And then there’s Jesus. We all love Jesus.
Yes, I feel very at home here.
But I have a confession to make. I’ve been asked to guest post twice (thank you, Becky!) and both times, I’ve gotten all squirmy. See, I’m not as brainy as these guys and I’m far too intimidated to pretend. For a month now this question has haunted me:
What in Middle Earth should I write about?
I had a couple ideas, but the more I tried to be intellectual, the more God brought me back to this verse:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. (Deut 6:5)
So instead of attempting to be profound, I’m going to tell you a little something about this verse and how it affected me, because it’s possible someone out there needs to hear it today.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to act. I grew up in a church that encouraged the creative arts. I was part of a team that traveled and did that sort of thing: drama, dance, mime, puppetry. I got a taste for it at an early age and assumed my life would always be full of stages.
But you know what they say about assuming, right?
After high school there was college and then work. I acted during those years as well—a little community theatre, a lot of church stuff. And then some very normal, very life kind of things happened for me. I got married. I moved. I got pregnant. And though I still yearned to be creative, I didn’t know how to do that with all these important milestones mowing me over.
I’d been married for about six years when I ran into the metaphoric wall. My husband and I were the youth pastors at our church and we’d just had our second child. We were busy about the Father’s business, but there was this vital part of me that wasn’t being used. Between work and church and children, the creative flame had been tucked away, less important somehow than the other things I had to do. But it was still there, still burning, still blistering.
My husband was very supportive, so I could have gone out on auditions. I could have tried to make that happen again. And for a time I did. But at the last minute, I’d bail out. On acting classes, on opportunities that presented themselves. Something in me had shifted. I was unwilling to give up family time to realize this life-long dream. And it made me feel like a failure.
One night, I was walking the floor with my fussy two month old and I realized that maybe I had misunderstood the passion inside of me. Maybe it wasn’t the stage I craved. Maybe it was the stories. Maybe it was the creative outlet. Maybe theatre was only a part of my life-passion. Maybe storytelling was the dream.That night God and I had a long talk. I wandered the house singing and praying and by the time my baby girl fell asleep I had the bare bones of what would become my first novel. More importantly, I had peace. And that brings me back to the verse from Deuteronomy.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Among the statements Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary makes about this passage, he says this, “We must love God above any creature whatever, and love nothing but what we love for him.” (emphasis mine)
I understand now that my frustration was rooted here. I no longer knew how to love God with the creative side of me. Life had changed. I was different, but part of my heart was dedicated to an old dream, a child’s dream. And I didn’t love it for God’s sake. I held onto it out of sentimentality. But in the frustration of it all, God was changing me. He was giving me another dream. A broader dream.
And while I’ll forever be enamored by performing arts, I can appreciate those years for what they were. They were a foundation. They laid the groundwork for the dream I’m living now.
If you’re reading this blog, odds are good that you’re a reader or a writer—maybe both. In either case, you’re probably a dreamer. It’s one of the things I love most about this community. But today, I wonder if any of you feel tied up by dreams or goals you established long ago. I wonder if, maybe, in your frustration, God’s been molding you, sculpting you to be used in a way only He could have imagined.
For a dreamer, perceived failure is heartbreaking. It can pack a punch that will leave us reeling and unable to create. But what happens when we get on our knees before the God who created everything? What happens when we lay our gifts down and let Him give us a new dream?
We’re able to love Him with every bit of our heart, aren’t we? If you find yourself frustrated in this way, desperate for a creative outlet, be encouraged. It’s possible the Creator of the universe is at work, molding you, crafting you. My guess is that in time, you will be used.
– – – – –
Shannon Dittemore has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. The daughter of one preacher and the wife of another, she spends her days imagining things unseen and chasing her two children around their home in Northern California. Shannon is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. Her second book, Broken Wings, will be released on February 19, 2013. You may learn more about Shannon or follow her at her web site, Facebook page, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Twitter.