Work came before the fall.
Ever thought of that? Before sin entered the world, and God punished Adam and Eve, He had already assigned them work. They were to care for the garden, and watch over the animals.
Work was not punishment. There is something intrinsically good about “the works of our hands”.
Throughout the Bible, one of the blessings God promises His children is that one day they will get to “enjoy the fields they have planted” and “live in the houses they built”. Too often, they would plant and someone else would eat it, or build and someone else would take it. But it is a blessing to be able to enjoy something that we produced ourselves.
Do we sometimes forget the tremendous satisfaction that comes from working on something tangible?
Our “work” has become so far removed from our “hands”, in some ways, that we miss the satisfaction that comes in completing something. When you work all day in meetings or in strategy sessions, you are accomplishing something. But it’s a different feeling than when you garden and you actually see something grow, or when you build something in a carpentry shop or when you knit.
I was thinking about this last night when I walked into my sitting room and was greeted by the 4 pillows I knit recently (well, I knit the covers!). They’re made with a bunch of yarns I had left over, and I just love them!
There is something really satisfying about accomplishing something with your hands, of producing something with your own effort. We feel it when we give a room a thorough cleaning, or when we make a scrumptious meal, or when we plant a garden. We feel it when we needlepoint, or scrapbook, or woodwork.
And I think there’s a reason for that. God is a creative God and He is an orderly God. In nature, the law of entropy tells us that things go from a state of order to state of increasing disorder. It’s impossible for it to go the other way.
And so when we intervene, and create order out of disorder, we’re participating in God’s creation.
(I don’t mean to be blasphemous, but you know what I mean, right?).
When we take a disordered room and clean it, we’re actually doing a godly thing. When we take different bits of yarn and create something useful out of it, we’re participating in a godly endeavour.
But here’s the problem: all these godly endeavours are slowly being drowned out in our society.
A century ago, when most people had the experience of living on a farm, they knew what it was to work the land. I don’t mean to glorify that life, but I do think working with the soil teaches you something that working on a computer doesn’t.
They also made their own clothes, and cooked from scratch all the time. We don’t.
Even our hobbies are increasingly becoming technified. We watch TV, blog (!), surf the internet, or play videogames. These things are all fun, but what do you have to show for it later? Maybe one of the reasons we increasingly feel dissatisfied with life, and yearn for a vacation, is because we don’t get the true satisfaction that comes from doing something with our hands enough. So our relaxation doesn’t really rejuvenate us.
Maybe if we took more time during the day to turn off the computer and the TV and pick up a crochet hook while we listen to music, or talk to our kids, or if we ventured outside and weeded a garden bed while talking to Jesus, we’d feel better about our lives and we’d have less of a need to escape.
Crafts and working with your hands help you to focus; help you to slow down and just breathe; help you to appreciate small things. They ground us, I think.
There’s something lovely about handmade things, too. At Christmas my house is full of handmade things. Here’s our living room from last year (I haven’t decorated yet this year). I knit the Christmas tree rug; the stockings on the mantle; the blanket on the chair.
And at Christmas I always knit gifts, too. Last year I made my husband a scarf, my son-in-law socks, and my daughters mittens. This year I’m busy knitting Katie a beautiful shawl to wear at her winter wedding over her wedding dress. And then I’ll finish my own shawl!
My girls knit, too. Katie actually designs her own dresses:
And Rebecca both knits and quilts, and is working on finishing a big quilt for her bed this Christmas.
They’re both trying to figure out super cheap Christmas gifts to give people, and Katie was fretting about her soon-to-be-inlaws. I told her to knit them scarves (Darcy, if you’re reading this, forget I said that!). People love beautiful handmade gifts, and then what we’re giving someone is a gift of our time and creativity. And it’s so personal that they will think of us when they wear it.
Handmade crafts give us the ability to both feel productive and creative AND bless others.
But there’s another aspect.
We can enjoy watching TV shows together. But we can never pass on TV shows, down generations, like we can productive hobbies.
I inherited some knitting that was done by my great-grandmother. She made these dresses for my mother (her granddaughter), and my mom wore them in the 60s. My girls wear them now.
Yes, you can do fun things with your family with a screen. But there is something unique about passing on a hobby that is actually a skill. You can pass that hobby down, teaching children different techniques, and, years later, a great-great-granddaughter can be reknitting a stitch based on something her ancestor, whom she never met, created.
I would not be the person I am without knitting. My family knits. That is what we do. My mom knits, my cousin knits, my aunt knits, my grandmother knits, my great-grandmother knits, and so on, and so on, and so on.
It is wonderful.
Modern life is both a blessing and a curse.
The ease with which we can meet our basic needs is such a relief compared to what the most of the world lives like today, or what our own culture lived like a century and a half ago. But it’s a curse, too, because it takes us that step away from the works of our hands.
So let me encourage you today: take up a hobby. Create something. Work with your hands. It doesn’t even have to be good; just do something! It gets you in touch with God’s creativity, I think, and it lends a rhythm and a beauty to our lives.
Now, what do you like to do? What relaxes you? Have you ever had that experience of feeling dissatisfied, largely because you haven’t been creative or productive with your hands for a while? Let’s talk in the comments!