By Larry Warner of b-ing.org
Are you creative? Before you answer that let me assure you that you are creative – more creative than you can even imagine. You were made to be creative and until others things began to weigh on you – the opinion of others, the need to do it well, comparing yourself with others – you were creative. As a child there is this innate freedom to be creative. They paint, sing, and dance, among other things, with abandonment and an effervescent, contagious joy that can even awaken the dormant creativity within another.
You were created in the image of God and so are like God AND the first and foremost image we have of God is as creator - ergo, you are creative. Sadly though you may no longer be free to be creative. As one grows up they often become shackled by the expectations of others, the perceived need to perform well, fearing what others may think or say about them. You may no longer feel the inner freedom to be creative.
I see this especially played out with others and myself at wedding receptions. If there are children attending, as soon as the music starts, they are out on the dance floor - how can they not be – there is music, laughter, smiling faces. However, many of the adults, unless they can dance, are spectators glued to their seats by their fears rather than just getting out their and shaking their booty. Their God given creativity stifled.
What about you? Is there anything keeping you from realizing and embracing the creativity that is within you? If there is something keeping you back from being creative what would it look like to invite God into that space so together you might be able to be free to create?
Now to those of you who are creative, are you stuck, stifled in your creativity – judgmental of your on work, fearful to venture out of the current comfort of your creative confines and try something new? What would it look like to breakout of the creative box you have made into a safe haven and begin to dream, take chances, try something new? What keeps your creativity from expanding? What would it look like to invite God into that space?
Where do you go from here? I actually do not know but I will tell you what I did - I started dancing at weddings. I still stink as a dancer, my moves are wooden and contained but I am out there and it is fun and freeing. Also, I have found the more I do it the freer I have become to be me in other venues. What would it mean for you to step out on your own dance floor and take a spin – trusting God and the process? If I know God and you have been reading this with openness to the Spirit of God, then I think you already know what your next step is, what dance floor God is inviting you onto. So come on and join me – the music is just starting.
NOTE: When I say you are creative please do not misunderstand me and think this means you will be good as you embrace and free the creativity within you. You may be, but I am not saying you will be. What I am saying is that as you allow your creativity to bubble to the surface it will be life giving, life enriching, it will be a place of connection with God, another form of prayer, it will open you up to yourself, God and others in new ways and it is great fun.
It feels fair to say "I'm in it." I'm deep in the process of making what feel like monumental life choices -- the kind that "adults" make. While I feel capable in the pool of my current context, stepping into these life-altering choices feels like going from the kiddie pool to an olympic sized diving pool. It looks deep and scary and dark. It feels unknown because it is outside my realm of experience.
In this place I've been revisiting my experience in the Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius, the author of the Exercises, has a lot to say about making decisions. He has process for how to compare two good alternatives; rules for when not to back out of a previously made good decision; questions to help you see your own internal process in the decision making; and most importantly, grace to remember God is still with you.
As I've been working through my decision, and reflecting back on these Ignatian principles, I ran across this little gem:
Don't change a good decision made in peace when the waves of fear or anxiety kick up.
What this implies is there is a good chance, even a good decision will evoke some concern, some caution, some doubt. And the Christian saying of, "Make the decision which leads to peace," is -- in this light -- slightly misleading, or only half true. As I'm learning in my own decision process how true it is that a decision made well at the beginning of the process is not bullet proof to distraction, persuasion, or worry.
What I'm learning as I recognize the places these things are surfacing in my own process is that the answer lies not in reacting to the fear, but to wait, to settle down internally, and to re-evaluate. Have I gained new information that would cause me to change my decision? Am I seeing that my initial decision was made in error? Has this turned into a "one-way" decision I can't undo later? If no, then I carry on, continually praying and seeking God's guidance, clarity, and movement of my heart towards his purposes for me and the world.
As I seek God through these questions I return to sensing more clearly which choice feels most like the "drop of water on a sponge," as Ignatius describes a good decision that draws us closer to God will feel calming, rather than like a drop of water on a rock, which describes a decision contrary to God's purposes for us.
Today while browsing the inter-webs for interesting articles and resources I stumbled upon one that just about knocked me over inside. I felt a bit side-swiped, and completely seen at the same time (maybe a little too seen, if I'm being honest).
Read the article here.
In it the author writes things like:
The irony of God's universe is that limitations actually set us free to be the people God created. If all my time and focus goes to becoming someone else I am essentially running on a treadmill rather than on the road. Because saying yes to who God has made you to be is scary -- what if I don't like who God's made me to be? What if it doesn't feel like enough? Gut-wrenchingly painful questions.
And in the light of those questions it is so easy to put your head down in the sand and just carry on. Maybe that's all you have the capacity to do. Maybe looking at those scary questions straight in the face feels like too much for today. God can work with that.
Jesus' invitation to you is to show up, empty hands or full hands, it doesn't matter. God can work with that. Because maybe the journey isn't becoming someone else you admire (or maybe are jealous of); maybe the journey is to eventually like who you actually are, because maybe who you are is bright and wonderful, funny and quirky, and great with couponing or making art or running her business' social media with passion and feistiness. And maybe, over time, you'll begin to see more of what Jesus was up to when he created you: a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
And finally, remember God gave you the desires you have not to put them high up on a shelf so they don't break. Go break a few, grieve their loss or undesired outcome, then, when it's time, allow new desires to grow inside you because loss is not the end of the line with God -- God renews. Sitting there dusting off your shelved desires once a week is the only guaranteed way to make sure they don't come to pass.
Jesus, have mercy.