“To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.”
I am grateful God has given me a talent for making ceramic art, and that He instilled a passion in me for making at a very young age. But this gratitude hasn’t always been so strong. Even though I don’t remember life without a passion for making, I have still doubted that my talent can be used for good, and it’s this doubt that almost kept me from pursuing my passion for creating art entirely.
After graduating from a rigorous college prep school, I was clouded by the comparison game. Most of my peers were going into pre-med, pre-law, and engineering. I felt that I would be wasting my education if I pursued visual art in college. Although it was a lifelong passion, I doubted my skill and felt that it wasn’t a way to really help anyone, do any lasting good, or support myself or a family. I perceived my talent as less than, and acted as the third servant in the parablewho buried his talent in the ground.
It wasn’t until my Junior year of college that I applied to the ceramics major. I finally began to pursue my God-given talent and passion to create art. I was two years behind my peers, but by God’s grace, that didn’t get to me, and my passion grew quickly for the medium. It was a blessing that God led me to this degree and provided time and funding for me to complete it. Ceramics has led me to a sustainable career that I enjoy and (despite my doubts) to ways to serve God’s people. Though I still struggle with doubt at times, I’m so grateful that God continually confirms that he “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think...”
Time and again, God has opened doors to ways that my gift could be of service to others. About two years ago, I was blessed with the task of creating communion ware for City Church. I’ve had several opportunities to teach ceramics with underserved communities in our city including children of refugees, students at underserved schools, and temporarily displaced international women pursuing education at VCU. Working in art also exposes me to a mostly secular community, challenging me to share my faith with others. God teaches me about Himself through the people I come into contact with, as well as through the process of making with clay. Because the slightest misstep can ruin a piece, ceramics is a very humbling practice. I’ve learned so much about not coveting my creations—about patience and grace. I’ve learned to love the imperfections of handcrafted works as they remind me of my own brokenness and that we are only made perfect in Christ. I’m constantly in awe that God, the Creator, keeps working on us, molding us, teaching us, and through it all, reveals more of Himself to us.
If I had listened my doubts eight years ago, I wouldn’t have heeded to His call to share a God-given talent with fellow image bearers. I believe that God takes joy in giving us gifts and talents so that we might benefit the world with them and ultimately glorify His name. I have learned to trust God with the talents He has given me. I pray that He would help me be a good steward of these gifts and that He use them for the good of His kingdom.
(Written by Claire Parrish)