Whenever Ed Cyzeswki talks about creativity, I listen up. His short book on creativity played a key part in shaping my thinking on creativity and Christianity, and at £0.77 is well worth investing in. He studied to be a pastor and is now a writer, and the author of several books. It’s great to have him here:
As virtuous as that career choice sounded at the time, I can only describe the personal struggles that followed as “shutting down.” I struggled with my confidence, I couldn’t share my faith, and I worried about the future.
While working at a church, I tried to attend conferences and to talk about ministry with pastors, but nothing ever felt right. I felt like a complete imposter. I kept trying to push through.
When we moved to Vermont and I left my church job, I spent two years floundering before I began to finally entertain an idea: “What if I’m not cut out to be a pastor?”
Left with no other identity for myself, I began asking God some hard questions like this: “What now?”
Like most Christians, I believed God had given me gifts that he could use. My problem was that I had pastoral gifts, but I didn’t fit into leadership or pastoral ministry in any way.
Left with only a blog and a book deal in the works, I began to entertain the possibility that I could be a writer. I even attended a small writing conference in Vermont.
While chatting among a room full of writers and wanna-be writers who hadn’t yet made the commitment, I found everything I’d been looking for: an identity that displaced all of my fear and insecurity.
I started to believe that God may actually have a calling on my life to write.
It wasn’t that I had doubts about my ability to write. I just flat out never considered it. When you grow up in the Christian subculture where a man’s ability to provide for his family is what makes him desirable, you just can’t consider a topsy turvy career as a writer.
And so in my late twenties, I finally started to believe that God had called me to write.
While writers are always insecure about their writing, I stopped feeling out of place. I knew that I belonged as a creative writer. I could talk about my craft with other writers, knowing that we fought the same demons and channeled the same angels.
When I write, I can sense that I’m doing the one thing I was made to do. Whether I’ve searched high and low for words to jostle into each sentence fragment or I’m tapping out 1,000 words in an hour, I often feel the affirmation of God in my writing.
Once I ran out of options for a career, I started to believe that God made me to do the one thing I wouldn’t even let myself consider. Dead ends have a way of pointing us to God.
Some days my writing work doesn’t feel all that holy. I’m just cranking out a pile of blog posts for a client. Other days I’m writing about some of the most pressing questions I hear from Christians, and I can sense the joy of God.
I don’t see writing or creative work as something that is always consciously done as worship. The worship of writing is quite different from the worship I do on Sundays. Once I accepted that my creative abilities have been given as a gift from God, the best thing I can do during the work day is to use them well.
Without overselling the joy or underestimating the drudgery, writing is the plot of land that God has sent me to cultivate.
I have frustrating days.
I hit walls.
I wonder if I’ll think of something clever to write.
A calling from God sends us into more conflict, not less.
God doesn’t promise us smooth sailing as disciples, and that has been especially true as a creative writer.
Some days I enjoy the hard work of creating, but the difference for me doesn’t necessarily come from the process. Any job you do will be hard work, breaking up hard soil and hauling out the unyielding rocks.
A bad day as a writer does not negate my calling.
The difference for my creative calling comes from the joy that follows a day of hauling rocks and breaking up soil. It doesn’t feel endless or useless. There is delight in creating clarity for a client or communicating important ideas in one of my books.
We all have to break soil and haul rocks, and I’ve found that my creative calling as a writer is where I feel called to break up soil and haul rocks. Some days the work is enjoyable, but the results are often where I find the greatest difference.
A good day of writing sends me back to God, thanking him for his calling on my life and for helping me find it and use it.
I don’t believe that God owes us joy or personal fulfillment. However, God has clearly gifted us with special talents and skills that bring fulfillment and lead us to worship when we use them. This joy is not easily won, and that is part of the delight.
Ed Cyzewski is the author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life, Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity and several forthcoming books, including: Unfollowers: The Doubters, Detractors, and Dropouts Who Didn’t Follow Jesus (with Derek Cooper) and The Good News of Revelation (with LarryHelyer).
Over to you:
- Have you ever felt like you were strongly called to something, that something just ‘fit’ you?