So last year, after carrying a huge backpack/shoulder-bag/handbag around with me since about the age of 13, I finally made the rather life changing and epic decision…. To buy a smaller backpack.
My decision was influenced by a number of factors.
One, carrying a seriously heavy shoulder bag was giving me some weirdly stiff shoulders from the general lobsidedness of everything.
Two, it was about to become winter in Sapporo and my canvas bags were not going to provide any kind of snow-proof-protection.
Finally, and most importantly. I was just guilty of carrying to much stuff.
You know, stuff?
Not stuff that I needed. Not even necessarily stuff that I wanted. Often just stuff that had acculmated in my huge bag because the space was there to be filled and I failed at doing massive clear outs on a particularly frequent basis.
So on any one day I might be carrying about a couple of novels, my laptop, a few tubs of moisturiser, a pencil case and an iPad. With a stack of old headbands, packs of tissues, and countless sheets of paper that I’d forgotten about. In fact, most things that went into my bag got pretty forgotten about. Except I was still carrying them. And this was made pretty evident by both the size and weight of my epic handbag.
Last year, I decided it was time for a change.
A big one.
I bought a smaller backpack.
Real small actually. Made of leather. Pretty darn pretty. Big enough for my iPad. But not my laptop. Big enough for one book. But no more. Big enough for what I need each day. But not big enough for all the junk I don’t really need.
I can now say, with an honest 4 months or so reflection on this process.
That buying a smaller backpack has revolutionised my life.
My shoulders don’t hurt. I know what I have and where I have it. I don’t have too much. I have just enough. Things are easy to find. Pleasant to reach for. There’s no unseen dirt lingering in the depths of the fabric slung over my shoulders. I don’t carry my crap from the last billion years around on my back like a prolonged-unseen-instrument of torture. I mean, yeah sure, there are times where I kind of wish I had that third tube of moisturiser or remember how I used to find the Complete Works of Shakespeare that I for some reason had ‘on hand.’ But, my life is a whole lot easier now. A whole lot simpler now. A whole lot more freeing now. And it hurts a lot less.
And I was thinking this and looking at my backpack the other day, when I read this blog by Glennon Doyle Melton called Three Rules for Surviving a Creative Life.
She’s basically writing a piece to encourage tired artists, and she wrote a couple of things that God hammered into me with a divine Holy Spirit driven sledge hammer.
You hang around you art. You follow it around and make sure everyone is being nice to it… You defend your art. You become your art’s lawyer, or its babysitter, or maybe its secret service agent. That’s what is making you tired. Because you’re not a lawyer or babysitter or armed guard, you are an artist. You’ve taken on too many jobs…
You know Genesis – the creation story? If we look at that story for hints about how the ultimate creator creates, we find this.
The Rhythm of the Creator:
God created the seas. God called it good.
God created the land. God called it good.
God created the animals. God called them good.
God created light. God called it good.
What if this is a guide to the creative life?
Create. Call it good. Rest.
I love this. But as I read it I was reminded of my backpack. Not my real one, my life one.
The one in which I carry around my mistakes. My failures. My regrets. The one in which I carry around what people think about me, good or bad. The one in which I carry around people’s criticism, people’s gossip and my own bad memories. The one in which I remember the words spoken in anger. The lies. All the stuff that I’ve acculmated over the years.
And you know, I feel that this message is true for us all.
We were not created to carry that load around.
We were created to create. And call it good. And rest. And trust that Holy Spirit will keep changing us and calling us and making us more like him. We weren’t called to be lawyers who worry and fight and defend ourselves to everyone who crosses our paths. We were created to be artists, creating in the image of a Creator who speaks Truth over us and into us.
And I think God wants us to buy smaller backpacks.
And I really think that buying a smaller backpack will revolutionise our lives.
Our shoulders won’t hurt. We’ll know what we have and where we have it. We won’t have too much. We’ll have just enough. Things will be easy to find. Pleasant to reach for. There’ll be no unseen dirt lingering in the depths of the fabric slung over our shoulders. We won’t carry our crap from the last billion years around on our backs like a prolonged-unseen-instrument of torture. We’ll have to let go of all the stuff that doesn’t really matter, in order to make space for the stuff that really does. God’s Truth. The Word. His heart. His forgiveness. Life will be a whole lot easier then. A whole lot simpler then. A whole lot more freeing then. And it will hurt a lot less.
And I can’t help but think that’s what He was getting at when He told us to live for Him and Him alone. I don’t need to be a lawyer. Or a babysitter. Or a defender of my life. Those are not my jobs.
He just asked me to do the art thing.