Something that I have been getting really passionate about lately… nope, I’ll rephrase that…. Something that has re-ignited my passion, reminded me of how deeply I am convinced, and has spent a lot of time on my mind and heart over the last year, is our cultural lack of respect for creativity in life, in education and in each other. It really gets my blood pumping, because time and time again, I meet with attitudes and opinions which are totally contradictory to the truth of who we are and how we were designed.
We are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore are ‘chips off the eternal block’. We are made in his likeness, which means that we are like him. Yes he is bigger than we are, but we have his good characteristics written into our DNA and that means that we are creative like him.
He created the universe and all that is in it – we have that breath of creativity in us, and to deny it, is to refuse to step into a fundamental part of who we are. It is also to refuse to believe that we are who God says we are, and to refuse to use our innate giftedness, for his purposes in building his kingdom, and drawing others into His love.
Instead we have swallowed the lie which wholly dis-empowers us to be who we are called to be, squashing our ability to impact the world with beauty, brilliance and truth, to change lives for the better. We end up believing that only people with obvious sporting or ‘artistic’ talent are truly creative. We are deceived into believing that the creativity and value of a human being is a quantifiable commodity, that if we cannot do something the way that everyone else seems to be doing it, or in the style or manner imposed on us, then WE must have a problem, be failures, be ‘less-than’ – THIS IS NOT TRUE!
As adults we have so many pressures on us, that it can be too easy to lose sight of the value of play. We feel that unless our activities and use of time produce something which is measurable in money or some other obvious and speedy ‘results’, it is time wasted. But we are made to breathe in rhythm with God, taking time to rest and enjoy what he has given us.
When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He introduced a sabbath day to them, in order to teach them that they were no longer slaves- that they were free and were no longer valued by what they produced, but because of who they were. He also introduced different holidays throughout the year to allow for times of celebration, solemnity and repentance – things which flow in and out of human existance – and which give the year an ebb and flow of rhythm. These festivals give us time to respect the seasons of our lives, finding hope that as one season ends, another will begin, or that a tough one will always lead to a time of rejoicing once more. This breeds a respect for the laws of seed time and harvest, which is important for our emotional and spiritual growth, reminding us that the only constant is God. But we are so often afraid to stop, to breathe – because we don’t know what will happen if we do.
What is even sadder to my mind, is the fact that we can inadvertantly communicate this same lie we are entangled in, to our children. Our education system still seeks to mould our babies into an image that is now defunct and outdated. We are no longer captains of industry in the same way that we were culturally in the 19th century, and our ‘global village’ needs more people who can think outside the box. But instead we still praise our kids for academic achievement more highly than for any other achievement, leading to the deep belief in the young hearts of our future generation of leaders, that to be different from this standard is wierd, unwanted, frivolous, pointless and ultimately to be suppressed and ignored, in favour of ‘living in the real world’. We have become afraid to let them be children too long, in case they have time to challenge this notion.
This totally misses the fact that we are made differently. We are each of us unique. There is no one else on the planet who can bring to the table exactly the same gifts, talents and perspectives that you or I can.
We were each of us placed and born for exactly this time, and God knows what he is doing.
Therefore why on earth do we think that we can neglect to see ourselves and each other in this way? Why do we insist that if someone can’t sit still or is bored in class that they must be a trouble maker or in need of behavioural drugs? If we were in a professional work environment we would be free to recognise that maybe we weren’t right for that particular job, and equally crucially IT wasn’t right for us… that the square peg and the round hole are not made for each other.
Perhaps our children need to be granted the same respect and dignity, and for us to recognise that maybe that class/teacher/task/activity/style is simply uninspiring. Our kids are not always in the wrong, sometimes they actually see more clearly than we do, only we are afraid to really look and admit that what we see may need to change. We are often afraid of that change because it will mean some kind of sacrifice or total u-turn in our thinking, and we are fearful because it is an unknown quantity.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
1 John 4:18 (NLT)
BUT before you assume that I dislike academics and think that our immature children and teenagers know everything, let me set the record straight. I think that we as adults have more experience and more working knowledge of the world than our children – we’ve been here longer. And I value academics highly- just not more than I value dance, drama and music. But we can fall into the trap of letting fear of the future and of not fitting in, override Godly wisdom in our decision making.
We need to look at what our purpose on this earth is, by asking God to give us his vision, trusting that discovering our gifts and talents will be what best shapes our path. We must champion that in our kids. Let’s loose the ‘get a good career’ mindset, and have fulfilling His purpose as our goal.
What inspires you? How do you think most clearly and easily? What are your hard-wired dreams and talents? These have been given to equip you to fulfil your destiny, and developing them will increase your joy, peace and deep sense of accomplishment.
We were made to work, but not to toil. To flow in his Grace, but not to be stressed. Obstacles will come in our work and relationships, but if we are moving within our sphere of influence and design, they will be easily overcome. Jesus died to bring us freedom from the lies and snares of the enemy. HE offers us peace that the world cannot give us and he calls us into abundant life in Him. He alone can speak with authority about who we are to be- we are free from worrying about jumping through all the ‘official standard hoops’ the world demands of us, telling us who we ‘should be’. The Law demands, but Grace supplies – and his grace is enough.
If maths or physics inspires you – chase it. If you can’t sit still – dance or run or spend all your time on your feet outdoors. If living and breathing books, ignites your curiosity – make the library your second home, and if you like nothing better than to simply play – then play your way into an innovative, world-changing company who needs your innate ability to discover – or become an actor/parent/work with children. Just refuse to settle for less than God’s best for your life – he wants you to dream with him.
If you don’t fit the same round hole as everyone else around you- you are not a pain, there isn’t something wrong with you – you are just wired to offer something different to that group. Find some people who are a simillar shape as you to encourage you.
Besides, just as God is in relationship with himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so are we designed to be in relationship with him and with each other. We are designed to pool our skills and talents, so that where we lack something, we lean on someone else who has what we don’t and vice versa. AND we are far more successful when working interdependently with one another.
So let us allow ourselves to play and discover just how creative we are. Let us give each other permission to be who God designed us to be and not expect everyone to be formed in our image. In doing this, we will be a far more beautiful and honest witness to God’s love, and to the true freedom that comes from living in Him.