Photograph by Annie Spratt
You can use your creativity to spread kindness to others.
Don’t know what I mean? Read on:
People tend to let their creativity slip away. Because with the mess of obligations we all juggle on a daily basis, taking time to explore your creative side seems like an indulgence.
It’s not a “must do”. Sometimes there are no tangible benefits. So creativity gets placed on the back burner, and then removed entirely.
But often, our creativity doesn’t just benefit us. Sometimes, without us even knowing it, our creativity is a huge blessing to others that has the ability to turn their whole day around.
Let me tell you what I mean:
Last Monday, I was weary in body and weary in soul. We all have those days or weeks where we are burned out: we’ve been working so hard and trying to draw water from an empty pot, and finally, we’ve come up empty. Monday was one of those days for me.
My husband wisely saw this and lovingly suggested I take myself on a walk. He would take care of the dishes and putting Little Monster to bed so I could have some much-needed solitude.
If this doesn’t sound all that fun to you, let me tell you that long walks in general are one of my favorite things. Solitary walks, however, are simply balm to my soul. Free to explore and notice the world, this time alone allows me to think through problems in my life, pray, make plans and goals, and even create. Many a song lyric or part of a story has come from these walks.
They used to be a daily necessity until I became a mom. (You see, I don’t count walks with Little Monster as solitary. Part of my brain is always thinking about him: getting to the park, the rest of our day, etc. It’s still fun, but my brain is not allowed to wander in the way I crave.) Now, I’ve probably had one of those walks since he’s been born. Until that Monday.
You see how badly I needed this.
But as I walked, I grew frustrated with myself. There was just so much clutter in my brain I couldn’t get through. I just kept rehearsing mundane lists and tasks in my life: obsessing over the very things I was trying to get a break from. I even started to feel guilty that I was wasting this gift Brandon had given me. That I was going to come home just as un-refreshed and uninspired as I was when I left home.
I thought if I couldn’t free my mind I might as well go home and get some of the things done that were preoccupying me. I started to head for home.
I passed by a home with a thick row of glorious peonies lining the yard. I stopped to sniff a delicate white bloom with the barest of fuchsia ribbons detailing the inside. Closing my eyes, I breathed in its heady scent.
“Take it with you.”
Startled, I looked up, but I didn’t see anyone. The voice encouraged again: “Take it with you!”
I saw the peony’s owner smiling at me through the screened in porch. I regained my composure enough to complement her beautiful garden. At her urging, I snapped off the glorious bloom, thanked her probably too many times, and went on my way.
As I bent my head to sniff again, I must confess my eyes stung with tiny tears for a moment. This spontaneous kindness was just the offering of beauty my weary soul needed.
Have you heard Martin Luther’s assertion that when we work, we are the fingertips of God?
He said that the milkmaids in the field were giving God’s love to the people who drank their milk, because they were providing for their needs. Their very hands were doing God’s work: they were the fingertips of God.
I was so overwhelmed in that moment because I felt that offering of God’s love in two ways: first from Brandon giving me the alone time this introspective introvert so badly needed, and then from the lady in the peony house, who probably had no idea how keenly her kindness was felt as she sat down for an evening chat.
Sometimes we put off our creativity because it feels selfish to us. It feels like a waste to take time from more “important” matters.
But as I walked in the waning sunlight, I thought: what if the lady in the peony house had never taken the time to plan, plant, and tend to her beautiful garden?
It certainly isn’t necessary. There are probably more “important” things to do than beautify your yard.
But if she hadn’t, not only would she not be enjoying her garden’s beautiful display, but she wouldn’t have been able to offer me that beautiful gift. And that simple gift recharged my soul. It turned my whole day around. Her creativity was the means by which she spread kindness.
Photograph by Olliss
Sometimes people’s creative efforts are the very ways we feel most loved.
I treasure the beautiful sewing my grandmother did in the months leading up to her death. She created until her hands no longer worked, because she wanted to leave something tangible her loved ones could remember her by.
You might feel silly about offering your creativity as a gift. You might feel insecure. But I guarantee you, unless your “giftee” is a thoughtless person, they are going to savor this outpouring of love from you.
Your job this week is to think of some way you can use your creativity to spread kindness.
As with everything we do in our summer of ABC’s, this can be elaborate or simple.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- If you are a Wordsmith:
- Write a kind note, or even a poem for someone in your life. Tell them what they mean to you or offer some words of encouragement. Send it through snail mail so they have something besides bills to discover in the mail.
- If you are a Visual Artist:
- Create a small drawing or painting for a loved one. Again, I think it would be so fun to get a one-of-a-kind drawing in the mail!
- Consider making this postcard-sized so this doesn’t take too long and you make sure you do it! Did you know that you can use the inexpensive postcard stamp with your own materials as long as it meets certain specifications? The US postal service will accept anything that is:
- At least 3-1/2 inches high x 5 inches long x 0.007 inch thick
- No more than 4-1/4 inches high x 6 inches long x 0.016 inches thick
- Sending these bite-sized samples of your work may even mean you can do many, and spread the love!
- If you’re a Gardener:
- Create and deliver a gorgeous bouquet to a neighbor, a sick friend, or your mom. Everyone loves fresh flowers, not everyone has room in their budget for them!
- If you’re a Musician:
- Make a point of going to jam with a friend who is lonely,
- Make a mix CD or playlist for your friend who just had a baby and doesn’t get out much,
- Or even go play at a nursing home. You won’t have a more appreciative audience.
These ideas only scratch the surface, of course. The only limit is your imagination.
I would love to hear what ideas you come up with! Take a moment to leave a comment below with your ideas of how to bless people with your creativity, even if you haven’t done it yet!
You can use your talents, your interests, and your enthusiasm to bless someone this week. Our God is the ultimate Creator, so when we use our creativity to bless others, we are being the fingertips of God in not one, but TWO ways.
Leave a comment below with your plan for what you’re going to do this week, and be sure to circle back and tell us how it went!
I can’t wait to hear from you.
If the fun of spreading kindness has got you recharged and you want more creativity in your life, visit the rest of the series here:
- A Summer of ABC’s
- ABC Week One: Training Ourselves to Have Fun Again!
- ABC Week Two: Mining Your Musical Memories
And for a discussion on why I think it is so vital to live a creative life, no matter who you are, click here.