank notebook page. I know the idea I want to get at, but the how-to-get-there eludes me. So I stare some more.

But the worst problem of all is probably the real reason why I’m not as productive as I’d like to be. It’s a little time-eating monster named Procrastination, and he’s the naughtiest little critter I’ve ever met. He sidles up beside me and whines, “This is too haaaaaaaard, and you already feel awful. You’re not up to iiiiiiiiit. Do it later.” Especially recently with not-that-great health and some emotional overload, I’ve been bad and listened to Procrastination. It’s so much easier to just sit and not be productive anyway… The nastiest part about this beastie is that the more I listen to him the harder it is to ignore him the next time he comes and whines in my ear. It’s sort of a vicious cycle. The more I procrastinate, the bigger and harder the project looks because I start to feel behind and overloaded with things I haven’t done and need to do. I end up procrastinating doing things that shouldn’t take fifteen minutes even, and that’s pretty silly.

Looking around at my half-done projects, I have to wonder…what happened to using my gifts to their fullest extent for God’s glory? As far as I can see, my measly progress is barely even using them at all, much less using them to their fullest extent. And honestly, that’s not God glorifying either. If I’m serious about wanting to glorify God with my gifts then I’d better get serious about using them. In spite of the intimidation factor. In spite of how I’m feeling at the time. In spite of the procrastination monster.

That means sitting myself down and sketching those first horrible sketches and taking the time and effort needed to slowly refine them and make them the beautiful pictures I envision. That means testing my paint colors and then plunging in and painting in spite of not knowing what I’m doing. After all, I can always try again if it doesn’t work the way I thought. (And who knows, it might even turn out better than I expected. You never know.) That means sitting down and writing my way out of writer’s block. In spite of the terrible writing. I can always change it later anyways. (This is why people are not allowed to read my first drafts. 😉 ) It means grinding away at my projects bit by bit until all the little bits turn into big bits and the big bits turn into finished projects.

Serving God with my gifts sometimes means trudging through the dirty work to get to the exciting goal on the other side. It’s not just about the wonderful amazing big things. More importantly, it’s about faithfulness in the little things. Learning to say a little ‘no’ to Procrastination (and slap him on the head if need be) and get on with things despite him tugging at my sleeve. It’s about praying my way through a horrific manuscript and then praying a lot more through all the editing that has to come later. It’s about plunging in anyways, no matter how I feel at the moment. It doesn’t always look very exciting. But the end results are sure a lot more exciting than the results of listening to Procrastination. It’s not easy. But if I can’t honor God by faithfully plodding on through the little things, how can I ever say I want to honor Him with the big ones? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to spend my week painting and writing. *Grin*

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