I have been teaching jewelry making classes for the last three and a half months, and I think I have learned more from my girls than they have from me. A vast majority of them are hesitant to join us. I can't tell you how many times I have heard them say "Oh I can't do that" or "I wouldn't be any good at that" or "I wouldn't even know what to do even if I came." Only a few are willing to even try.
So those brave few start making their jewelry, and they realize that its fun... and they can do it. And then a few more join us, and before you know it, even the nay-sayers are elbow deep in beads having the time of their life. All it takes is just one girl with a happy smile to convince the others that maybe they can do it after all.
Its fun to watch their creative process as well. Some of them (myself included) are very particular about their designs...it has to be with certain beads, of a certain color, in a certain pattern. Others are happy to put whatever beads strike their fancy on their string. They are just happy to be making jewelry and less concerned with the pattern as they are enjoying the process. These are the ones I am most envious of. They haven't allowed themselves to become wrapped up with deadlines or creating the next big thing, instead they wholeheartedly enjoy what they are doing. I forget that sometimes...to just enjoy what I am doing.
My favorite part of our classes are the smiles of complete joy that cover their faces as they realize that they were able to make something beautiful after all. As we are cleaning up, you can often hear them going down the hall showing everyone they see what they have made. To the naked eye, their creations may not look like anything special--just beads on a string--but to each one of them, it is a priceless work created by their hands. And it brings them (and me!) so much happiness. I love watching their joy. Its contagious.
When I was in college, I was given the task of leading the pre-school aged children's choir during Vacation Bible School. It was up to us to come up with the songs, and we had so much fun that week singing with the little ones. They didn't care what they were singing (although it seemed like we sang an awful lot of Barney songs), they were just happy to be singing. I'm sure that the night of the program, that parents and other audience members wondered at how off-key some of them sang. But the children didn't care. They were happily singing from their little hearts.
Not to0 long before our concert, I had run across some verses in Psalms that blew my mind.
"...Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and rulers on earth,
young men and maidens, old men and children.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens..."
Psalms 148: 7-13 (NIV)
My first thought was how on earth do cattle praise God? I mean they are cows!! The more I thought about it, I realized that cattle praise God by just being what they are. They don't try to change themselves. They are who God created them to be, and by doing what they were created to do, they praise God. It totally changed the way I looked at myself and the way I approached things. Was I really praising God by doing what I was created to be, or was I following what I thought society wanted me to do instead?
I think this is one of the things that is lacking in society today. We get so caught up in what others think of us that we forget to allow ourselves to be what God created us to be. We are so concerned with how we sound that we forget to sing (or dance or bead) with abandon. When was the last time that you just let loose and sang because you were happy? Or danced like a fool because it was fun?
God wants us to praise Him. He wants us to come to Him with a child-like faith...to praise Him in our own special way. He has given us each special talents and gifts, and by using those gifts we are praising Him. So what if we are off key when we sing, as long as we are singing with our hearts?!
My prayer for you this week is that you will allow yourself to find that one thing that makes you happy and then do that with a happy heart, to use your gifts to praise Him.