The other month I got out some chalkboard pens. Still sealed in their packaging, they had been sitting in my cupboard for over a year. I opened the package and thought, today is the day I finally use these. I ignored the housework and stood in the hallway writing out a little saying on my hallway chalkboard while my kids were running up and down the halls. It was simple, and maybe silly to some, but I felt very content. There was this joy and calmness that inhabited this little time I spent carefully writing out letters in a new way, to make words that meant something special to me.
There is a special satisfaction I get when I am creating rather than constantly consuming. Consuming food, media, words, music, data, newsfeeds. Instead, I get the release, the output of myself into the world, the creating. When I take the time to create something I feel more content in my surroundings. I feel respect for the things that have been created for me. I feel excited that I am using my brain and hands out of their normal routine. I feel grateful that God created the world, and created me, and gave me (us!) the gift of creativity.
A few days ago I had a conversation with my mom besties. They are fantastic women who span the range of non-dreamers to bigger-than-life dreamers. Some of them feel restless in life, no real clear path on how to use their capable hands and winsome thoughts. Then some of them have this ladder before them, with all the purposeful rungs clearly labeled. We got to talking about being at these various places in our ‘creative lives’ and all having that same hunger in our hearts. That hunger to create. We made a plan to have a ‘create date’. So next week, we will all meet up and talk about gallery walls and painting furniture and whatever other creative desires we have been ignoring or talking ourselves out of. We will bring something to make, anything. Because we are ready to try anything. We are ready to paint something, build something, write something, cook something, decorate something – just create beauty and function in our own world. We are all ready to make use of this gift of creativity.
EVERYONE IS CREATIVE
Creativity is a word that is often assigned to arts and crafts. When we look at ‘creativity’ with a wider angle, we see that creating is happening in countless ways. It looks different for everyone. Dancing, cooking, growing, conversing, writing, organizing, painting . We use our bodies, our hands, our minds, our mouths and we can create spaces, conversations, communities, art, food, furniture, experiences, cars, or spreadsheets. Anytime you take an idea and use your abilities to make it a physical reality, you are creating. Everyone is creative.
CREATED TO CREATE
What happens when we create things? On the surface, we are keeping busy and (maybe) producing something useful. On a deeper level, we are fulfilling another piece of who God made us to be. He is The Creator. He created the world, then he took the dust of this world and made man. Then he took man and made woman. He created beauty and life where there was nothing. He is the Creator and we are made in his image, we are creators too.
Many of us can see this inheritance of ‘creativity’ right from our parents. Maybe your mom sewed or sang while cooking in the kitchen. Maybe your father planted gardens or told animated stories. Parents who create raise kids who create. We can’t overlook that ‘creative’ is a trait of our Father God and he has passed that onto all his children.
FEAR OF CREATIVITY
Some of us avoid ‘creativity’ under the guise of phrases like ‘I’m not creative’ or ‘I’m not artsy’. Perhaps if we dig a little deeper we see the fear of being lost. You have to surrender yourself when you are creating, especially if you are new at it. You can’t secure your hand with the confidence that whatever you are doing will be Pinterest worthy. But getting lost and being in new territory is a good thing. When you allow yourself to get lost in the act of creating things, then along the way you will unearth bits of who God made you to be.
Fear comes in when we measure our output with ‘worldly success’ and feel we can’t meet this standard. We should shift the act of creating from being about our own skills and results, to an act of gratitude and worship. We should pursue ‘creating’ because it is a gift we are given from the Creator. We must do it in reverence to the one who made us, rather than with reverence to all that we can make. Worship the Creator, not the creation.
PERMISSION TO CREATE
Children are the most creative beings around. My daughter often takes things like a paint brush and a kleenex and tucks the paintbrush under the tissue like it is a baby. She can find a whole world of fairytales in the shadows on the wall, and makes up quirky songs while walking through the woods. When we were kids, I’m sure most of us were like this too. We all had permission and freedom to be reckless and explorative with our imagination. Then at some point, we were told that imagination is best left in childhood. Or, perhaps we rescinded the permission to create – our imagination made us look foolish and we shelved it in the back of our hearts.
How sad that suddenly this gift of creativity goes from the foundation of our daily lives to lying dormant because it is chalked up to being frivolous, immature or not good enough. Our modern culture has put limits on what is considered worthy of our time and efforts to create and we have bought into it. We have to give ourselves permission to create, in a world where permission has been rescinded once we hit our late teens.
It is time we reclaim our gift to create. Not because our creation will be worth money, or considered ‘successful’. Not because it will be trendy or look good in a filtered square image, and not because we are so wildly talented at it – but because we are imaginative women with capable hands and winsome thoughts and our hearts find a special rest and energy when we create – as we were created to.
Write out a list, a brain dump, of all the little and big things that you would like to create. They can be as silly as doodling an animal, and as grand as building a community garden. Keep this list posted somewhere you will see it daily, like your kitchen or bathroom. Then work away at crossing things off. Bit by bit, make creating a part of your daily life. Why not even host a ‘Create Date’ with your friends!? Then join us on Instagram using the hashtag #createifcreated and share anything you have made, big or small! Let’s reclaim the gift of creativity together!