by Carrie Householder
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Pic by by McraftPix
I am obsessed with creativity right now. The concept of creativity has dogged me for years and I used to blame my seeming lack of creative expression on my schedule, my commitments and my overall ‘busyness.’ I had dozens of unfinished projects lying around my apartment because I always hoped that the next one would inspire me enough to actually finish it. In truth, I was an inspiration junkie. I was a professional consumer of other people’s creative fruit but barren as the moon. So when I got to Redding a year ago and I surveyed the expanse of space surrounding my new life, I thought to myself, “Now. Now, I can be creative.” I strutted into the local Michaels, acquired a set of watercolor pencils with my 40% off coupon, and went home to draw. As I sat in front of the sketch pad for the first time, pencils poised, I drew a total blank. It was a symphony of creative mind crickets.
Unsure of what to do next, I signed-up for a 4-week class in cross-medium art. It didn’t go deep in technique because each week we did something different: drawing one week, acrylic paint the next…but in the end I got something much more valuable than technique. Taking that class led me to a revelation that completely changed my life. The value of creativity isn’t in the outcome, it is in the process. …SELAH.
Now I’ll grant you that seems simple and obvious…it did to me too when the instructor first shared it. That is, until the next time I tried to sit down and create something. As I sat for 20 minutes and stared at the blank page with my pencils once again poised, I pondered what she had said. If the value was in the process than pressure’s off, right? But once again, I couldn’t even start the process. That’s when I got my AH-HA moment. For one brief second I was able to get out of my head and get real with myself about what was happening inside of me as I approached the process, and what I honestly, *truly* believed:
I believed that 1.) the second I put that pencil down the odds were high that I would make a mistake and that would mean chucking the whole project because 2.) it is a waste of time to make something that people don’t think is excellent. After all, 3.) God is going to watch and wait, and He will tell me at the end what He thinks of what I did (whether it had value) so 4.) whatever I am going to make had better be perfect and had better have purpose. If it isn’t going to be a gift or something there is no point. It certainly isn’t good enough to create for myself. And finally, *sigh* 5.) If creating is this much of a struggle than I am probably not meant to do it anyway.
When I reflected on my beliefs I realized something astonishingly profound. Somewhere along my journey through the garden of life, a truckload of toxic manure had been deposited on top of my mind tree. Luckily for me, I know who my Dad is so I knew that I had the right and the power to make a bonfire out of that junk. I had to dig pretty deep to find the infected roots and it was even a bit painful to cut them off, but luckily God knows a thing or two about gardens. Nasty roots produce nasty fruit, but it isn’t enough to pull them up. If you have no roots you will have no fruit at all. That’s when I remembered that when pruning dung roots from your mind tree, it’s a pretty good policy to replace them with roots of truth. Here are mine:
1.) The second I put that pencil down on paper, or dip that paintbrush, or cut that fabric, or write those lyrics I will probably make a beautiful mistake that could dramatically change my desired outcome. That’s more than ok, because 2.) I don’t create for approval, I create as an expression of God in me and everything He does is perfection. After all, 3.) He made me for relationship and He loves when we do it together. He already told me He thinks everything I create has value and that 4.) whatever I make has purpose. My creative expression is a gift back to Him. And the process of creating with Him is a gift back to me. And finally, *sigh* 5.) although I am made in the image of the alpha Creator, I am just a human being. I’m going to struggle with the process sometimes. Luckily, there is more beauty in the struggle than I ever, ever imagined.
So with my truths firmly in place the flow of creativity eventually opened up again. It was a slow trickle at first, but the more I chose to embrace and enjoy the process, the more I couldn’t wait to get to it. Creativity stopped taunting me and became my favorite occupation. As for the results? I guess they're improving…I haven’t really been paying attention.