There are some books that we tear into the moment they arrive in the mail, ones we start reading in the store even before we pay for them. And then there are some books that haunt us from our shelves, books that we know we need to read, we just can’t quite summon the courage for quite yet.
A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman was one of the latter for me. I bought this book when it released, and then let it sit. I wasn’t ready to read it, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to ask myself the questions it contained within. This shouldn’t surprise anyone – it took me four years to read Emily’s debut book, Grace for the Good Girl, and that book wrecked me. I think one Emily-book might be enough wreckage for this soul in a year, so I held onto this release for a while longer.
And I am glad I did. 2016 has brought a lot of new (I discussed it all in my most recent newsletter – you can read it and subscribe here), but also a lot of doubt. Who am I to start a podcast, to impart knowledge to other people struggling with exactly what I am struggling with? Who am I to own a small business, to charge people actual money to work with me? Who am I to write a novel, to be so bold as to create something and send it out into the world?
A Million Little Ways answered these questions for me.
In this book, Emily reminds us that we were created to create, created to do and to make and to be more fully ourselves. If our heart desires to write or to paint or to make art in another way, we should give it a listen rather than regard the time spent on such an endeavor wasted. This is a book about bringing glory to God in the million little ways our heart desires.
“…being an artist has something to do with being brave enough to move toward what makes you come alive.” – p. 20
“Art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are.” – p. 21
“Jesus reminds us we are art and empowers us to make art.” – p. 29
“You are a mess. You are and I am and everyone else is, too. Some of us do a better job of hiding it, but it doesn’t make it any less true… You are capable of glory-grasping and it might get ugly.” – p. 36
“First thoughts can be scary, weird, raw, but also extremely sacred.” – p. 43
“Could it also be possible that somewhere along the way you got the message that to follow desire would be selfish, when really, it would be the opposite?” – p. 47
“Discovering what makes you come fully alive isn’t the foal of life, but it is evidence of life.” – p. 56
“We want to live a beautiful life that means something. We want to create and love and move on purpose. We want to make art.” – p. 72
“The sting [of critics] means I am alive and I am human.” – p. 96
“I don’t want to make mediocre art and I don’t want to live a mediocre life.” – p. 102
“Art makes it possible for us to remember both the beauty and the horrific, the lovely and the loss.” – p. 108
“I am compelled to approach these next few moments like they are lines in a poem rather than items on my agenda.” – p. 130
“Showing up has simple implications: you are dressed, you are moving into the day, you have willing hands and an open heart. You are here.” – p. 135
“If you are worried that your art is a waste of time, perhaps you need to redefine success in art. Are you becoming more fully yourself?” – p. 141
“Our offerings are unique responses to a living, giving God.” – p. 165
“When we something that delights us, in art or in life, it is usually a result of the consistent, sacrificial, nonromantic effort of an artist.” – p. 195
Should you read this book? If you are struggling with the idea of whether or not you have something to offer the world, then the answer is yes. If you worry about whether or not the time you spend blogging or writing or drawing in the little corners of life are worth it, read this book. If you worry that letting your husband do the dishes so you can steal a few moments with your art in the evenings makes you a second-rate wife, then read this book. Read this book and discover the art you were made to live.
Have you read A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live? If so, what did you take away from it?
P.S. If you are struggled to make your creativity a priority, might I suggest you tune in to the podcast Ashley Brooks and I host? It’s called Chasing Creative, and we and our guests get real about what works, what doesn’t, and why it is important to make time for what matters most in your creative life.