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Renewal Series: Letting God Renew Me

Art is one of the places I go when I need to be refreshed and feel alive. I'll watercolor things that bring me peace, or places where I've encountered God's truth. It's one of my favorite things!

But often, I hit "creativity blocks" when I no longer know what to paint pictures of. And thus far, my fix has been to simply white-knuckle my way through a stack of paper, trying new things until I find that new subject matter I like until I rediscover the relief that art brings to me.

But that process is exhausting, and sometimes it makes me feel like a bad artist. Watching so many failed attempts stack up on each other, feeling further and further from beauty and peace, and worrying whether I'll ever find another subject matter I like again; it's enough to make me leave the watercolors on the shelf for weeks on end.

I think I do this with God, too. I'll feel far away from him and won't understand how he's working in my life, so I drift. When the distance finally hits me and I want to be closer in, I find myself trying to white-knuckle my way back to God. I basically try to set my tires back into the same grooves in the road that led me to him several times before. I figure, "If this track worked then, it'll work again," and I spin my wheels along these grooves, doing the same tasks over and over.

Here's the problem, though. The majority of the time, I don't feel any closer to God doing those task-like things. Those grooves grow into ruts, and I get stuck. I can't find my way back my way; I can't force the wheels to carry me anywhere. And I feel bad! Because I feel like I'm failing at my relationship with God.

I've learned that what I need to do instead is often nothing. He said it; it is finished. God is within me already, always. Everywhere I go I am in the presence of the Lord. I can't fail at that.

Other times, I need to let God's presence guide me to a new way of connecting because there is always something new to learn or try.

I think we all have a tendency to forget that God is a loving (God's action is loving) God. For reasons good in themselves, we can get caught up doing and repeating practices that offer "xyz" desired effect in our spiritual lives. These practices are inherently beautiful and will always have a place, but I want to let God inspire and renew me more than I want to force myself to repair my own brokenness.

When I paint, I want to let inspiration rush to me like a waterfall — going instead to watch a sunrise and to be in awe than to anxiously whip through pages of unfulfilling brushstrokes. When I talk to God, I want to celebrate how his love is enough, and we can try new things together daily because God is already here. I don't want to deepen a rut or push myself down one path of counting my past mistakes when, instead, I can just open the door when he knocks.

Hattie Pace Hattie Pace is a junior from Austin, Texas, studying International Studies and French at Seaver College.