A Commentary on Creativity

Creative-symphony

Melted crayons on a canvas show beauty and spontinaity

I help lead a Kid’s Club with my church on Fridays. I’m also in charge of crafts and that means coming up with new ideas every week for the kids to do, besides coloring pages. When we do coloring pages I realize that some kids (mainly the boys) do a few scribbles and then get “done” and want to go play while the girls tend to be more meticulous and add a splash of color, making it “just right”. My observation was this: these kids need to be challenged to be creative. Why is that so important anyways? I think it’s because God made us in His image:

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.” Genesis 1:26

He made us all to be creative, like Him. He created the world, and He created us. It’s kind of in our nature to want to create. It’s like a birthmark you can inherit from your parents– He’s given us a mark of beauty in us, a desire to create. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find my birthmarks embarrassing.  You have to grow into it and eventually you become proud of it because it doesn’t define you but it sets you apart in a very unique and simple way. So we all have inherited the birthmark of creativity from our heavenly Father.

The Rend Collective, a band from Ireland, totally sees and understands that God made us all with a longing to be creative like Him. They put it best in their song, “Desert Soul”:

//I’m lost without
Your creative spark in me
I’m dead inside
Unless Your resurrection sings//

In addition to this, my best friend found this amazing TED talk on creativity  that acknowledges that creativity is indeed God-inspired. So, in meditating on all of this, what does it mean for us to be “creative beings”? I believe creativity flows just like the Holy Spirit. So, when I see kids coloring and creating, I don’t have any real expectations for them to create anything magnificent that you typically see displayed at the MET, or something. But their work still has value. It’s the expression of God, that “creative spark” in all of our souls that makes us want to spread color and light and string and confetti all over a canvas, whatever it may be. We were born to express our souls with more than just words. It’s a release.

We don’t always feel the urge to create. Sometimes creativity doesn’t come out and we call it “artist’s block” or something like that. I don’t know why that happens. But I do know God supplies us with inspiration all around. We should be filters of that beauty– that’s why people create. We want to break it down into manageable chunks and show the world our snapshots of the beauty going on all around us. For me, being an artist is being a filter. Sometimes nothing comes out, but that doesn’t mean something is necessarily wrong. Often times there are things that block the filter but they just may need to be broken down a bit more before the water can really “flow”. Artists also are charged with the challenge to filter beauty and make the important things stand out. It is a high calling and a conviction brought onto us by the grace of God. It is a high calling to speak the truth and speak it boldly– so take heart, artists! Your calling is a high one, and often difficult, but so necessary for healthy life.

Jesus Doodle

The Pantocrator of Jesus, doodled in kid’s markers

That picture of Jesus (Pantocrator) is a doodle I did one night babysitting, when I had some spare time to sit and breathe. It just came out. But it also took some planning. I knew I wanted to doodle but I wanted to see what I could make with nothing but kids markers and construction paper. I knew I wanted to make something of beauty with very little resources. I wanted to create and be spontaneous but also have a plan. This is a different kind of creativity than the kind that flows like a child coloring a sheet of paper. It’s a challenge. It’s a story. It’s a snapshot of my heart in the moment. People can create just to create or they can refine it to reflect a truth that more people can understand. All of it is beautiful.

In saying all of this, creativity can be a choice– but if you choose to use the creativity God gave you, it will come out in the ways God made for you to express it. You can create whether you are a doctor, a teacher, a sunday school preacher; a mechanic, dentist, blacksmith apprentice (Yes I made all that rhyme, thank you very much) because God made us all to help people and bring something to the world that was previously not there before. That, my friends, is creativity in a nutshell.

Now for the fun part. What are some ways that you get inspired? When do you feel most challenged to create? Are you in need of some creative sparks right now? Not to be cliche, but the Bible is literally a great source of inspiration, and the scriptures always paint beautiful word pictures that uplift the soul. Try reading a Proverb or Psalm and see what happens!

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How to Relate to God & What Friendship Has Taught Me

There are always new things I find myself learning about God in daily circumstances. I see how His character is revealed in nature, in a moment, in a sunrise, the scent of something familiar, through class discussion, and especially through people. I’ve had this wonderful chance to have a best friend and learn more about the character of God because of this special blessing. Here are some few things I have learned about His character through my best friend and my friendships with others.

God is Relentless

As I listened to Hillsong’s Zion album and heard the lyrics that “[His] love is relentless”, I started to think of what that actually meant. My best friend and I just had a discussion about the ways that make us feel most loved; quality time came up big for us both. Since we live far away from each other, we don’t always get that. But Jesus loves us all the time. Relentlessly. He can spend unlimited amounts of time with us. He is always around and is surely not limited by time or space. I’m so thankful for that. I kind of wish I could love people extravagantly, all the time, like our God, you know? Here’s the song if you want to hear just how relentless His love is.

He Is the Best Listener

My best friend is really good at asking questions, and I am so thankful for that. I feel known when someone inquires about my life and when they ask me questions. I feel like, if God is so personal, wouldn’t he be asking me questions? “Diana, what do you think about me?” “What do you want me to give you today?” “How can we spend more time together today?” “Did you see that flower I made?”

And you know what? I want to ask Him questions too.

“Lord, why do you love me?” “I’m kind of anxious about X, Y, and Z… what are you saying about this?” “And how can I be wise with my time this morning?” “God, what do you think about me?”

