Think about your top five favorite things to do. I’d bet they were all a bit daunting before you jumped in and tried them. Some may even have taken time for you to grow to love. But since they fall into your present faves list, grow to love them you did.
Can we be real for a minute? For most adults, creativity is daunting.
It’s vulnerable. It’s childish. It’s time consuming. It’s not exactly productive. It’s out of the comfort zone. And on and on.
Lean in, friends. I want you to put every reason (even if you feel it’s justified) not to make something on a shelf. I promise those reasons and your ego will be waiting for you when we’re done. You’re not abandoning them, just pushing pause on them for a few minutes.
When you strip off the excuses and fears, all that’s left is hopeful possibility. Nobody else has to see what you create. Heck, you can burn it or shred it or paint over it if you don’t like it. That’s part of the fun. One of my very favorite quotes is by Scott Adams: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” I’ve found this to be true even on an expanded scale: living is allowing yourself to make mistakes, while flourishing is knowing which ones to keep. What does it say about God when we think He can’t handle our screw- ups, so we live small and try little and create nothing?
Can you give yourself that kind of permission? To get it wrong? To make a mess? To find a mistake and allow Jesus to make it shiny, to see it as a crucial element of the finished piece and admire it? To maybe discover that the God who can seem so prim and proper and powerful has actually been waiting to spend time with you while you both finger paint?
Tap into the kid who loved a fresh coloring sheet and markers being placed on the table. To the one who built blanket forts. To the wide-eyed wonder of a world full of dreams. This is actually really biblical. The very first thing we know about God from Scripture is that He is eternal and that He creates. With that image stretched into us, we can’t help but lean into it, even if it’s just through childhood. And Jesus sets the record straight here for his oh-so-grown-up-and-respectable disciples in Luke 18:15-17: “Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” While this isn’t directly tied to living creatively, it is a beautiful picture of how Christ values the kid heart above the need to appear competent all the time.
I’ve recently been pondering the difference between being childish and being childlike. What does it mean for us to receive the kingdom of God like a little child? What are the qualities Jesus longs for us to have? Kids are needy (and more than that, they’re aware of their neediness). They aren’t concerned about appearances or power mongering. They bring energy and joy and life to their surroundings. They don’t wrestle with the need to understand every little thing—they just believe fully and deeply. If we can cultivate this attitude in a space of creating, we’ll be honoring our Creator. He loved it when we came to Him like kids way back in Luke, and He still loves it today.
Okay. So the adult baggage is waiting patiently on the shelf, and we’ve got a childlike outlook on creativity. Now what?
Now we go play! Break out the clay. Or the yarn. Or the crayons. Or the finger paint. Or the glue. Or the typewriter. Or the ingredients. Or the camera. Focus on colors and texture. Find a rhythm. Enjoy the process. If you have absolutely nothing to work with on hand, go to the dollar store and pick up whatever strikes your fancy. Keep a list of ideas to try and books to read as you come across them.
If you can give yourself 15 minutes a day (maybe wake up earlier or skip a little social media time) to make something, you’ll be engaging the heart of God more regularly and experiencing an aspect of Him that most people miss out on: His fun side. He’s not too important to get out the play dough with you and make worms. Or to glitter up a piece of construction paper. He’s a good Dad who loves spending time with His kids.
It’s time to stop insulting God by living small and trying little and creating nothing. He is big enough to redeem our art. Just give Him something to work with.