I am not an artist.
During my childhood years, I stayed as far away from art as I could. I grew up as a first born child, who was endowed with a perfectionist, high achieving spirit (which I am now in my older years recovering from, by the grace of God). I couldn't make my pictures look like someone else's, I got poor grades in the class, and so it never became something I aspired to, and in truth it became the very opposite.
Later, in life, I learned that creativity is not limited to art, but includes expressions of our thoughts in writing, song, and among many other methods. Our creativity is expanded, and becomes a way we share with the world our heart, and our learning. For those who struggle with perfectionism, doing something creative is really hard. We desire to accomplish something with a tangible, concrete result; in contrast to something difficult to measure, left to interpretation.
My writing has been that for me. Pieces of me practicing my creativity, sharing my life, my thoughts, and my heart with you. It's a hard journey, for certain. Yet, rewarding in the peace that comes when I trust God has a purpose and intention in my surrender.
Picking up Andrew Peterson's book "Adorning the Dark," I thought would help encourage me in my creative journey, and I am glad to say that it has. He writes the book to share his personal journey as an author, songwriter and believer, to come alongside us, sharing insights from his journey, to help spur us on towards deepening our walk with God through our creativity, whatever that may be for us.
Here are 3 reminders from his book, that encouraged me, and, I hope, will encourage you.
1. Creativity is a Risk
What happens when you put your creation out there for the world to see? It's a risk. The song you wrote, the blog post, the Etsy shop, it all entails uncertainty...will anyone like it??
It's scary. It stops us sometimes from doing something bold and stepping out in faith.
He writes, "If you wait until the conditions are perfect, you'll never write a thing. It's always a matter of the will." This is also a risk. Our creativity also has a cost, which often is our time. We invest in the time it takes to share and develop something, without knowing what the return will be.
What would it look like to surrender our fears, our own insecurities, and to use our gifts, trusting that the words, the expression, the visual appeal will rest in the hands of the Lord; that as we prayerfully, and intentionally create, He will be the one to bring fruit of our efforts - whether that is to the masses, or in our own soul.
It's a journey of faith, of learning trust and dependance.
2. Creativity is About Serving
"If I wanted to quit, someone was there to look me in the eye and tell me my songs mattered, to them if not to the masses. Art nourishes community."
It's not easy to slug through the work of creating something, only to wonder if it was worth it. We need to remember that our finished products serve someone. Instead of grandiose imaginations of what could be, can we be content to serve one person? Can our impact be small in the eyes of the world, and yet successful in the eyes of the Lord?
We surrender ourselves for the sake of others. We look not just to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phillipans 2:4). Creating is about serving someone, bringing someone else closer to the Lord through an avenue that God has given us. When we keep our eyes on love for others, our perspective changes to see the value in service.
3. Creativity Glorifies God
Peterson reminds us of the famous runner, Eric Liddell, when he says that he feels God's pleasure when he runs. Using our creative gifts will often give us that sensation of pleasure, those moments of knowing that this is what we were created for. Our gifts, our competence, our joy, brings glory to God.
God's faithfulness to us knows no bounds. Whether we are large, or small in the eyes of the world, we are large in His eyes. We are His beloved. Our purpose is not to make much of ourselves, but to make much of our Creator. As we share our gifts, and surrender to Him in all we do, He will be glorified.
I've written 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 in all my journals since last year, "That my God would make me worthy of his calling and would fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus would be glorified in me according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." This reminds me constantly of my desire that whatever I do bring Him glory.
So, if you are creative and feeling stuck, or just need someone to accompany you on that journey, pick up "Adorning the Dark" for encouragement and insight.
What is your favourite mode of creativity?
**Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC copy of this book and the opportunity to post an honest review!