Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage.”
Courage runs in short supply with me. I am much less brave outwardly, than I am in my own head.
But like anything else, creativity can be practiced. It’s like a muscle we have that when unused, turns slack.
At first, the slow stretching is painful–perhaps messy. In the quiet moments of loosening our self-imposed discipline, freeing up our hearts to beat a bit faster, old wounds sometimes crop up. The swirling of a certain color on the page can remind us of a loved one, now gone. The smells of bread baking or the act of chopping apples for a pie catapult us backward into the attic of our mind, leading us to comb through the cobwebs of forgotten days, both the delightful and the ones we’d just as soon forget — forever.
Creativity is an act of bravery– not one reserved for those already brave.
For my birthday, a dear friend made me this art journal. Her willingness to create something as a gift took momentous bravery–I wonder if she worried about how I would like it (or not). I wonder, as she sat detailing the beauty of it’s cover, if she ever considered something less original and more pedestrian as a gift. Those gifts are certainly safer.
To offer up your art to someone, to many someones–to the world even, takes a fierce act of bravery, a wild willingness to face whatever the response may be. A willingness to handle rejection; the humility to handle tremendous praise.
The other day during a discussion with a friend, I referred to myself as a “creative” as in, I said “I am a creative.” I owned my creativity–without excuse or apology.
For years I have allowed the demons of comparison and fear to steal the joy of embracing my creative side.
Because I don’t paint like her, I am not an artist.
Because my writing isn’t as good as his, I won’t submit an article to that magazine.
I have a habit of closing doors in my own face, to prevent the sting of others doing it.
But as I begin to flex my creative muscles, the further I am willing to stretch (even if it stings), the more I see the beauty of creativity–not just the beauty of it, but the gift of it.
This morning my middle boy tried to tell me he wasn’t creative. This boy, who invents mythical animals and builds Legos without instructions, this child who paints and sculpts and cuts and pastes, dared to denounce his own creativity because of what? Because his art doesn’t hang in the Louvre? Because he’s “only 7,” as if age is somehow a qualifier of creativity.
I looked him square in the face and told him, he absolutely is creative. This wasn’t sufficient. He needed more confirmation, he wanted me to name his gifts.
At the end of my list I gave him the greatest qualifier of all, and now I want you to hear it. Because of all the reasons you are creative, and for all of the reasons you insist you are not, this is for you:
You are God’s art. As an image bearer of your Father in heaven, you too, are a creator.
“Creativity is not about what you can do or what you’re good at. Creativity is a response. It’s a way of worshiping God and who He is, a way of worshiping His infinite beauty and love.” Who Am I? (And what am I doing here?)
Our creativity is only limited by our own ability to embrace this truth about who we are, as intentional individuals created by the Master Creator God — So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
The truest measure of our creativity is whether or not we exercise it.
Are we willing to respond to God’s glory by fearlessly reflecting it back to the world?
Will we bravely create something that speaks to the beauty and majesty of our King-Creator?
Each of you has received a gift to serve others (1 Peter 4:10 NCV)
The question is not, “Are you a creative?” The question is simply, “How will you use your gifts of creativity?”
During September at Living the Story, we explore the theme Create. Next Monday, September 30th, author Emily Freeman of Chatting at the Sky, joins us with her story, an opportunity for bloggers to link-up, and a giveaway of her new book, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live. We hope you’ll join us in the comments for a chance to win and share your stories with us on how the word Create speaks to you.
Kris – this was so good – and it made me surprisingly emotional. You have raised some questions inside that have never honestly surfaced until the way you so eloquently penned them…I need to chew on this.
Sometimes, the idea of “art” or creativity as worship befuddles me…I’ve always had a creative side, but I often shrink back from it. I think this may coincide with some other lessons I’m learning about grace vs. the law. (Though I love and crave grace, I can tend to be a law-clinger…yikes!) I’ve realized that I’ve often had the view that anything enjoyable for me personally (even if it’s hard) is somehow fleshly and wrong. It feels selfish, especially in motherhood. And yet, when I don’t move in it, I start to feel stagnant and cagey. I don’t know if that makes any sense. It’s been difficult for me to flesh out in my own life. I am realizing that I’ve replaced His truth with truth of my own, and prying it out is messy. Thank goodness for the Word that is a sharp sword. And for creatives like you to bring art as worship – you paint a word picture that brings another facet of truth reflecting His heart! Thank you 🙂 Love you!
I think you make such a good point, Ashlie. So much of allowing ourselves to be creative feels like rule breaking–even if they are our own rules. We’ve set so many parameters up in our heads and hearts about what art looks like, or what qualifies as good art. And yet, this weekend, as I watched my daughters paint, they enjoyed the simple act of swirling color. There was no doing it right, there was only doing it. I think with worship, this is often true, we decide that certain forms of worship are good and right and others not so, but when we are willing to creatively respond to the love of our Creator, and it looks like dance in the middle of a traditional worship service, perhaps we shouldn’t feel the need to reign it in…. I could talk a long time about this, but I should mainly say, thank you for your thoughtful response, and I am so thankful for the ways you challenge me! XO
What a powerful (and exciting) final question! Thank you, Kris.
p.s. the images in this post are beautiful
Thank YOU, Christie. your encouragement is a blessing. I have so much still to learn about the art of photography, but I know that when I play with my camera, I experience complete joy. That is a gift, right?
