By Rhoda Klein Miller
Did you pick up a new hobby, skill or craft project in the past few months? Our church librarian Eilleen recently left me a photocopy of an article about how the pandemic has spurred an increased interest in knitting. The rise in anxiety due to heightened health concerns and economic instability along with isolating social restrictions have left many searching for ways to escape their gloomy thoughts and feelings. Crafting, especially the kind that involves detail work, such as sewing or soldering, requires focused attention and stimulates the brain with multiple sensory inputs. Certain handiwork can be both intellectually challenging and relaxing at the same time.
Rather than full escapism, while absorbed in a creative project with repetitive movements like crochet, origami or dance, there is a tactile anchor provided while you wrestle with turbulent thoughts instead of avoiding them. Even if your feelings are hard to process, being productive and purposeful with your body counters depressive symptoms by triggering the brain’s feel good response. The idea is to have a rewarding experience take the edge off, not override, the unpleasant and necessary work of introspection.
It is no surprise then many addiction recovery programs employ crafting as a means to transition clients from substance abuse to healthier coping strategies. Creating something for ourselves or someone else to enjoy also helps our sense of self-efficacy and esteem. In fact the WHO defines wellbeing as “an ability to realize personal potential, cope with daily stress and contribute productively to society.” After reading Eileen’s clipping, I began to wonder if creating is therapeutic for God too. Far from stoic, the Bible describes the Almighty as grieving and heartbroken deity.
As we step back in time to when the earth was formless and void, what motivated the Trinity to pour out its creative power on this planet? Could it be as we were designed “in the image of God” (Gen 1:27) that we were readied with creativity both to echo our Creator’s joyful expression and also ease the pain of sin in the event we succumb to it? I think so as I read Paul’s confident declaration “My God will meet all your needs from the riches of His glory in Jesus!” (Phil 4:19)
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