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Laying Down Your Sword to Pick Up a Paintbrush

My friend and I sat on my patio, drinking tea and catching up with life. She had just moved to a new situation, away from familiar work, beautiful spaces and valued friends, and she was experiencing the exhausting emptiness of a job that was too full, a context where she felt undervalued, and a place where friends were not naturally found. The tears filled her eyes as she spoke of her weariness, her disillusionment, and her anger. My friend is a fighter: she wants to right wrongs for herself and others, she wants to demand a human pace and human respect. She wants to know and be known. And she has been fighting hard for what she wants.

After the first cup of tea, I offered her this observation from Dorothy Sayers: "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a medium for creation." And I suggested, "Perhaps it is time to drop your sword and pick up your paint brush."

And we were off, exploring the internal battles that we so often fight with others even when they never experience the swordplay in our souls.

We spoke of the weariness created by internal turmoil and that lack of quiet within ourselves that adds to the general frenetic emptiness. And then we turned to the pallet of colors she had been given in this season—not the rich reds, golds, and blues that this friend would naturally reach for, but a more subdued set of tones: grays, browns, and maybe a few tans. Could there be beauty in this season? Could life be a medium for creation—even here?

It is not the first conversation I have had in the last week on the difference between a full life and a frenetic one. And I find myself increasingly recognizing that, when there are so very few things over which we have control, we still have the choice of whether to wield a sword or pick up a brush.

I have no idea what beauty the Lord will create through my friend in this season—how large or small the canvas she will be given, or what colors may appear on her pallet. But I do know this: in most seasons of life, beauty accomplishes a great deal more than anger, and a brush rests more easily in our hands than a sword. And so I hugged her good-bye with this prayer in my heart: "May the beauty of the Lord our God rest upon us. Establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:17).

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