Welcome to the Grace of Yes Book Club! We're reading Lisa Hendey’s new book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living.

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Have you ever asked yourself, "Just how did I get here, anyway?" When I feel like I'm in over my head with something, that's the first question that comes to mind.

In Chapter 3 of The Grace of Yes, Lisa Hendey muses,

I can see forks in the path, places where a yes led in one direction and away from another at exactly the right moment. I give the glory to God for opening doors, pointing the way, and over and over again graciously accepting my yes.

A yes may be spoken at just the right time, but that doesn't mean the road down which it leads will be an easy one. It requires generosity of spirit. It requires us to do the best we can at whatever we're doing, no matter what that is. If we do that, we will be enabled to show God's goodness to others.

So that means that when, each and every morning, I write "Do your best today!" on the blackboard in the second-grade classroom where I'm substitute teaching, I'm encouraging the students not only to use their neatest handwriting and to double-check their math, but to do their work to the best of their God-given abilities. That's creativity.

If you think that you have to be good at things like scrapbooking, knitting, quilting, or cake decorating to be considered creative, think again. The grace of creativity touches our work, no matter what we do, whether we teach, fold laundry, program computers, comfort babies, fly airplanes, or compose symphonies. Our challenge is to be open to doing our best with the gifts we've been given, to making the most of the opportunities that are presented to us, and, yes, even to graciously do those tasks we don't find the most fulfilling, fascinating or fun.

One of the biggest obstacles to creativity can be our own perfectionism. In this chapter, Lisa divulges that she finds herself putting off certain tasks because she doesn't have all the perfect conditions in which to work, from the proper light to the optimal temperature of her cup of coffee. She refers to this as "hound-winding," after the tendency of a dog to circle around and around before it settles in to rest. I'm so guilty of doing that, and woe to anyone who suggests that I'm merely procrastinating! That's not it at all, I rationalize; I'm just waiting for conditions to be right.

I'm here to tell you that conditions will never be right. And that's OK. What's not OK is letting our opportunities to bless others with our creativity slip away because conditions were not quite right. Real creativity comes when we do our best under less-than-perfect conditions.

As we consider creativity--and the challenges that it brings, Lisa reminds us that we need to back it up with prayer:

The smartest thing work-wise that I do every day is to include among my morning prayers a plea to accurately hear and respond to God's agenda for my work.

May I suggest St. Francis of Assisi's Prayer Before the Cross:

Most High, all-glorious God,

Bring light to the darkness of my heart.

Give me right faith, firm hope, and perfect charity,

With wisdom and insight, O Lord, that I might always discern Your holy and true will.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. What is your biggest obstacle to creativity? Brainstorm ways to overcome this challenge.
  2. Read Colossians 3:17. How can this passage inspire your creativity?
  3. Think about a time when you worked through the challenge of less-than-perfect conditions to complete a task. What was the grace behind your creativity?

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

Next week, we'll cover Chapter 4: The Grace of Integrity. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Grace of Yes Book Club page.

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Copyright 2014 Barb Szyszkiewicz