Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman

Initially I felt A Million Little Ways was redundant. Own Your Life by Clarkson, Best Yes by Terkeurst, the writings of Shauna Niequist, and a zillion other books have a similar message: Find what it is God created you to do. And DO it.

But Emily adds a fresh, sweet voice to the discussion. The subtitle is "Uncover the Art You were Made to Live" and Emily encourages her readers to use their talents for God's glory and their joy. Her emphasis on our being able to "make art" because we are made in God's image really resonated with me.

You know creating is more than paint and clay and lyrics. You know there is art alive within you... You are an image bearer and that is not about you becoming famous or important or promoted but about you becoming more fully yourself for the glory of God. (p. 210)

The reason the book touched me in ways the others did not was because Emily seemed to know how I struggle with my giftedness. She writes, the natural thing to do when hints of your own design scare you is to run. (p. 62) She talks about how God gives us certain abilities and then asks us to use them in audacious ways that scare us because of our deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy.

My favorite part of the book was the chapter on "Crazy Ideas." In recent years I feel that God has given me some crazy ideas: planting a church with my husband in a city where few people see their need for God, editing a devotional book in Portuguese, and hosting a ladies' retreat with a focus on prayer. All these ideas scare me to death, but make me wholly dependent on the Lord, which is a good thing.

Emily gently chastised me for my fears and urged me to "embrace my image-bearing identity" and to "offer myself alive to the world" because I am God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works. (Eph 2:10)

To summarize, Christ is in you and wants to reveal himself through you in a million little ways - through your strength, and also through your weakness...

This is a very worthwhile read if you know what your gifts are and yet suffer with self-doubt.


Janie said...

I've never read many books about searching for what God created me to be or do, but when I have, I was a young, married 20-something in the initial stages of growing a family. I think the one thing I remember reading that had the most impression on me were the writings of Edith Schaeffer, which I'm sure has helped me clarify bearing His image rather than my own. Over the years, I've realized that my "art" is cultivated in taking care of my family and home. That involved(s) meal planning; washing, folding, and putting up clothes; vacuuming; tidying cluttered areas; weeding the flowerbed. Placing my husband's clean and rolled socks orderly in a drawer has become more important to me over the last couple of years than it ever has, possibly because I have more time to think about it intentionally and do it. And, yes, allowing my share of OCD-ness to pervade my domain helps my "art!" I've noticed this winter as I bring the wood in every morning and afternoon for the woodstove a satisfaction of taking more time in sweeping up the dropped and stray wood crumbs and making neat the area. Years before, I don't think I could "see" those things as well because my art focus then was feeding children and wiping mouths. :) And now in my more paced time, I find areas to highlight around the home with decor which my husband seems to be a bit surprised at but seems to appreciate. When I tell him I'm not creative but I can copy well, he disagrees and compliments me for what I've done. So, summing this lengthy comment up (which might turn into a blog post someday), I wonder (and it sounds like this book might be about this) if we need to "look" for art or simply work the area we've been allotted. Isn't taking the time to learn the alto part in a new hymn or slowing down to illustrate in some way a portion of scripture or a prayer (even if it's just rewriting it in neat, clear handwriting)--isn't that bearing the image of our great Creator? If we are made in His image, we don't have to go outside our selves to find it, do we? I don't need another book, but now I wonder if this might be an interesting read. Thanks, Hope!

Janet said...

I appreciate your thoughts on this book, Hope. I love the idea of our lives as art.

Maybe the reason there are so many different books on this subject is that we need to keep hearing it. It sounds like this one shaped the message in the best and most timely way for right now.

Barbara H. said...

I read and reviewed this last year ( Though I disagreed with her on a couple of points, I did like her overall message and encouragement.