Everyone has an incredible story and message to share. I want to allow my blog to be a place where others can share that message. Through First Friday Features and guest posts, I hope to create a community of creators who share that story that is burning inside their chest. Without further ado, my friend Heidi Melo.
Hello friends! My name is Heidi Melo, and I’m a human being who enjoys what the process of writing and drawing has taught me. I write a blog (occasionally), called A Million and One Thoughts, and Lillian is a talented friend of mine I got to meet a few years ago at my first writing conference. Lillian is a creative soul and I love seeing her pour her heart out in what she makes. Since I’ve been asked to just share whatever is on my heart today, I thought I’d talk about learning. I’m currently attending college, studying Community Art and English, and I’m processing what my faith has to do with the learning and creative process (emphasis on process).
Here’s a hard reality: when we’re focused on curiosity more than the application of what we learn, the process of learning is so much toil for so little yield.
Think about it. When you’re studying things like history or math, you occasionally think to yourself “When the heck am I going to ever use this in my life?” But when it’s something you enjoy learning, the work— or rather the process—feels less like work. You may even find ways to slip it into daily life. Sometimes that need to learn about something constantly in different facets of life brings trouble, and sometimes it’s there for a reason. I used to doodle on the margins of my homework growing up, and deep down, felt a longing to doodle the rest of my life.
Will I be scribbling as a job after college? God alone knows.
I have curiosity. But aside from maybe making learning about art into a lucrative career, on a philosophical level, why does a knowledge about the arts even matter to humanity as a whole?
When it comes to learning in faith, I think it’s a similar process. I noticed, over my winter break during my first semester at college that I really missed having time to be in my Bible…and whenever I reached for a heady (but fun) book on faith or creativity, I felt the difference compared to when I reached for my Bible. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the content of the stories. It was the exhaustion from the surrounding ideas and questions to complex things when all my soul really wanted was the Bible—moreover, my soul wanted the presence of God to be tangible again in the heart and the head. I don’t say this to sound spiritual either. Far from that—I’m saying I was stuck in my head, ignoring what was needed to change and heal the twisted parts of myself.
So then comes along a challenge: God wresting away the insatiable desire to achieve an identity through learning and worshipping my intellect and others’ perception of it. Lately, I’ve been wondering about if I should study to become a professor or something else impressive. Why? Because I don’t know whether my art could pay the bills, and because I’m passionate enough about art and faith that I’d like to write and study them together.
But in the throes of reading about faith and art in and outside school, or daydreaming about the title “Professor Melo,” I’m noticing myself losing sight of why I care about art and faith so much. I don’t think that learning is a sin, but learning for the sake of learning can become an aimless hunger, leading us to pride. Often, we want to prove ourselves beyond our capabilities, so as to impress those mentoring us. But learning means knowing you don’t know a lot, or at least that you still have more to soak up for applying to your prior intake. It draws you closer to your mentors and fellow pupils in classes, the workplace, and in mentorships. Even when you disagree with the teachers because of a strong conviction, you still should willingly learn why you actually disagree. Learning means you must embrace your neediness so that God might turn it around to bless others and bring you nearer to Him.
Where do we put all the knowledge we gather? It’s incredibly impractical to carry a thousand thoughts in your arms…and not just because you won’t have room for more. It’s easy to drop and fracture one or forget an important one as you reach for another.
We cannot be knowledge-greedy.
The best cure for greed is to give freely what we have that’s of value. The cure for pride is to be vulnerable. Both those things are realized in the study and sharing of Scripture and the practice of prayer.
As I sit down to study my Bible, I’m beginning to ask the Lord to fill me up. Because in reality, I’m an empty cup if I have not love (1 Corinthians 13), and my love is always going to be flawed. Since human love is flawed and God exemplifies His perfect love in both grace and discipline, we must look to Him as the ultimate Teacher and we must be willing students and children. Running along the walls of my college in fragmented phrases (with letters cut into each square piece) are salvaged wood panels that spell out the verses of 1 Corinthians 13. They’re a reminder that whatever is learned means nothing if we have not love and dwelling with God in our application. We have to recognize the need for wisdom—a discerned, applied knowledge—in how to love others and change under God’s hand with the things we learn.
Maybe I will be a professor one day, pouring into students. Maybe I will be just an artist, reliant on God to provide the finances, community, and inspiration where needed. I could be a barista. Or maybe I’ll just go live under a bridge. God only knows. God only knows, and God will be present in every unknown. He’s waiting for us to ask and to meet Him. Presently, I know I’m led to love God, because I know He’s loved me first, in hard and good ways. And He loves you too, reader. Let Him teach you about it.
Until Next Time,