Sometimes it’s hard to treat God like a person because we can’t see, touch, or feel Him the way we do with people. He listens to me all the time, but am I the one listening back? I can read His word and find out that He does speak to me through it… it’s like reading a love letter over and over again. I want to listen and I want to talk to God. Like I would with my best friend.

Jesus is Forgiving

If you are a living human being, chances are you have been hurt by someone, and hurt another person. If you are close to someone and hurt them, it hurts you too. Whenever I know I hurt my friends I know I want forgiveness right away because it hurts my heart to hurt them too. For humans, grace doesn’t come that easy– we have the Holy Spirit to lead us as Christians to forgive each other, but we also take the hurts we have felt in the past and weigh them in, too. God is the best at forgiving. He teaches me so much through my friends how to forgive.

One of the biggest learning moments in forgiveness I’ve had was when a good friend of mine got engaged and we all went to the lake. She gave her ring to me to put in her shoe on the beachy shore… and for a second I thought I lost it! She looked at me with a calm expression, and said “It’s okay, Diana– even if you lose it I will forgive you. I won’t hold it against you”, or something to that degree.  I had so much peace and honestly, I was shocked that she was so calm about it. It was her engagement ring!! She knew her treasure was in heaven and that loving a person was a bigger priority for her. in this way, I have seen God in a different way– just how much He really forgives us. I could do things much worse than lose a wedding ring, all the time, and still God casts those offenses away in a heartbeat, not even bringing it back up next time. he loves us, period: no strings attached.

God is a Jealous God

Okay. So we know jealousy is wrong, right? Sometimes I don’t understand why God says He is a “jealous God”… when He also says to not covet from a neighbor, and to not have jealousy or envy. James 3:14-16 says

” But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”

I can see how jealousy can be destructive. Sometimes we get jealous when people spend time with others and not with you… I might get jealous if I couldn’t spend time with my best friend even though I want to, and it happens vice-versa. It’s cause I wanna be with her and spend time with her too. So now I understand that God is jealous in the sense that He really, really, really wants to spend time with me and be the first person I run to and hang out with. He just wants me. And it makes me feel loved, and wanted.

I realize most of this sounds like a stretch and I’m not sure what’s theological or not about this, but all I know is that God is jealous of my heart and wants to spend time with me. Thank you, God, for wanting to spend time with me!

God Really Has Good Things For Me

A verse found in Romans 8:28 says,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy getting good things. Gifts from people show me they are thinking about me. I don’t usually care if it’s big or expensive, or anything really. A gift is a “good thing” for me, because it shows me love in a way that connects to my heart. One day my best friend had this craving for Cadbury eggs (since they came out promptly 2 months before Easter and all), and when i came over to her house she told me she got me one too, so we could enjoy them together. Just the fact that she thought of me and got me a little chocolate egg so we could enjoy it together touched me. And it was delicious.

So God has “good things” for us, right? I think that he just really loves us and wants to spend time with us, so He blesses people. There’s a lot of people touting the banner of “prosperity and health for you and your family”, but that’s not the Gospel. The Gospel is that we are broken people who try to find our own way and don’t know that this great person, Jesus, who is actually God, can bring us back to being complete people, free from fear and confusion and pressure, and can show us a better way to live and love. This is why I follow Jesus. He wants us to know that peace and freedom and, free of charge. He likes to bless His people because He loves us, not because we do anything “super good” or “deserving of anything”.

He Is Safe, and Knows What He is Doing

Weaving colors

Tapestry of color

I for sure feel like my life is being woven like a tapestry. Sometimes I see the vibrant colors He is weaving and when I don’t see the thread then, I sort of freak out. I don’t always know what I’m doing or where I’m going, and it feels dangerous and uncertain at times. My friend Faith is someone who has always seemed to know what she’s doing– she’s always certain where she’s going and how to get there, and can certainly follow through. At least that’s the impression I got whenever we were in London traveling together. I felt safe, like I could count on her to know where and how to get to where we were going. I’m not always the best with directions, you can certainly ask ANYBODY, and they will tell you I can’t navigate my way out of a paper bag. Although since London I have gotten better. There was this one time we were running through the streets of Camden and I felt sick and decided to take the Tube back. I got lost for half an hour… still, I made it back and Faith laughed.

So, in relating this to God, I really see that even if I don’t know the next step, He really does. In fact, He knows the B-I-G plan, and when He’s weaving something in my life I can’t see and can’t touch and I just have to have faith He’s leading me closer to Him in the end. In the process it’s scary and can hurt but in the end, I know there will be a small section of my life that’s actually a part of a bigger tapestry that I could never see. In the places I didn’t see Him weaving I know He was making something beautiful behind the scenes, or else making room for a new color. And have you seen the flip-side of a tapestry? It’s ugly and tangled and looks like a mess… and sometimes I find myself being on that side of the tapestry, unaware of what’s being woven on the other side. It’s all I can do to hand the needle back up to God, though I don’t know what the next pattern is, or where the string is going next or where it will end up.

I can’t wait to see the beautiful ending, to see the big picture in the end– and for now I’m so thankful to have amazing people in my life, like my best friend and my boyfriend and my family. These people are significant strings in my life and I’m so glad God chose them to be woven into my story. Glory and honor be to Him, the great Creator of stories!
photo credit: lovefibre via photopin cc