Making A Memory – My Quiet Musings on the Origins of Creativity, Part Four
Last time I shared my realization that we are all given the gift of creativity by God. Even with this new truth to build on, changing my mindset about creativity has not been easy. I continue to struggle with perfectionism, a deep fear that I have nothing of value to share, and the burden of self-doubt. What if I’m not good enough for the work I really want to do?
One way I combat these cycles is to be deliberately mindful of how my struggles with depression distort reality. My negative thought patterns are like a funnel that narrow my perspective and are detrimental to authentic creativity. However, God sees and values me very differently than I see and value myself. One verse that I find helpful is Zephaniah 3:17. It says “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” God finds me worthy of delight and rejoicing. These words are a balm of salvation and healing.
Jeremiah 29:11 is another verse I rely on. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Since I view my artistic gifts as God-given, this verse reassures me. A good God would not give me artistic passions and then torture me by withholding the skills and substance needed to back those up. This knowledge mentally shifts my art making from a desperate endeavor to one of hopefulness. God also gave us the capacity to grow and learn, so that our creativity and abilities do not have to remain static. I must trust that God will provide what I need to do the creative work He has planned for me. This is difficult, but I’m working on it.
A related barrier I’ve had to address is my tendency to compare myself to others. Comparison morphs creativity into a competition that feeds my self-doubts. In His own infinite creativity God gave us different personalities, passions, talents and gifts. He allows us a diversity of life experiences and educational opportunities that shape us and our interests. We’re uniquely designed with inimitable ways that we practice our gifts of creativity. I am pulled to painting and drawing, mixed media, making music, or working in my garden. Other people write poetry, create sculpture, compose music, discover new concepts in mathematics, knit, dance, design a medical device, teach, tell stories, or cook. A group of artists painting the same still life end up with very distinct work because God gave them each their own artistic voice, experiences, and style of interpreting what they see onto the canvas. So really I shouldn’t expect my creative work to be directly comparable to that of anyone else. Rather than treat creativity as a competition I should concentrate on completing the creative work only I can do, and find ways to encourage others in furthering their creativity.
The final tactic I’m examining is to view my creative endeavors as a spiritual discipline. I’ve found that God frequently uses the times when I am actively creating to connect with me. I’ve experienced this in several ways. I often end up meditating on God, scripture, or praying while physically creating my artwork. I’ve also experienced amazing spiritual connections with God and others when making music together. This happens both in a worship setting and elsewhere. Sometimes just one perfect, pure note out of a whole concert or rehearsal strikes me as an extravagant gift from God. The act of creating can open up deep pathways of connection between me and the God of the Universe if I’m paying attention.
These are all areas I’m working on in my creative journey. I’m hopeful that as I cultivate them I will grow both in my faith and in my creative endeavors. Do you have any similar struggles? What do you find helpful in overcoming them?
Next time I will share about my ancestry and the ways it has influenced my art.