Grandiose Theories and Dead Clay

In the article below, Hannah talks about theorizing about the future versus actively creating, and the allurement of excuses.

‘I have something to say, I just haven’t figured out what it is yet.’

How these words can characterize so many of us!  Perhaps at one time or another you have felt similarly stuck: torn between the desire to create something or be something, but uncertain what exactly is the right fit.  How can we figure out what “it” is?

Everyone has a unique, God-made identity, made up of a multitude of personality traits and interests.  We are made to interpret our interests through creating, making, building and doing.  Regardless of whether these are in art, engineering, writing, science, or something more obscure, God gives us talent and enthusiasm about certain subjects for a purpose.  Everyone has an individual contribution that can be made, and we desire as a basic part of humanity to do things that are meaningful, rewarding, and involved in the creative act.  Also, there is a time and place for finding identity.

Yet, the difficulty for most of us lies in taking the step from searching for what we should do to doing it; from theorizing about possibilities to experimenting.  Our minds create lists of excuses for why we should stay in the former modes, even when the real sources of the thoughts are ridiculous.  For example, have you ever experienced thoughts like the following?

–  I want to write a book, but I can’t until I figure out what to write about.  It seems like every topic has already been exhausted by better authors.  What you’re really saying: What I have to say doesn’t really have value, does it?  If I don’t have a bestseller idea right this moment, why even write at all?

–  I can’t decide on a college major.  I need to make a lot of money, to do something that my family will be proud of, and that I can still enjoy.. and I need to figure this out RIGHT NOW.  What you’re really saying: God can’t give me a great future unless I enable Him.  If I don’t find the answers soon, my life will deteriorate into chaos!

–  I want to try out for this new opportunity, but I’m probably under-qualified.  I’ve never done it before.  I don’t have enough experience.  Nobody will want to hire me.  What you’re really saying: It’s not worth trying if I might fail.  Oh, and did I mention I have a comfort zone?  

The idea that we are victims of our excuses is a seductive one.  But, it is not one that is helpful in the move from envisioning the future to making it happen.  On this same subject, author Patti Digh of Life is a Verb quotes a woman as saying: “I’m so sick and tired of (people) saying that they need to find their voice.  I’ve heard that a million times.  I just have one question for you: If you did have a voice, what would you say?”  The differentiation she makes is between passively searching and actively creating.

Wow.  Wait a minute- if you did have a voice, what would you say?  Forget the excuses: the I-can’t, and the I-don’t-know.

If you could do something, what would you do?  If you could learn something, what would you learn?  If you could build, make, create, dream something, what would it be?  What would you become?  If there were absolutely nothing but your own excuses standing in the way of you accomplishing something amazing, what would that amazing thing be, and how would you do it?

Now imagine there were no excuses.

It can be easy to become fearful that if we make the move from passive theories to action, the product of our work will not turn out as well as it could if we spent more time speculating.  To this I add another quote from Patti Digh, which tells of an experiment conducted by the teacher of a pottery class:

“(the) teacher tells half his class they’ll be graded..on the quantity of the work they produce…The other half would be graded on quality, and need only produce one (perfect) pot..’The works of highest quality..were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.. while they were busy churning out piles of work- and learning from their mistakes- the quality group had.. little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.’ ”  In other words, those who focused on theorizing had much less to show for it than those who practiced, and continued to actively refine their craft.

Excuses get you grandiose theories and dead clay.  Actively participating in life with the talents and gifts that God has given you, even when the effort doesn’t result in immediate perfection, is what gives you quality.

No excuses.

To find out more about Hannah K., visit our writer’s page.

Art Credit: Pinterest


  1. Wanted to let you know I’m enjoying & being challenged by what I read here. Thanks for the time & effort given. Your work for Him is not in vain. Here in West Africa, God is turning my theories up-side-down & putting me to work for His glory. Thanks for the post!

    1. Sara, thank you for commenting! It really makes my day to know that God has been speaking to you through this blog. I pray that you will continue to grow, and thank you for visiting! =)

      ~ Hannah K.

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