When was the last time you took a creative sojourn—time out just for you, to slow down and breathe or to create and enjoy being in the present moment? As a mom of two little ones, I know just how difficult it can be to draw aside from the busyness of life and find time to relax and de-stress, but I want to encourage you that doing so is important for your mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellbeing.
A couple of years ago, our family was going through a difficult season. My husband was struggling with severe depression and temporarily moved in with his folks to heal without the pressure of everyday family life weighing on him.
As a stay at home mom, I wasn’t working and suddenly neither was he. Understandably, he couldn’t cope with work and the pressure of providing for a family because of the state of his mental health. Our girls were four and two and the financial strain, emotional stress, and grief was overwhelming for me. I was left to cope on my own, taking care of our children and our household. Fortunately, we had an excellent support system through family, friends, our church, and Christian counselors. God was good to us, providing the right people at the right time to help us journey through a rough season.
During a counseling session, the counselor explained that my inner life was like a water tank and all the stressors pouring into my life would overwhelm and drown me if I didn’t have an outlet. She asked if I had any hobbies I enjoyed and didn’t have to twist my arm or tell me twice to commit to a half-hour of creativity each day. I was practically out the door and in the car before she could finish her sentence, reminding me I had permission to enjoy my life by pursuing my creative interests. I grabbed hold of that opportunity with both hands and ran with it. After one very satisfying visit to my local art supply store with a designer coloring book and a bounty of beautiful colored pens in hand, I was ready.
The lovely thing about this form of stress relief was that I could easily include our girls in my daily creative sojourn. We would put the kettle on and set the table with pretty teacups. They had their coloring book and I had mine. It didn’t require deep thinking and there was no pressure to create a masterpiece. I didn’t see this indulgence as escapism, rather, I saw it as a chance to breathe. It was quality time with my girls as well as being incredibly life-giving and healing for my soul in many ways. I would invite the Holy Spirit to be with us in those moments and He was always present. He was present in our conversation and He was present in our processing, our creating, our laughter, and often our tears.
Since my early thirties, I had always loved exploring my creativity, but from the moment my counselor encouraged me to use it as a way to de-stress, my creative outlet became more than just a hobby or pursuit. It became a way of connecting with God and with my family when life was uncertain, and our hope in His faithfulness was the only thing keeping us together.
This part of our journey ended well. After three months, my husband returned home, and with renewed confidence as a family, we began to heal. However, my creative sojourns continue to this day.
John 10:10 tells us that Jesus died to give us life to the full—the abundant life. In my own journey, engaging in creativity has allowed me to better connect with this promise and I believe it can help you to do the same. Beautiful one, each one of us is made in God’s image and this means you are creative in your own unique way. Your creativity doesn’t have to be impressive or profound but I believe it is His gift to you in order that you may fully enjoy the life He created for you. With the gifts and passions He has given you, you can enjoy creating with Him and for Him. These moments can provide an intimate joy-filled reminder of the presence of God, the ultimate Creator.
Pursuing a creative outlet is also a beautiful way to connect with other women. Last year, I wanted to reach out to some of the other moms from my children’s school, so I invited them for morning tea and a coloring session in my home. That gathering resulted in friendships that I continue to enjoy to this day.
Can I encourage you to use your creativity to bless others and invite them into your life? Getting together with friends to plan and create a meal for a family in need or putting together a gift basket for someone, is also a creative way to connect. I’ve found that when the hands are busy, the heart is open and I can enjoy fellowship in a real and authentic way. Having a creative purpose for coming together also alleviates some of the social awkwardness that new friendships often have to navigate.
Through that difficult time in our family, I have grown in my creative ability and have since discovered a variety of practices that have breathed fresh life into my personal Bible study and prayer time.
My question for you is: just how will you engage with your creativity and make time for your health and well being?
You don’t have to be in a season of distress to try your hand at something new. However, if you are going through a difficult season, your creativity and spirituality are important keys to transforming your inward life. Invite the Lord to walk with you as you explore His gift of creativity. Let Him strengthen your life from the inside out so you can flourish no matter what’s happening around you.
There are so many ways you can engage with and pursue your God-given creativity. If you haven’t already, consider this message your permission to start to do just that.
Please don’t aim for perfection. Just aim to de-stress, play, and have fun with your creativity. See your creative outlet as an enjoyable part of the journey through life and as a way of drawing you closer to God and others. You have nothing to prove, but much enjoyment to gain, so step out of your comfort zone if you must, be brave, and find a creative interest that brings you delight in every season of life.
If you are not sure how to get started, or if you don’t have the money or the freedom to go to a creative workshop in your local area, there are many beautiful and inspiring tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube that can help.
Start simply, like I did, with a beautiful coloring book that inspires you and some colored pens.
Try your hand at gardening or flower arranging.
Explore the art of cake decorating.
Make a card for a friend.
Take a walk in nature and photograph some of its hidden treasures.
Try painting with watercolors—because you don’t always have control of the outcome, you learn how to let go and go with the flow.
Journaling is also a creative way to process stress and anxious thoughts.
Meditate on the Word through the practice of Lectio Divina (a contemplative method of reading the Scriptures).
Discover the art of “Praying in Color,” a book by Sybil Macbeth which unpacks simple ways of incorporating creativity into your spiritual life.
Encourage other women by sharing this post.