We create because we were made to create, having been made in the image of God, whose first role was Creator. He was and is a million different things, but in the beginning, he was a creator.
- Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet
I am a writer. I always say this with a little bit of hesitation, as if it might not be true. As if the real writers of the world will read this and shake their heads and say to themselves, "She doesn't even know... bless her heart" (The real writers of the world are southern in my head). But nevertheless, I do write. And so I am a writer. And I believe there is something to be said for the creation of things. Of taking a blank page or a blank canvas or a white wall and turning it into something else. It takes inspiration and time and courage. Mostly, courage, I think. Because creating something is putting a piece of yourself on paper or canvas and then saying to the world (or whatever audience you have) "Look at this!", and their approval or disapproval can be either glorious and heartbreaking, depending. And I think that our lack of courage is what prevents us from being creators. It prevents us from displaying this particular part of the image of our Creator.
Over my years as a teacher and a babysitter and a mother, I have witnessed many creations. Stacked blocks. Finger painted circles. Tents made from bedsheets. Mud pies. Tidied rooms. Gingerbread houses. Handprint Christmas ornaments and Thanksgiving turkeys. Pictures of houses and rainbows and birds. Glittery construction paper cards. Sweet poems. All accompanied by little eyes looking up and saying "Tada! Look what I've done!", waiting for approval. I think we all start out this way. We all start out with the confidence to create things. And somewhere along the way, this changes. We are criticized or ignored or teased. And we become fearful. We develop insecurities that our Creator didn't intend for us to have. As adults, we look around and we see people that create more or create differently or create better than we do, and so we do not create. We do not write or sing or sew or paint or build or bake. We distract ourselves by filling our days with mindless things so that we do not even notice what we are missing.
For the last three weekends, I have gone to shows of some of my favorite musical artists. There is nothing that will make the feel the absence of writing in my life than hearing a particularly beautiful song or reading a brilliant book. And the songs and stories I have heard have done just that. They remind me that I, too, have a story to tell... a picture to paint... a song to sing. Sometimes these things will flow, and sometimes they will be work. Either way, they are worth the telling, the painting, the singing. They are worth the effort.
I often hear people say "I am not creative". And I suppose it depends on how you look at it. Some people do not sew or bake their own bread or paint. They do not write or sing or sculpt. But if you build forts or make up stories or fill the long days of summer with activities that prevent your kids from violently attacking one another, I believe you are a creator. If you look at an almost empty refrigerator and/or pantry and manage to find enough ingredients to put off going to the grocery store just one more day, you are creative. Every song you have made up to help your kids to remember to buckle up, every time you have managed to get out for a run when you have a houseful of kids, every excuse for a girls night you have conjured up, every outfit you have thrown together when nothing else fits... those are all proof of creativity. Proof that you have indeed been made with an imagination... for an escape, for problem solving, for a creative outlet.
So what are you creating? Or maybe more importantly, what are you not creating? What have you left behind? What was the thing you loved to do but you gave up? Maybe out of fear, maybe because you feel like you don't have the time. Either way, it's time to get back to it. It's time to get back to displaying the image of our Creator God. Dust off that old writing journal. Or maybe that piano. Open a cookbook. Build a fort (even if you're a grownup and you have no kids). Find your camera (especially if you build the fort... you'll need pictures). As the very creative author Shauna Niequist so eloquently writes in her book Bittersweet, "Do the work, learn the skills, and make art, because of what the act of creation will create in you".