Some people are born with creative brains. Their minds spin tales and imagine worlds the rest of us can barely comprehend let alone replicate. Others have gifted hands as well. They create things as if out of nothing from found objects, various mediums, and materials.
For me, my faith is inextricably intertwined with my creativity. It’s a unique human experience because we get to tap into the creator side of God. We are all made in God’s image. We all inhabit different parts of him. But we don’t all get every trait of the multifaceted Almighty.
We the makers and artists, we get to be creators too. It is in our DNA as strongly as what we inherited from our parents. We must produce. If we don’t, there is a cost.
My husband and I are both creative people, though not in all the same ways. We are both writers. He prefers fantasy fiction. I write mostly chick-lit and devotional non-fiction. He paints. I dance. I knit, crochet and sew. He does digital art.
Over the years we’ve known each other, we’ve also gotten to know ourselves better. We’ve learned, the hard way, that we need to feed our creative sides or our brains will eat themselves, as our therapist used to say.
This is the hidden curse of the blessing of creativity.
This is not to say that being creative cannot be learned, of course it can. But there are some that are born with brains that are wired for it. Like everyone else, we can cultivate and grow what we already have. But we also have trouble turning it off.
An unused creative mind is a bit like a lion in your living room. You can’t ignore it indefinitely without serious consequences.
There are times I’ve been tempted to quit writing. It’s a hard master to serve in a culture that is filled with digital words and voices but where books are rarely read by a large portion of the population.
It feels like painting in color for a world that can only see in black and white.
Sometimes I wish I had a different brain, one that was happier with consumption rather than creation. But I can’t just turn the switch off. Some have tried. Most have ended up depressed drunks or young corpses.
The creative mind extracts a high cost for its services. But with proper care and feeding being a creator is one of the most joyous callings in life. I’ve told my husband that creating art is probably the closest emotional and spiritual experience to pregnancy and childbirth that anyone can experience.
To make something from nothing. What better way to echo our creator?
My husband watches my knitting projects in process and is mystified.
“She takes balls of yarn and makes clothes!” he brags to friends.
He designs worlds, peoples, and cultures that don’t exist. Then he tells stories about them in such a way that I forget they aren’t real. He is a creator too.
The sick paradox is that when he is in a full-on depression, the creative muse tends to abandon him as well. He doesn’t usually feel like doing the work of art. But he knows that if he can get past the barrier of inertia, there is peace on the other side.
Creating is a sacred experience. It can’t be otherwise. Madeline L’Engle said that all art is sacred, whether it’s religious or not.
We were created by a creative, unique and artistic God.
How do we know God is creative? Because he painted the world in infinite combinations of color, pattern, and texture.
How do I know I’ve been called to be creative? Because I can see and appreciate those facets of the universal, not just notice them but feel the need to replicate, imitate and extrapolate more from what I see. I’ve learned that this is not the case for everyone. It’s part of how I am wonderfully made.
I’m choosing to embrace how I’m designed, all the flawed and lovely ways. This means I will always experience a measure of dissatisfaction in this life.
People like my husband feel in their souls the pain of this broken world. Because he can see how it should be rather than how it is, with more clarity than most.
Our brains are always churning, bubbling and projecting new ideas, images, and potentials. The tug of war is palpable. The temptation to drop the rope and let the muse go forever is real. But I’ve chosen to accept how I’m built and believe that it is both intentional and beautiful.
I’m a maker, a creator and an artist. Maybe you are too.
We have the privilege of seeing what’s possible and making it actual.
Embrace how you were made, honor your design and try to emulate the perfection of eternity. When you fall short, and you will, your creation will still make this world more beautiful.