During our time as a military family, we blew into a new town every three years or so. Anxious to wrap my babies (and myself) in some sense of normalcy, I would set up house lickety-split, or as quickly as I could. When my kids were little, success looked like unpacking a box or two a day or dangling a single picture frame on a nail. I was moving in a forward direction, so I considered it progress.
We are no longer an active duty military family, but just the same we recently moved to a 1970s split level house, a house undergoing construction.
Many of our belongings remain in boxes as the rooms that will hold them stand dredged in sawdust. Quirky realities of our life right now include my clothes hanging in my sons’ closet and my husband and I sharing a bathroom with our daughter. Speaking of our daughter, we’re also bunking in a corner of her bedroom. She recently informed us, with a tone drenched in dramatic flair, that she can’t wait to have her own room back. My husband and I looked at one another then looked at her and said, “The feeling is mutual, m’dear.”
These realities are more inconvenient than terrible, of course. Nevertheless, it’s clear we’re in a holding pattern of sorts, and at the tempo we’re moving, it’ll be awhile before we progress further.
One would think this means I have all the time in the world to employ my favorite kind of creativity: writing.
But when I sit down to do so, this is what happens: I tap my foot. I investigate the sawing/hammering noise outside. I decide to do a load of laundry. The electrician or plumbing inspector rings the door bell.
So do you know what I’ve discovered instead?
It’s hard for me to be creative when I’m neck deep in change.
Yes, I know during the calmest of seasons it’s easy to get distracted by laundry or Netflix when we need to buckle down to work. But this is something more. I’m not just looking for distractions so I can put off working.
On a heart and soul level, I’m too cluttered and overwhelmed to creatively unpack anything of great length or substance.
Does this ever happen to you? When you’re in a season of change or transition, does your typically easy kind of creativity turns sluggish and shy? Where maybe even making a decent dinner more elaborate than grilled cheese feels like climbing Pike’s Peak?
As I’ve processed this whole season, I’ve learned a couple things.
First, it turns out I’m still being creative after all.
However, what I’m being creative toward looks less like writing and more like helping my sons investigate scholarship opportunities and picking our bathroom’s paint color. It centers on my people and surroundings more than my writing.
Simply said, this season of creativity just looks different from the usual.
Second, when I’m under a season of change, I need to absorb encouragement in greater amounts. So I’m snuggled with a book more than hunched over my laptop. I’m getting together with friends for a few more coffee dates than my schedule typically affords. In one way or another, I’m intentionally putting myself in a place to take in inspiration and life-giving words.
There’s grace in accepting this season simply requires more filling up than pouring out.
If you’re like me and are experiencing a leaner time of creativity in one area because you’re pouring buckets of yourself into another, then relax and take a deep breath. That just means you’re neck-deep in life right now, and your future creativity will be all the more richly saturated for it.
The truth is I miss writing more often, I really do. If you also miss your favorite kind of creativity, may you and I both not despise our current season, whatever it looks like.
Instead may we be receptive of it, refusing to miss what’s right here because we’re pining away for what isn’t. May we hold the hand of hope knowing God will not waste this time. And when the path opens to our place of favorite creativity once again, may we dive deep into the energy and excitement of it all.