Creativity is one of those things we often get into a bit of a muddle about.
We assume that there are ‘those creative people’ who can paint, sing, dance, act, sew, write music and novels or design, decorate and throw amazing themed parties as creative, but somehow neglect to place ourselves in that category.
“Oh, I’m not creative.” And
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” are phrases I hear a lot of people say to me.
It’s NOT TRUE.
I am an actress and singer, and I write poetry and dance and re-organise the rooms in my house on a regular basis – so ‘obviously‘ that’s why I am creative.
NOT TRUE EITHER.
We are made in the image and likeness of a creative God.
The God who created the universe, has written himself into our DNA, therefore, we cannot help but be creative. We reflect him in our creativity and in the way he gave us his authority over all of nature. We are beautiful. We are creative.
‘Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.’
We just need to get past our wrong thinking, stop telling ourselves we don’t qualify for the creative category, and understand that expressions of creativity are as varied as there are people. Because to be flowing in our creativity is to live in freedom.
To do this we need to re-discover (or sadly in some cases discover)
the joy and fruitfulness of play.
As children, we spend hours and hours simply playing and exploring the world, and through this serious and attentive play, we make huge discoveries about life.
It is through this process that we learn to problem solve and often come up with some highly original solutions to the challenges we face.
Anyone who has spent some good quality time with children as they play, will have seen that the ‘answers’ they frequently come up with, are often utterly different from the ones we may have suggested.
In fact, if we are brave enough not to interfere, allowing them the space to find their own solutions, we may well learn something quite extraordinary about them as people; about an alternative way to navigate obstacles; and a sense of joy and humour in the approach.
They are hugely imaginative and wildly creative, which can lead us to a realisation that perhaps, we are have got very stuck in our thinking.
So what, in the leap between childhood and adulthood, changes this?
Often it’s a sense of fear about getting things wrong. We no longer value or find anything like the same opportunities to play in our adult lives, and as we see the stakes rise in all of our endeavours, money, bills, family responsibility and relationships, we are left with little, if any, margin for error.
This fear that if we make a mistake, that the world (or at least our portion of it) will fall apart, renders us completely impotent, unable to move in any direction.
So we stick to what we know. Or stick to the status quo, convincing ourselves that as long as we don’t rock the boat, we will tick along just fine, and be happy.
And when, as is the case with becoming stagnant, we start to recognise the stink of discontentment – we convince ourselves and others that this idea of being fulfilled and excited by life, is a foolish myth. We convince ourselves that we have the problem on the inside, and that it couldn’t possibly be something on the outside needing to change.
How many thousands of us give up on our dreams, because life just seemed to throw too many curve balls and swallowed us up in it’s repetetive hum-drum?
We were made for SO much more than this.
Yes, God intended for us to work, because as you will have noticed, if we are continually idle supposedly free to do anything, accountable to no one, we become bored, and listless. And depressed and unfocussed, we are prone to making far more stupid and selfish choices with our lives, than if we were occupied in a worthwhile pursuit.
But God didn’t intend for it to stress us out, leaving us bored and frustrated. He never meant for us to put in hour after hour of effort, and get no joy in return. He is the God of LIFE. The word in Greek is zoe.
God breathed his zoe Life into us, which isn’t the breath of mere existance, but of vitality and exuberance, power and enthusiasm.
The truth is that God designed us with a specific purpose to fulfil in the building of His kingdom, and He has written everything into our make up that we need to succeed. He never intended us to toil and drudge our way through life, living only on scraps of joy and inspiration.
‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.’ Genesis 1:28-30
On the contrary, God intended Adam (and Eve) to be fruitful and multiply – so they had to have plenty of time to enjoy each other enough to make a family.
And then they would need plenty of overflow in the food department to feed the nations that God had intended them to parent. They could hardly end up in the position of a lack provision, or be drained, depressed and disinterested, if they were to fulfil their God-given destiny.
No, God gave Adam and Eve work to do, so that they could have the privilege of participating in his plan to build and grow his kingdom on earth.
The only reason it became a stressful toil, was because sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, choosing to be in charge of their own destinies.
They claimed the responsibility of fulfilling them, and very quickly discovered that, cut off from the source of all life, they weren’t very good at it. They chose to put an immense pressure on themselves that God never intended them to have to deal with.
How many of us do the same thing everyday?
lnstead of getting angry with those who dare to suggest that dreaming, and pursuing dreams for life is a viable and good option – condemning them as frivolous, deluded and inexperienced in the ways of the world – maybe we need to look at where the anger or frustration is coming from.
We need to ask ourselves if we are trudging a path that doesn’t fulfil us. And ask ourselves why we don’t change it, what is it that we are afraid of.
We need God to show us the root of our fear, and then ask him to remove it and free us from it’s hold. He, through the power of the cross and resurrection has freed us from anything and everything that does not lead to life, but unless we allow him to work that out in us, by surrendering our control, we will not walk in that hard won freedom.
There is always a place to begin.
That may mean a dramatic change – such as finally quitting that job which is depressing and making you ill, or doing something hugely bold to shake you out of your comfort zone – like a sky dive.
Or it may mean starting an art or photography course you always liked the idea of, but were too afraid to try. Or taking your shoes and socks off and standing in the rain for ten minutes. Walking through some puddles on your way back home to get dry. Or simply putting on a favourite piece of music, and dancing like a loon around your kitchen, in whatever manner best pleases you, regardless of what anyone might think. Just have some fun.
For me – I’ve begun songwriting again.
Not as dramatic as it sounds, but definitely exciting, I simply allowed myself to write a few of lyrics, as a beginning, and found that the words flowed.
I have always wanted to write and record an album, but have never felt that anyone would be interested. Despite knowing that I am an excellent singer and highly creative, and even that people generally seem to enjoy hearing my voice, I have allowed myself to only really sing at church, because I’m afraid of being rejected elsewhere.
Because of fear, I’ve been allowing the enemy’s voice to rob me of this dream – by getting me to believe that I am disqualified from it because I am a full time mother/out of the acting and performance loop/it is a closed shop and nobody wants to know. But these are not the life-giving words from the one who made me, but lies of the enemy.
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ John 10:10
So, last night I spent a fantastic two and a half hours being creative with a new friend. He plays piano and writes music and lyrics, and I sing, write lyrics and can hear melody. It was collaborative and I went home buzzing. It was the first time we had worked together, but we had fun and made something with real potential and beauty.
I have some friends who have recently set up a record label. It has got to be worth calling them up to see if they are interested in any of my ideas.
They might not be, but what have I got to lose?
The joy I have had in these last few days, from teaching a talented young singer to release his voice (through playful, and what I can only guess he describes to his mum, as crazy but surprisingly helpful methods) – to getting to do a little bit of filming for a charitable organisation with whom I am involved - to creatively jamming with someone new, has left me feeling more alive and more truly myself, than I have in some time.
All because I allowed myself to play.
So I challenge and encourage you to listen to that small, nagging voice inside that wont let go of you, and take a step towards one of your dreams.
And if you have to dig six feet under to find the dream you buried, it is worth the effort.
To allow our dreams to become a reality, we will often need to sacrifice in the short term, but only where appropriate and certainly not forever. The hardest challenge is not giving them up. And when you have a God who can dream bigger than you could even begin to imagine, you are in the best company.
‘But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” ‘ 1 Corinthians 2:9