On Failure and Creation

I have a small home-brew beer kit sitting downstairs in my basement. I bought it last summer off of Kijiji, which means it was used.

Once I got it home, I examined all the parts. The two-gallon fermenter, the measuring cups, the ingredients for a couple different beers. It turns out the ingredients expired in 2015.

To be fair, I don’t think the guy who sold me the kit realized the ingredients were expired, he just never used the equipment.

Fortunately, the only thing that can really expire (or at least in a reasonable timeframe) is the yeast. Since yeast is a fungus it dies pretty quickly if it’s not refrigerated.

Which means I have the ingredients downstairs waiting to be turned into delicious beer and all I have to do is go buy some yeast. We have a couple of stores in Halifax that specializes in home brewing, so it’s really not tough to get yeast. I could do it while running other errands.

But there’s another problem with my beer kit. Apparently, in its basic form, the kits produce a 3.5% alcohol beer rather than the standard 5% version. (My real lesson learned is to do some research before buying a beer kit on Kijiji.)

It’s not that I need a really strong beer, in fact, I find beer with too high of an alcohol content to be undrinkable, but if it’s too weak it doesn’t taste right. Really, 5-6% ABV (alcohol by volume) is about right. Something about mouthfeel? I don’t really know.

But that means that if I go get yeast from the store, I can use a packet (which as it turns out is just slightly more than what my recipes call for. Not enough to save it, just enough to give the beer a yeast taste) to make beer that’s slightly under a good ABV.

Now, it’s not that I’m unwilling to do this, but making beer takes time. We’re talking weeks.

Each step only takes about 30-60 minutes, but there’s a lot of waiting time in the middle while the yeast turns the sugar into alcohol.

And so, my beer kit sits in the basement. I kind of want to make it (if I didn’t, I’d just throw it out) but I’m also pretty sure the beer just isn’t going to be that good. And who wants to spend that kind of time on something they’re convinced is going to suck?

I think that’s one of the reasons why so many people choose consumption over creation. Creating something is hard work. It takes time and energy (mental, emotion, physical, spiritual, etc.). And why would you want to put that time and energy into something that’s going to be a failure?

Another reason so many of us choose not to create is that we’re worried about rejection. We feel like our creation is an extension of ourselves. In which case, if someone criticizes our creation, they’re criticizing us.

This is probably where I’m supposed to say something about how, if you’re a Christian, your identity should be found in Christ. But while that sounds nice, it’s entirely unhelpful when we’re talking about being creators.

It’s true that God’s love isn’t based on anything you do. You can’t earn it and by extension, you can’t lose it. But that doesn’t change the fact that all of us have an intrinsic desire to impact the world around us. If we got to the end of our lives and were told, “You have in no way whatsoever made any sort of positive impact on the people you interacted with. No one will remember you or care that you existed.”, I guarantee none of us would shrug that off and say, “Well, at least God loves me.”

Of course, God loves us. And that same God who created us, created us in His image, meaning with a capacity to love others. Love requires a subject. Love requires that there be someone to love.

I think that’s what creation is really all about. It’s about loving people and wanting to share something with them. It’s about using whatever you’re good at or passionate about to love those around you and make their lives more enjoyable.

So to be criticized, to be told that the thing you’re passionate about or the way you want to love the world around you is actually kind of terrible, naturally that’s going to hurt. No one wants to experience that and very few of us can brush off that criticism simply by saying “My identity is found in Jesus.”

Criticism hurts. Feeling convinced that your creation will be a failure before you even start is tough.

I don’t think there’s a magic fix here. There’s no special formula for getting over criticism and failure. Create anyway. Create in spite of the critics. Create even if you think it’s going to be a failure. Create and have the humility to ask for honest feedback from people who love you and want to help you improve.

Set SMART goals for yourself. Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Time-sensitive.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to brew one of the five beers in my kit by this time next week. That’s a specific (brew), results-oriented (brewing a specific beer), time-sensitive goal (by next week) that I can measure (did I brew it? Yes or no), that’s achievable since all I need to do is go buy yeast.

Also, for this blog, here’s my SMART goal. I’m going to publish two posts per week. On Tuesdays I’m going to post old sermons reformatted for easier reading and on Thursdays I’m going to publish new content.

That’s my attempt at creation, brewing beer and writing a blog.

What about you? What are you working on creating? Are there reasons why you avoid creating?

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