Unexpected Spiritual Lessons Made with Essential Oils
Yesterday, I challenged myself to learn a new knit stitch. I’ve been doing a lot of crocheting lately and decided it was time to switch to knitting for a while so I wouldn’t get out of practice. My friend Julie had cleaned out her knitting supplies and given me all the wonderful duplicates from her stash, so this gave me a chance to try out a set of new-to-me needles and make a birthday gift for a friend.
By “challenged myself” I mean the stitch was also new to me, not particularly complicated. I needed something that would provide the satisfaction of different without the “I will never get this!” frustration that caused me to give up on double-pointed needles before I stabbed the couch with them. (For the record, I finally got the hang of them, they just make me tense, which for me completely defeats the purpose of knitting.) When I got confused, I looked up YouTube videos until I found one that included a step-by-step tutorial, rather than hands working yarn and needles with funky music in the background and nobody explaining the process. By the time my parents and Nathan and I sat down to watch fireworks, I had this:
The stitch is called Chinese wave. As soon as I have two squares, I plan to stitch them together as a sachet and decorate it with ribbon.
These days, “making something” has become a form of therapy. When I need to relax, make up for an unproductive writing day, or focus on something lovelier than the story in my head, I find something creative to do. Some people go for a run, I crochet a coaster or make perfume with essential oils.
A few weeks ago, a creative challenge didn’t go quite as smoothly. My sister Sherry asked me to make some of my homemade body butter for one of her friends. Instead of playing it safe and going with the same blend that I’d made for myself and Sherry, I decided to do something original. I bought pure cocoa butter instead of shae butter and made an alarming discovery—pure, unrefined cocoa butter smells like chocolate, which is great when one is in the mood for dessert but weird when slathered on the skin. I managed to balance the fragrance with essential oils, but I still didn’t love it. On top of that, we were having a heat wave and I couldn’t get it to stay firm. By the end of the evening, I’d rubbed so much of it into my feet and arms to see what it smelled like as I doctored it up that when I went for a walk I started attracting bees.
I messed with that body butter for three days. I went to bed thinking about it, stayed awake at night trying to figure out how to fix it, and considered throwing it away. The cost of the ingredients motivated me to pray for a miracle. Seriously, I considered laying hands on the jar. Instead, I poured the contents into a bowl, put it back in the fridge to set again, added a tiny bit of corn starch, whipped it with a hand mixer, and kept it in the fridge until the day Sherry needed it. I stayed indoors after sampling it. I named it Flowers and Chocolate, decided it wasn’t so bad after all, and prayed that her friend would love the fragrance even if it wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for. Sherry thought it smelled great!
These two very different experiences with creativity got me thinking about my responses to challenges. Some I take on myself and thoroughly enjoy, probably because I made the choice and know I can give it up at any time. Others are assigned to me. They seem perfectly do-able at first, until I find myself with a mess on my hands that doesn’t look at all like what I had in mind. Sometimes the mess happened because I decided to make the process harder than it needed to be. I didn’t purposely do anything wrong, just went a little overboard at a time when it would have been wiser to stick with what I knew would work. Other times the mess wasn’t my fault at all. I’d been handed something hard and was doing my absolute best in an overwhelming situation.These two very different experiences with creativity got me thinking about my responses to… Click To Tweet
What I end up with depends on my response. How to fix it keeps me awake at night, and I might even be tempted to give up, throw it all away, forget it! All I’m doing is wasting ingredients and attracting bees. Next time, I might get stung, and it would be my own fault. If I’m wise, I will consider the cost of quitting, step away for a while to pray, confess whatever I did that contributed to the disaster in front of me, and do what I can to make something beautiful out of it. When it’s finally done, the results might not look (or smell) exactly like what I’d hoped for, but it’ll do. Someone else might even say, “I love this! It’s perfect for me.”
No matter what the results look like, I’ve learned something valuable to help me next time, and that alone is worth sticking with it.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”James 1:4 (NIV)
What challenge are you facing today? Is it something you chose or something that chose you? Either way, ask God to give you the perseverance to stick it out, even if all you can do is do your best in a very difficult situation. Ask Him to show you one thing that you are learning that might make the next challenge a bit easier.What challenge are you facing today? Is it something you chose or something that chose you? Click To Tweet