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LOVE this, Darlene. Thank you!!
Oh, Kris, thank you for these words of life and truth. I wish I’d understood this concept many years ago, but it’s a journey, isn’t it? This is great: “Creativity is an act of bravery– not one reserved for those already brave.” So often I’ve felt like I had to summon up something special to create, but yes, it is an act of faith in our Creator-King to trust him with the process and “outcome,” believing that as an act of worship and a reflection of his glory, “it is good.” Thank you, friend.
Ashley, you know, I have also wished I “got” this years ago, but I didn’t and I am making peace with that because ultimately, God knew when I would finally understand this, or at least begin to, and I have to trust His timing. I am so thankful for you, and your sweet encouragement!
Kris- Thank you for giving your voice to the cry for us to embrace our created selves…I too have been on a journey of courage and joy as I play in the art room and the blogosphere with words and paint and photos…any form of creative expression that reflects the Master Creator as you so well put it…I am teaching an art class this week to a room of eight creative seekers…I am praying that they will embrace their created self and call themselves unabashedly creative as you are doing today! my newest creative endeavor is called souldare…check out my website: souldare.com
love it, Kel. So thankful for women like you who come along and teach others how to embrace this creative side, who encourage us to just let go… 😉
So very true, Kris. We all have the capacity to create. I love how you named your son by who he IS, not just what he DOES. Oh, it’s never too early to teach them to see themselves thru God’s eyes – not comparison’s – what a gift you are giving him.
Thank you for this clarion call to courage. I love the way you think, friend.
Thank you for your sweet words, Kelli. I am making a serious effort to teach my kids about who they are in Christ. I didn’t embrace this truth until long after I had grown up, and I have seen how powerful it is, knowing that our purpose isn’t dependent on our abilities. So thankful for how you cheer me on!
This is really so good Kris, I especially perked up when I read this:
Creativity is an act of bravery– not one reserved for those already brave.
Through my life I always thought that creativity and art and writing was only that when it was done well, written by some fabulously well known author or painted to perfection. I only recently began making art (I still don’t say “creating art” hmmmm), and the more I do it the better I become. Not just because of practise, but also because I have become to understand the God is right there beside me while I am making whatever it is…like a parent enjoying the gifts of His child. It changed my mind about creating. And I now want to be “brave” enough to tell my story without comparing myself to the “good” story tellers! This helps. Lots! Thank you Kris, for being willing to speak your heart!
Margo @ Legacy of a Single Girl
Cheering you on Margo. You are brave, and your story needs to be told. 😉
How this tugged on my heart. Too long I have turned my back on my creativity. I need to get quiet and find an answer to your question…to find out how I’ll use my gift. I want to finally own this truth.
I hope you will carve out the time, Pamela. It truly is worth exploring. Praying for you!
Kris – BEAUTIFUL post. I resonate with this: “I have a habit of closing doors in my own face, to prevent the sting of others doing it.”
I’m spending 2013 learning to do collage and mixed media art because that’s what “everyone else” is doing, even though my favorites are realistic oils or pencil sketches. It’s taken me til about now to say it’s okay to be me, and when these classes are over (hubby says go ahead and quit) I will go back to painting birds and flowers.
Tanya @ Hooked on Jesus http://www.tanyalogan.com/blog
Oh Tanya, yes. I have done things before because “everyone else was doing it” and every time I have felt the hollowness of those pursuits. I am happy to hear you will return to your love of painting birds and flowers. 😉
Oh, these are needed words. It is such a tender place, this place where our art takes root. We need to speak this kind of truth into each other’s lives on a regular basis. Thank you, Kris.
Thank YOU Laura for encouraging me. I agree, we Do need to hear this again and agin–myself included.
There is so much God is trying so show me, and I still cannot see clearly. But your words confirm so much. There are un-lived parts of me. But it’s coming time. God is awakening them. But not within my agreement. And at this, I’m not feeling like the brave one. He’s been patient so far. But it’s getting nearer. Release is coming.
I love the way you say this–I see the awakening happening in you–I cannot wait to catch up. You inspire me to go deeper into His presence. Thank you!! Love you, sweet friend.
Love this Kris! Such truth, and such a huge thing for so many, myself included, who struggle with it. Creativity is a part of who we are, whether we like it or not. As you said, it’s up to us as to what we do with it.
I sat stuck on the idea of culling through the memories sparked by a smell or sight… Beautiful words, as always Kris – but was made my own heart beat a bit faster was your direct challenge to remember that we are God’s art. Oh! To remember that in reflect it in each thing we attempt to create is The Goal.