“Creativity is inherently an act of courage.”
This is one of my favorite quotes. It’s from the book, “The Artisan Soul” by Erwin McManus, founder and pastor of Mosaic church in L.A. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what this quote means and why creativity feels like an act of courage. Where courage is needed, there must be an oppositional force we are trying to overcome. Bravery and courage are needed if there’s a battle of some sort. And if there’s a battle, then that must mean there’s an enemy.
And if there’s an enemy willing to fight against us, then there must be something good the enemy wants to keep us from. Something that’s clearly worth fighting for.
What one thing did the devil target when he met Eve in the Garden of Eden?
Her identity. He told her she could be like God if she ate from the tree. He tempted her with the thought that she was not good enough the way she was created. That her mere identity was limited and small.
Have you ever heard that voice that tells you you’re not good enough the way you were created? That who you are is too limited and small to be worthwhile? I hear that voice all of the time. With every project and idea, I battle that voice.
The first thing Adam and Eve felt when they ate the forbidden fruit was shame for their identity and they went into hiding. Many of us are still hiding and there’s an enemy who wants to keep it that way.
Creativity is a vulnerable act and takes courage because it means coming out of hiding. It brings to the outside, what you see, feel, hear and think on the inside. Because we are all unique with no two of us alike, then our creative acts are our unique expression of these things we see, feel, hear and think. Thus it reveals our unique identity. This might possibly be the very thing many of us would rather keep hidden like they did in the Garden of Eden because of feelings rooted in shame, inadequacy or fear of rejection. Creativity is an act of courage because it is engaging in the battle against these lies that we should feel ashamed or fear of rejection.
Our unique identity most closely reveals the identity of our creator. This is the battle we are in. There’s an enemy who doesn’t want us to know our true identity because then he loses. When you see a beautiful painting filled with intricate details that tell a story, what does it point your mind to? The artist. By seeing the painting, you are faced with the fact that there’s an artist who poured his/her heart, soul and physical strength into creating this masterpiece.
This is what’s true about us. We actually have to become vulnerable enough to be willing to receive this reality. That we are loved enough by God for Him to have uniquely created everything about us just like a master painter or sculptor does while creating their work. It is almost harder to receive love than to give. To receive means that you have to accept yourself as worthy of that love. When you do accept that, then you can begin to operate out of fullness and abundance. You can dream again, imagine possibilities and create. Psalm 126:1 talks about when the captives were brought back to freedom in Zion, then they dreamed again. Verse 2 says “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”
Our inner, unique identity expressed outwardly, points us to our Creator. We are His works of art. Sculpted with living breath and souls. Imagination and creativity is the one thing that makes us unique among the rest of creation. The gazelle does not wake up one morning and decide it’s tired of the mundane, survival routine. Eat, drink, reproduce, don’t get killed by a lion, do it all over again the next day(hopefully). It isn’t capable of imagining the possibilities of how its life could be different so therefore, never questions it’s identity and reason for existence.
We, however, are all born with the unique ability to imagine something that doesn’t exist and then turn it into reality. To create. It’s actually a healthy sign of childhood development if a child does imaginative play and acts out different scenarios with their toys or drawings or what have you.
This tells me three things:
We are all born inherently creative to reflect the image of a creative God.
Every piece of creation has, hidden within it, the very nature of God. However, we are the only living things He created with the ability to also create because of the ability we were given to imagine and hope for what is yet unseen.
God didn’t create us with a blueprint in mind. If He had a blueprint plan for our lives, He would not have created us with this unique characteristic of imagining possibilities that don’t exist. He also created us with the ability to bring these visions and ideas to reality which I think would really mess up a “blueprint” God’s plans!
God intended our existence to be in partnership with Him. God created human beings to be in communion with Him and to partner with Him in His work. Genesis says He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve and He went looking for them when they hid from their shame. This communion with God isn’t because He needs us. He had just finished speaking the universe into existence. He didn’t need anything or anyone. But He created human beings, in His image, for the purpose of relationship with Him. He invited Adam to partner with Him and name the animals. Genesis 2:19-20 “Now the Lord God had informed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.”
By God’s very design, we were born to be creative, imagine possibilities and partner with Him to bring those possibilities to reality. We need not fear this identity or keep it hidden. It may take a lot of courage but we were born for it. I think we are entering a time when God is drawing out the artists to no longer stay hidden or afraid but to create boldly and with confidence in our Creator that he will carry us, His own works of art, to completion. (Philippians 1:6)
What do you imagine? Try to write it, paint it, dance it, sing it, invent it, attempt it, cook it, pray it…etc Creativity can serve so many purposes in our spiritual lives. It can break chains off of our soul, be our prayer when we have no words, fill us with joy, or even act as a balm for a season of healing. Songwriting brought me emotional healing a couple of year ago because it brought me closer to God’s heart and purpose for my life. I brought my gifts to Him and it freed me to no longer live under the scrutiny of “man” but to see that He wanted to partner with me to use my gifts for His purposes.
Creativity is an act of courage because it forces us to face who we really are. It takes bravery to let others see our true identity if we decide to step into it fully. This is why it’s so powerful. It frees us to discover our identity, the very thing the enemy wants us to question and confuse us about. He battles to keep us from knowing our identity. It’s so important to stay rooted in the truth of God’s Word about who we are. There’s so much confusion about our identity as human beings in our world right now. As long as the enemy keeps people confused about it, the further he keeps people from knowing their Creator fully.
When you know your creator, you find out who you really are. When you find out who you really are, than you are free. Nothing sets someone free like knowing their identity as a loved son or daughter.
We can’t disengage from the battle or ignore the fact that there is one. Art is war. It takes courage to battle in this war. To create is a battle for our true identity. We must fight it but the good news is that we have this promise that “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord” in Zechariah 4.