Last week I spent one morning with my son’s first grade class on a field trip. It wasn’t the kind where the kids bounce off the wall and you can’t wait to leave, but it was the kind of trip where you leave and your heart feels like it grew two sizes that day. Groups of us were given a packet representing a family who could not afford gifts on their own. With anonymous childrens’ Christmas lists, we “shopped” around the room with new donated items and packaged them up in a bag to be retrieved by the family in need, so that they too could have a magical Christmas morning.
There’s nothing glamorous about lack. Lack of finances, lack of health, lack of peace — all leave a tremendous heaviness. Financial strain is no stranger to me. While we live within a comfortable budget now, I have also experienced the other side. Though I’ve never been on the receiving end charity, I do remember at times resenting other children’s birthday parties because I didn’t have enough money to get my children clothes they needed, and now I was supposed to buy a party gift? I also remember Christmases where the end of the day would result in tears, not because I didn’t get what I wanted, but because I didn’t get what I needed, and I didn’t know how I could get some of those things, apart from Christmas or birthdays. I longed for a sense of financial security. Ironically, comfort and wealth can provide an artificial sense of security, a false sense of glory that blinds us from the need of God. The gift of need is a void like a vacuum longing for the presence of God to fill and to make whole and secure.
Now the tight financial strain isn’t a part of our lives, and honestly, I hope it won’t be again. But I cannot help but marvel at how the place of lack enriched my life. In that place of lack, incredible creativity was born. Not for the sheer enjoyment of doing a craft and having every perfect tool and supply at my fingertips (because you all know, crafting can be an expensive hobby). But creativity that was born out of lack, out of not having the money or “necessary” elements to give gifts or make a beautiful home. I would save the ribbons on the throw-blanket packaging, I would cut off and save the buttons on a worn out garment. It was the place of lack and void that pushed me to think outside the borders of a picture perfect magazine and reimagine what could be with what I had.
This Christmas my daughter is 16 months old, and I am smitten with a little feminine toddler stirring up the norm in our male-dominant household. I am entranced by her stark contrast to her brothers and I celebrate it – by making dresses of course. Realistically, if I wanted, and thought it was important, I could have spent a lot on a Christmas dress. I do love to sew, but I could still spend a lot on supplies. But this dress, this dress looks like it would’ve cost $90 at a boutique, but it cost $5 to make. I could have spent more; however, it was a gift from the days of learning about treasures from lack. It is a dress made from rejected, worn, torn and broken things, brought to life again.
This dress is made from her Daddy’s old button up shirt. It ripped at some point and was unfixable, but I always loved the fabric, so I tucked it away, thinking, someday…for something. The buttons: I collect buttons I am drawn to at thrift stores. The pleated black-check fabric was material I paid pennies for at a thrift store. And the lace underslip was a clearance women’s camisole at Target. This hodgepodge of discarded, worn-out things, born out of seeing what something could become, in a place of lack, has become my favorite dress of my daughter’s.
I used the bodice of one pattern and altered it; I used the sleeves of another pattern, and altered it, and the rest, is my own design.
Upon completion of this little dress, I was giddy. Thrilled with how it turned out, and tickled by the creativity of the materials used. Sure, I could have bought all new materials, but I think part of the joy is seeing the glory in the discarded things, the broken things, the torn and worn out things, and remaking them into something glorious.
It was the lean years, as a girl, and as newlywed that taught me the gift of lack, the value of void. While the reality of the stress, weighs heavy, there is a revelation of a Creator breathing creativity waiting to be grasped. In the beginning of the world, the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the surface of the deep. In the beginning, the earth was an empty place, a desolation, a wilderness containing nothing; a void that was full of darkness and obscurity.
Formless. Void. Dark. That’s where the breath of the Creative One moved to make a change. Creation story begins as God separates and gathers to bring form, and then secondly removes the emptiness by making and filling*; and we follow suit as we create – separate and gather supplies, make and fill the broken or empty places.
There is a place in eternity where a clock is hung. All things come together when the Creator stepped into His own creation as a human baby. Astoundingly, the baby Jesus didn’t arrive in a palace or the temple. He arrived in a town, void of room for visitors. He arrived in a family that lacked wealth. He arrived in a political climate that was dark and heavy. He arrived in a stable, perhaps because the lowlier of his creation would recognize His worth. He arrived, the Creator in His own creation to set order to a world that had once again become broken, formless, void and full of darkness. Jesus was coming to separate sin from identity and to make His broken creation whole again.
The story is wide-told, of his virgin-birth, his death and resurrection, and the thrill of hope of the Creator gathering the brokenness, taking the sin, and creatively restoring the people of earth. But it is not just a story of the beginning, or held to once upon a time. Today, he comes and invades our own broken places.
Where there is a void, there is room for creativity; the place of lack attracts a creative presence to respond and interject a solution, greater than any premade thing you can buy on shelf. In the beginning, there was darkness, something described as void. In the dark, the Creator came in the void of a humble town, a utilitarian shabby stable, the Savior of the world was born. The Creator stepped into His own creation to give the only creative solution that could transform the place of lack to a place of fullness and joy.
In the midst of life, being made up of a sum of joys and pains, I am acutely aware that December isn’t a holiday from life, as much as we would like it to be. But this year, more than any other year, I am personally impacted by the Creator, who took my broken pieces and is making them whole, who took my flaws and turned them to beauty marks, who exchanged fear and anxiety for peace, who took my sin away from me and who gave me creativity that I may continue to fill the void with hope and beauty.
My wish for you this Christmas is that if you have empty places, you would know the Creator God, who will fill you with all hope. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas! I’ll be back next week with some hints on transitional décor, and I’ll start of the New Year with the 2017 Favorites.
Thanks for stopping by. Merry, Merry Christmas!
*From NIV Study text note Genesis 1:2.
The velvet button boots in this post can be found here.