I recently read Emily P. Freeman’s book A Million Little Ways.* It’s about how we were all born to make art, how we are all artists who bear the image of God. It was great timing for me, this book is just what I needed in this season of life and work. I wanted to share a section of it with you that encouraged me this week. I think it will encourage you too.
On Monday I was struggling with the state of the world and all that’s going on. I got lost in online news and found myself feeling depressed.
On Tuesday, I attempted to create some order in my life by cleaning off my desk. Although I finished A Million Little Ways a few weeks ago, it was still in a pile near my computer. I opened it again and flipped through pages to read the sections I had underlined. (I always underline and write in my books. Do you?) I found words that filled my heart with hope.
She quotes Henri Nouwen from his book Here and Now.* He says:
“The more I think about the human suffering in our world and my desire to offer a healing response, the more I realize how crucial it is not to allow myself to become paralyzed by feelings of impotence and guilt. More important than ever is to be very faithful to my vocation and to do well the few things I am called to do and hold on to the joy and peace they bring me. I must resist the temptation to let the forces of darkness pull me into despair and make me one more of their many victims.”
Emily goes on to say, “What Nouwen says here is critical if we want to see the relevance of living our lives as artists—he says in the face of human suffering and heartbreak it is more important than ever to be faithful to our vocation and our art. In the presence of heartbreak, it is more important than ever to be who we uniquely are, bearing the image of God in the world.”
Instead of holding back and hiding, let’s show up in the world. We need to shine our lights brightly wherever God has called us: from our kitchen tables to our churches, from grocery store lines to Zoom rooms, and everywhere in between. Wherever we go, the presence of God goes with us.
We can choose to become victims of darkness and despair, as Nouwen states. Or we can faithfully do what God has called us to do. We can keep the faith and share it with others. It is more important than ever.
So dear friend, keep going. You make a difference in this world in a million little ways and we need what you have to offer. I’m cheering for you!