The following is an excerpt from Create Anyway by Ashlee Gadd, available today wherever books are sold!
In those first few weeks at home with a milk-drunk newborn in my arms, I Googled every little thing, hopping in and out of online parenting forums, desperate for an instruction manual. Is it normal for a baby to poop six times in one day? Does breastfeeding ever get easier? Underneath my nitty-gritty questions loomed the ultimate insecurity every first-time mom battles: Am I doing this whole motherhood thing right?
Just a few months prior, I had quit my pencil-skirt-and-high-heels- wearing marketing job to pursue writing and photography. Within the span of a single year, I traded cubicle life for freelance gigs and my childless freedom for motherhood. In my head, I envisioned myself slipping into these new professional and personal roles gracefully, the way a ballerina glides across a stage. In actuality, the transition looked more like an overly confident kid falling off a skateboard.
I struggled with loneliness. At the time, my husband, Brett, commuted an hour to and from work, leaving me home alone with our son, Everett, from roughly seven in the morning to six in the evening each day. Our days were quiet, monotonous, and unseen. Sometimes we only left the house for a brief walk around the neighborhood. Around that time, I discovered podcasts and began popping headphones in my ears on our daily walks, eager to listen to my “friends on the Internet” who didn’t know me at all. I loved being home with my son, a privilege I did not take for granted, but most days, I felt utterly invisible. I missed having coworkers. I also missed the proverbial gold stars and the swell of pride I’d feel after being told, “Great job.”
Perhaps even more than that, though, I missed the comfort of having a supervisor sign off on my decisions. As a clueless first-time mom, I craved a nod of approval to accompany the wide array of choices I made each day, a safety net to fall into from time to time.
Having a boss seems like a weird thing to miss, but I often did. And not just because I wanted someone to cover for me on sick days or pat me on the back after I handled an explosive diaper change. Sometimes I simply wished for someone to grant me permission, for someone to whisper, “It’s okay to _______.”
It’s okay to ask for help.
It’s okay to eat cereal for dinner.
It’s okay to write while the baby naps, even though the house is a disaster.
I think I had been a parent for roughly thirty-six hours when it dawned on me: motherhood doesn’t come with permission slips.
One of the first things we learn about God in Scripture is that He created, and one of the first things we learn about ourselves is that we are made in His likeness. If God is the first artist—and we are a walking, breathing reflection of Him—this means our desire to create is hereditary, a fundamental imprint of His Spirit in us.
Right off the bat, God tasks mankind with taking care of the earth and naming all the animals. From the very beginning, God calls us to be good stewards of His creation and invites us to co-create with Him. God filled the world with good things and calls us to do the same—to showcase hope, light, beauty, and restoration as part of the ongoing process of God’s glory infusing the earth.
As Anne Lamott says, “To be great, art has to point somewhere.”
God did not create us to be mere spectators, watching on the sidelines inhaling popcorn while He does all the work. Rather, He invites us to be active participants, co-laborers in making the invisible Kingdom visible. The act of creating is part of our calling as image bearers.
There is no better permission slip than this: to know and believe with your whole heart that the God who made you, the same God who designed blueprints for the galaxies and poured the foundation of the earth, designed you in His likeness, on purpose, for a purpose.
Permission to create already exists inside of you. It’s running through your blood, your bones, every strand of DNA embedded in the body God made from dust. You have permission to pursue your creative gifts as a testament to who God created you to be. You have permission to make beautiful things in a broken world as a testament to God’s grace mightily at work in you.
You don’t need to wait another second for some metaphorical boss to show up at your front door with a permission slip to create. You can stop staring at the sky waiting for God to carve a yes in the clouds. He’s already carved a yes in you.