Hold on, there. Don’t click away. I’m talking to you, and yes, you are creative. If you’ll give me a few minutes and your patience to get through this post, I’m going to tell you why creativity is so vital to a thriving Christian life, and why you are equipped for it already. This is a truth I’ve been aware of for quite a while, but to be honest, I ‘forget’ about it for stretches of time. Then it gnaws and pulls at me until it has my full attention–which is right now, as a matter of fact. So, while I’m fully aware, I’m tapping you on the shoulder to say, “hey–this applies to you, too.”
We were all created to be creative. Made in the image of the Creator. Everyone is hardwired to be able to make stuff, to make something new and original that didn’t exist before.That makes us pretty special. Even the angels don’t have the ability to create. In fact, that is one thing Satan really hates about people. He can counterfeit, he can steal, he can usurp, but he cannot create. And I think one of the biggest, most convincing lies he persuades us to believe is that some of us don’t have a creative bone in our body. Pffffff. Hogwash.
First of all, let’s begin to think creatively about creativity. It doesn’t just pertain to the arts! Dictionary.com defines it this way:
So that applies to a whole host of stuff: cooking, writing, decorating, woodworking, experiments (of all kinds), organizing, planning events, designing (of all kinds), fabric/yarn, jewelry-making. You get the picture. The point is, you’ve most likely done something in at least one of these categories or in some other similar area. Don’t discount it because you don’t happen to be a genius or a prodigy or recognized for your work. It still counts and it’s extremely valuable. And it’s more than just a hobby–creativity is a vital part of thriving.
Let me tell you why.
Creativity promotes healing and good mental health. It’s a powerful tool to channel stress and negative emotions into a positive outlet. In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health released the article, The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health, which described the results of more than 100 studies on the effect the creative arts (specifically, music, visual arts, dance, and writing) had on the overall health of its participants. The results showed
- “improved well-being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones”
- “reductions in stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions”
- “reductions in distress and negative emotions”
- “improvements in flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks”
They even saw some physical/biological improvements in sickness and disease. Most of us have heard of talented artists and musicians who have thrown their emotional angst into their work and ended up with masterpieces of beauty. The same principle applies to the rest of us. We can create something beautiful fueled by our pain and ugliness. Like the Lord can make beauty out of ashes and work all things for our good, so we can choose creativity as our positive path to the same end.
Creativity doesn’t just release the bad, it releases the good. The act of creating something is good for your brain. Not just the emotional parts, but the cognitive part, too. It stimulates and promotes critical thinking skills, analytical thinking, and problem-solving, just to name a few. It makes us consider other possibilities and releases even more creative thinking. You might be aware of this while you’re working on something, or you might not. I usually don’t notice what I’m thinking about as I paint, but I do feel like I am using areas of my brain that are not always engaged. I have also found that time spent in creative pursuits are also the times when I hear God most clearly. It could have to do with shutting out other distractions. But even more so, I think when we are creating something, our spirits are open to hearing him better.
The things we create become blessings for ourselves and for others. Whether we produce a fine work of art, a gourmet meal, a hand-knit scarf, or thoughtfully planned-out excursion, what we create can mean more than its face value. I hate the expression “it’s the thought that counts,” because it ends up being a sort of backhanded compliment. But our thoughts, effort, time, and energy are facets of who we are. It’s like giving away (or preserving) a piece of ourselves. Even better, a piece of ourselves encapsulated in time, right where we are now. It doesn’t really matter how amazing or perfect the end result is, it’s the process behind it that gives creative expression its true value.
My dear friends, you need make creativity a part of your everyday life. Don’t give in to the lies that you aren’t creative, that it’s a luxury you can’t afford, that you just…can’t. Sylvia Plath once said that “the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” She’s right.
Don’t doubt, just do it. Pick something and make time–alone, in a class, whatever it takes. You are made for more than just getting through the day.
It’s time to start thriving.
How do you express yourself creatively? How does God use creativity in your life? Leave me a comment below, or visit my Facebook page to do the same! I love hearing from you!