April 13 – “Coping With Stress through Crayons, Carpentry, and Cooking”

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We are still in the season of Easter.

It is the season of resurrection and rebirth.

I hope you are finding some joy in these strange days.

My mother worked many years as a preschool teacher, so arts and crafts were a big thing when I was growing up.  We always had a supply of things like tempura paints and construction paper.  There were bottles of Elmer’s glue, safety scissors, and random boxes of crayons.  There were also things like cheap xylophones, bongo drums, and Mom’s auto-harp.  I very clearly remember the smell of Mom making more homemade play-dough in the kitchen.

During this time of rebirth, I hope you are taking the opportunity to revisit the arts and crafts of younger days.  It doesn’t have to be something to show to others, but all sorts of creative activities can help you cope with stress.

One of our great gifts is that we are made in the image of our God.  One of our main understandings of God is as the Creator.  Being made in God’s image, we also have that element of creativity.  We can understand God just a little better by taking part in the creation of something good.

Unfortunately, most of us are wounded when it comes to creativity.  Just as we were trying to learn how to sing, or draw, or cook, someone came along and said “You are no good at that” and we believed them.   Some people have some natural ability with music or other arts, but the main difference between good and bad is a question of practice… not talent.  If you can tell the difference between a picture you like and a picture you don’t like, you have the basic seed of what it is to be an artist.  It is said that you need to devote about 10,000 hours of practice at anything to master it, but just a few hours will give you enough ability to express yourself.

Among the “artsy” people I know, there are folks that spin yarn, people who weave and sew, potters, gardeners, carpenters, cooks, painters, photographers, and people into scrap booking.  You can write poetry, riddles, stories of your childhood, or simply journal about your day.  Or maybe there is a musical instrument in your house that you haven’t touched in years.  Well, there is no time like the present.  If your musical instrument is very loud, there are even places you can take it where no one will hear you.

Psalm 96 begins this way : “Sing to the Lord a new song;  sing to the Lord, all the earth.”  God gave us many things that can express our feelings and put us in touch with our “inner creator.”  Has it ever struck you how the first chapter of Genesis sounds like an artist at work?  God makes something and sees that it is good.  Strangely, even in a small kitchen, we can cook something and have a brief understanding of the feelings God must have felt.

So arts and crafts can help us cope and they can bring us closer to God.  And if you make something you don’t like, try again.

If you are one of those people who doesn’t feel creative, a “new song” might not be the place to start.  Find an old song you like… something simple that doesn’t take a lot of skill…. And sing it when you are alone.  It could be the theme to an old television show or “Jesus Love Me.”  And if you feel like singing a sad song, go ahead.  Strangely, singing sad songs can be very healing. And if you can’t sing… whistle, and if you can’t whistle… hum or tap with the beat.

Give yourself permission to write some bad poetry or doodle little boxes on a piece of paper.  God has given you muscles that you haven’t exercised in years, but they are still there.

So, solve a puzzle, weave a basket, learn a card trick, bake some bread, fix a toaster, organize your music files on your computer, or practice drawing rainbows.  Just be a creator who was made by the ultimate Creator.

As I wrote at the start of this, we are still in the season of Easter and it is the season of resurrection and rebirth.  The God who raised Jesus from the dead can easily bring back some of the joys of your own creativity.  Remember that the word “recreation” started out meaning “to create again.”

Stay healthy and welcome the joy God gives you!

Blessings,

Pastor Rick