What happens when life and responsibility calls us away from our creative vocations? When there are not enough hours in the day to complete the tasks at hand let alone leave space for inspiration and creativity?
Right now, my little family is in a season of upheaval and change. So much is shifting around us and within us that I know writing must take a backseat. I may have moments when I can pen my thoughts – like now, when my boys are asleep and I’m mustering the last droplets of energy to express what God has been teaching me this week – but otherwise, big changes essentially mean I am distracted from writing. But these “distractions” also have a mighty purpose.
There is a purpose behind what is happening right now. Why our house is in disarray while we’re working to shift our family somewhere new. There is a purpose in the process, in all the little moments that make up this journey God is leading us on, to watch His fingerprints across the pages of our lives. And sometimes that means I won’t get words down on the blank page because I’m busy doing something else, for His glory and for our good.
However, as any writer or creative knows, there is a grief that accompanies not practicing our craft. We were created very specifically to follow our God-given vocation and when the circumstances of life take us away from that, even if it’s for a brief season, we must wrestle with it and constantly choose what we believe God is leading us to for this season.
Blessedly, in this season where words aren’t flowing as they used to and projects are taking longer to approach and execute, the Lord has led me to the book of Nehemiah. Here, in this unassuming part of the Old Testament, I discovered a historical kindred spirit.
Moreover Jehoiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Old Gate; they laid its beams and hung its doors, with its bolts and bars. And next to them Melatiah the Gibeonite, Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and Mizpah, repaired the residence of the governor of the region beyond the River. Next to him Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs. Also next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, made repairs; and they fortified Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall.NEHEMIAH 3:6-8
I had to read over this section a few times and I just couldn’t move past it for the rest of the morning. My attention was seized by the fact that Hananiah, one of the perfumers, was busy repairing the ruins of Jerusalem. Evidently, a perfume-maker or apothecary was responsible for the holy anointing oils and incense used for worship. The only thing is, this perfume-maker, Hananiah, wasn’t using his God-given gifts and calling to create beautiful aromas to evoke a spirit of worship. No, he was rebuilding a gate.
I can imagine his hands probably weren’t accustomed to hard labour. He may not have had the right tools and the work likely took him away and “distracted” him from his ministry and calling. But the rebuilding of Jerusalem was important and so he set his calling aside for a season to do a new kind of work for the Lord.
The art of rebuilding – or renovating – is part of our daily lives right now and sometimes that means I don’t write as much as I would like. I also can’t commit my mind to story as well as I could before, as my baby brain literally steals thoughts from my mind and I forget to do the simplest things, let alone fix plot holes.
But it’s only a season.
And just like Hananiah would have returned to perfume-making once the work was complete, there will be a season where we will write again, even if circumstances are currently pulling us in a different direction.
And that’s okay. Because what we’re doing right now, in this season, is still important.
Heavenly Father, please help me to embrace the season You are calling me to right now. And when the timing is right, please provide the inspiration I need to write. All for Your glory and our good, in the precious name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.