Thursday, June 21, 2012
To Just keep working away
The Virgin Mary has long been one of my heroes of faith and I keep discovering fresh reasons why. Here are some I had already.
1) She believed God and kept hold of His promise.
2) However, she was just like the rest of us, in that she didn't always 'get' everything and her mental limitations and faux pas' were recorded for posterity.
Now here's another reason which should make every person with a creative bent nod. I want to make it clear from the start that I'd hate to offend anyone who may believe that comparing ourselves to someone like the Virgin Mary is a presumptuous and unacceptable thing to do. I'm coming from the point of view that God may give some people (like her) gifts like tsunamis and others (like us) gifts like tiny water drops, but it's the same Spirit who gives the gifts and cracked and humble pots may still have noble purposes.
Mary was approached by the Angel Gabriel who told her that God had a tremendous plan He wanted to unleash through her if only she would agree to cooperate with it. It was, incredibly, to send His own Son in human flesh to die for humanity and redeem many people. It would have been evident to Mary at the outset that this would involve a heavy cost to her. Her circle of friends and acquaintances would surely make the wrong assumptions and regard her in the most unflattering light. She'd be shunned and ignored at best and vilified and stoned at worst. Taking all of this into account, she still said, "Yes, yet it be done to me as you have said."
Now, although artists, writers, musicians and other creative people are poles apart from Mary, we do share the privilege of birthing new things which we like to consider our gifts to our world. I get ideas for books which are based on dreams and sudden thoughts. Although they aren't literary masterpieces, the characters all seem real to me and writing their stories seems like a great thing to do. I can't help hoping others will like them as much as I do. Some of the ideas I've worked on have caught hold of my imagination from the very outset. A young couple who are involved in a date rape end up with feelings for each other, an amnesia victim is hero, detective and possibly victim of his own story, a young man with an apparently fatal disease is prepared to believe something radically different. (These thing don't all happen within the one book). Do people jump on board and enjoy my books the way I hope they will? Answer: Some do but many more don't bother.
The bottom line here is that just because we think some idea of ours is awesome, it doesn't mean it will be to others. Just because we're told we have a 'gift', it may not be a 'gift' others are necessarily interested in.
How nice it would've been for Mary if Gabriel had gone around her town and let everyone in on the good news instead of just her and later, Joseph. She was only young and it would've made her life far easier if he'd been sent to announce the news to her parents, relatives and the other villagers. But he didn't. Her cousin, Elizabeth was clued up enough to latch on but not many others. As God didn't organise a big, general announcement on Mary's behalf for news as momentous as hers, it's setting ourselves up for disappointment to hope that He'll spread the word for us for the teeny-tiny ideas he's given us. The world, of course, is based on free will. He doesn't tend to force the hearts and minds of others to think, "This guy does brilliant art and I have to buy some," or "This musician's work is awesome so let's sell heaps of concert tickets for him," or in my case, "You might enjoy these stories." A lot of time, we get the feeling our world is mostly just us and whatever medium we use: canvas, saxophone, computer or whatever. We might even get the idea that people think we're pretty silly and have tickets on ourselves.
BUT that doesn't mean that we don't have gifts or that what we have is any less healing or nourishing for those who do respond to what we have to offer. Gauging our significance by how many people are giving us positive feedback or how many sales we're making has the potential to make us miserable since God's priority always seems to be obedience and steady work on quality, instead of getting all worked-up over quantity of visible results. In other words, He wants us to put everything into our passions for their own sakes. So I'm working flat out on what I believe to be my calling (because I enjoy it a lot) and my books are there for those who care to read them. That's all I need to concern myself with.
How about you?