Books on Culture: A Million Little Ways, Part Two

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In part two of her book A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You were Made to Live, Emily P. Freeman tells us to “Uncover the Art You were Born to Make.”

“God has already done the work of putting his art within you,” Freeman says. “ ... Uncovering your art is about uncovering what is really there within you, coming face-to-face with your profound capacity for beauty as well as sin, your deepest dreams and your longing for God.”

We are all image bearers of God and there are a million little ways our lives can reflect his glory. Freeman suggests five different places to look as we consider uncovering the art within us.

Look Within

Freeman invites us to take another look at our deepest longings and redefine what we know as desire.

Somewhere along the way, the author tells us, we came to believe that to follow our desire is selfish, but really, the opposite is true. When we deny these creative urges that God has placed inside of us, we are witholding our gift from the world. And we are giving the art a dangerous place.

We call them idols. And in a way I'm sure we don't intend, denying the art and the dream may be the very thing that opens the door to making the art the god rather than God himself. You revere and respect the artistic potential of a dream rather than recognizing God as the Creator who gives the gift of co-creation to us.

Freeman invites us to see our desires as a way of drawing closer to God and therefore becoming more fully ourselves.

Look back

Looking into the past can also help uncover our art. The path to who we were made to be is often a matter of remembering. When we were children, creativity was a second language. Perhaps we let fear lead us away from that which made us feel fully alive; perhaps we abandoned that dream for the fear of being seen as silly. Whatever it was, [y]our childhood dream delights God, Freeman says.

This doesn’t mean every dream will come true, but uncovering these dreams has an important impact on our lives now.

In one way, it almost seems cruel to ask you to access this part of your soul, because really, on earth, there can never be complete satisfaction of our deepest desires. ... But hope does not disappoint. When we recognize the place where our desire runs parallel to that of Christ’s, then we will live in the midst of the not-but-not-quite-yet with a peace that goes beyond our ability to understand.

Look Up

This is the cornerstone of A Million Little Ways:

[W]e cannot do this life … We cannot change this world. We cannot make this art … Not on our own … In the act of sinking into God, of looking up at him from the depths of our own inadequacy, we begin to know who he is. In turn, we know who we are as well.

When we follow the gaze of Jesus—keep our eyes fixed on God—this dying to self is our invitation to live.

… The miracle, upside-down work of God is that our failure isn’t an obstacle, it’s an opportunity to remember to sink into God. Not having what it takes is not a liability, it’s a prerequisite. Maybe there is hope for us after all.

Look Around

In this chapter, Freeman encourages us to pay attention to our critics.

The voice of the critic forces us to face our biggest fears and, in so doing, listen for the voice of God. If we dare to believe Christ’s dying and rising back up apply even in this, we can then be oddly, ironically, deliriously free.

The author gives good words on the importance of letting God’s voice be the loudest in our minds.

Look Beneath

This chapter is on listening—on paying attention to some of life’s little surprises and digging to find the deeper message they carry. Freeman encourages us to listen to our tears, listen to our questions, and listen to our heartbreak.

The author tells us these emotional doorways may carry a message that helps us uncover our art, “… Here is where your heart beats strong. Here is a hint to your design. Here is a gift from your inner life, sent to remind you of those things that make you come alive.”

Part two of A Million Little Ways encourages us to practice quieting the soul in the midst of distraction and obligation to hear what we may otherwise have missed.

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On Monday afternoons in February, we're discussing Emily P. Freeman's A Million Little Ways. This week, we read Part Two: Uncover the Art You were Born to Make. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of A Million LIttle Ways. The winner will be announced next week when Sandra Heska King leads us in discussing the beginning of Part Three: Release the Art You were Made to Live, chapters 8-10. I hope you’ll join us!

Laura Boggess is a content editor at The High Calling. She is the author of two novellas for teens, Brody's Story and Derek's Story. Her first nonfiction book, Playdates with God, will be released in the fall of 2014. Laura blogs about life and faith at

Image by Susan Etole. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

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