The awkward silence descends. Everyone fidgets and I begin to hear crickets in the background. The question volleyed into this space of women is “What is your element, how did God make you?”
No one wants to go first. For some it may be that they truly don’t know. Don’t see the worth buried in them, placed there by their maker. For others it may be the awkwardness of listing all your qualities without sounding like you are bragging. After all, we’re Christian ladies abounding in humility, right? And for others it may be that they do know, they do feel that intrinsic gift and are simply doubting the value of their contribution. They’re not sure it really counts. I have felt a little of all these at times.
Emily Freeman wrote a series on her blog, Chatting at the Sky, about art. In one particular post she asks the question “Are you an artist?” My automatic reaction was no. One look at her site and the clean white space, gorgeous photos, and amazing writing and I thought, well obviously she is. But the thought festered in my mind until I had to reconsider the whole question, to which I now answer, “YES, I am.”
My reason for saying no at first was simple. It seemed a lofty title for one who scratches out thoughts on old receipts and blogs when her kids are sleeping, or running around, or climbing on her. It seemed too high a rank for someone like me. Regular. We think if a title like artist is awarded it has to have general consensus. I am an artist if enough relevant people say so. Of course, who the relevant people are is another question entirely. I am an artist if my work gets noticed. Although truthfully, many an artist died with little or no recognition.
It is altogether too presumptuous to give myself that title. Maybe we think that this same phantom rule also applies to our element. We assume that if our talents and passions aren’t recognized or acknowledged they aren’t really meaningful. Maybe they aren’t really there.
It’s rampant in our American church culture. There are the A-list qualities of the Alpha-males to lead, teach, and pastor. These are the anointed men of God who are eloquent, charismatic, and articulate. We tend to follow them and put them on stage or in charge of small groups. We really like them in their element because they are so blatantly obvious. The guy can teach or preach or lead. He’s valuable. And I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with them being the way God made them, but sometimes if you are on the B-list or God forbid the C-list, you can feel pretty worthless in comparison. And if there’s anything that can be guaranteed about women, it’s that we constantly fall into comparison.
We’ve all heard the everyone has a part in the body sermon, but do we really value the elbow as much as the mouth or the eyes? If the dude who sweeps up after church doesn’t show up, someone else can do it, but if the pastor is absent you’ve got a problem. After all, it doesn’t take any special talent to sweep a floor.
So when that question is asked ,we feel something deeper. “WHY are you?”
Why am I? I know the why in terms of theology. Glorify God, enjoy Him forever. Got it. But what about the day-to-day?
What about the, Why Alia? Why me, specifically? Have you ever asked this? Don’t you want to know? Not you asking, why Alia , cause that would just be weird, but the why you?
I posed the question about your element in my last post and asked for comments about what yours are. A few people responded on here and I thank you for those. I’m new to blogging so it’s not surprising I didn’t get a lot of comments but what was surprising was that I got quite a few private email responses.
It seems that some people wanted to share but those first few reasons kept them from it. They weren’t sure if their element really counted. They weren’t sure if it made any difference because it was simple and unnoticed. They weren’t sure they even had an element in which to operate. Let me assure you, you do.
It’s not something we necessarily find on our own. I found mine when I released everything that made up my identity. Mine were revealed as I was pursuing God and allowing my identity to be formed in Him. When we are close to our maker, we feel His pleasure in how we are made. We don’t need the general consensus. We don’t need the recognition. We are fully seen just as we are by the only one who truly matters.
Sisters, we shouldn’t be timid about this. It’s not really humble to deny something that is all God’s doing anyway. We don’t boast in ourselves, but in the power of God within us. And if you don’t think your contribution is valuable, if you don’t think you are infinitely special and purposed because it hasn’t been noticed, shrug off those things that repress you and say, “Yes, I am.” I am because He made me.
So, I will say, “Yes, I am an artist,” not because I am read or because I am good but because I express. I express art in my care for my children, my loving of my husband, my hands lifted in worship, in my weaving these words, in my very Alia-ness that God endowed me with. I express Him.