Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

Photo courtesy of Windows "Public Pictures" ("Sample Pictures")
"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold,
it was very good." (Genesis 1:31)

Wow! How often do you look at the things you've made (be it dinner, a piece of art, a photo . . . ) and pronounce it "very good" ?

We live in a fallen world, so it makes sense that our creations would be riddled with "imperfections." And yet, as humans made in the image of God the Creator (Genesis 1:27), and as followers of Jesus who have Christ in us (Galations 2:20, Colossians 1:27), I find myself wondering why most of us have so many insecurities about the products of our own creativity.

I explored this idea a little bit in my post about my DD8's art journal, with which she expressed dissatisfaction, but it's something that has been swirling around in my brain for quite some time. I thought it would be worth exploring a bit more here on Monday Musings about the Creator in Me . I don't pretend to have the answers on the subject, but I'm hoping that by asking some of the questions, I can challenge us all to come to a better understanding of what it means to BE a creator and have THE Creator in us as followers of Christ.

I wonder if the "goodness" we miss in some of our work is from a desire -- and inability -- to achieve perfection. It's kind of an interesting thought, since God created a perfect world, and humanity was part of that perfect creation -- but because of sin, we are in need of being made perfect (Hebrews 13:21) by the blood of Christ. So, until we are perfected, perhaps we will always be discouraged by our imperfections, even those that appear in our creations. Or is that just relevant to those who have "perfectionist" tendencies?

And why is it that we so often feel the need for external affirmation that our work is "very good"? Are we trained from childhood to believe that our creations must conform to certain criteria in order to be "liked" and "acceptable" ? If so, how does that happen? Some might argue that it's because, in the effort to explain "how" to do something, or in offering pre-made templates to facilitate learning, we are often stifling natural creativity. (And yet, if there is "no new thing under the sun" [Ecclesiastes 1:9], then in reality, we can only strive to imitate in some way. Is there anything inherently wrong with that? But that's a whole other topic!) Perhaps the issue might be the source of approval that we seek. Colossians 3:23 instructs us to do whatever we do "heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." So maybe we are bound to be disappointed if we seek the approval of humanity, and should be more concerned about pleasing God with our creative endeavours.

But what does it really mean to please God in the area of our creativity? Does it mean our creativity has to be used for a certain purpose, such as to serve others? Or can it simply be a means of expression -- be it some aspect of Him or ourselves as created and creative beings? Based on my own experience, I'm inclined to think that the purpose of the creativity is not what's important. An altered book serves no real functional purpose (that I can think of, anyway!) -- and yet some of my book altering experiences have been quite spiritual in nature. They have enabled me to explore tenets of my faith as well as express some of the joy I've found in simply being creative. They (along with most of my artistic endeavours) have also served in some way to make me feel connected to the Creator (in a heart-knowledge way vs. a head-knowledge way), bringing a sense of peace as well as inspiration in those moments of creativity. So really, is there any reason for me to question whether those things I've created are "good" -- whether other people like them or not -- or even whether I like them or not?

You and I might have different answers to the questions I've posed here, and I do hope you'll share your opinions in the comments. As you contemplate your own creativity this week, and your thoughts on this matter of "goodness," I challenge you with this verse: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Colossians 3:17).
Photo courtesy of Windows "Public Pictures" ("Sample Pictures")

Now just one more thing about creative masterpieces and goodness . . . My DH came across this God-tube video/skit that talks about each of us being "God's original masterpiece." God doesn't make junk. Remember -- "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). (I would have embedded the video if I could have found the HTML -- but, alas, you'll have to click on the link to view God's Chisel.)

So, what do YOU see when you look at the products of your creativity? And more importantly, what do you see when you look in the mirror?

P.S. You can read this post over at Homeschool Blogger Company Porch, too :)


  1. This post is so well thought I know I will be referring to it often in my own life.

    I have never thought about the need to please, to strive for perfection as a need to be closer with God. It makes total sense. I create art not to fulfill a human need like eating or sleeping, but to fulfill a spiritual need of relating to the imperfect world. A lot of times I make art when their is the most turmoil in my life. I notice this a lot with other artists too. Maybe in some way I am trying to connect spiritually? As a way to cope with the imperfections? When there is contentment or joy in my life I still make art but I feel less of a strong need. Why is that?

    There is nothing new under the sun but what are those things we want to imitate and why? How will it make me a better person or teacher? I will continue to think about that.

    Who are we trying to please? There are sure a lot of people out their who are vying for us to please them kids, bosses, parents, etc. but if the answer is not God first then we need to take a step back! Thanks for helping me remember this.

    I can't believe all this came from that stupid plate of cookies I posted. Your thoughts are so helpful and I will be rereading it again and again I'm sure.

  2. LOL -- that plate of cookies was the last "bite" for me in a long line of thought-grazing over the last few months, Erica. These questions have been brewing in my brain for a while, which is why I didn't actually link to your post, though I did in my first draft. I decided that the part in which I'd referred to your blog was a tangent I'd like to visit in another later post about imitation in art :)So leave a cookie or two on the plate ;)

    There a couple of things that struck me in reading your comment . . . I actually hadn't thought of our desire for perfection as being out of "a need to be closer to God," as you said -- which DOES make sense (though it's unachievable in our own strength).I was looking at it more as us wanting to be more like what we were created to be -- perfect, as we were before sin entered the world. But that whole idea of trying to connect spritually with God rings true. AND what you said about trying to cope with life's imperfections --- I so agree! It struck me as I read your comment that my creative output has intensified proportionally to the "turmoil in my life," as you so aptly put it. In so many ways, my art (specifically, as opposed to my "creativity" in general as it applies to other aspects of life) has become a means of sifting through the chaff of life and finding joy in the midst of the threshing process -- even when whatever I'm working on isn't directly "spiritual" in its focus. I'm really grateful for the peace that results from the process (it comes regardless of the "quality" of the product), and am thrilled that my DD13 is finding art to be a means of sorting through HER growing-up struggles.

    You also raised good questions about what and why we might imitate others -- questions that apply to so many aspects of life. When I apply it to creativity in general -- I find myself asking why I might, for example, want to imitate Susan's tablescapes over at Between Naps on the Porch. Is it because I want to bless my family and friends with beauty in their environment -- or because I covet her lovely stuff and want an excuse to collect pretty things like she has?!?!? As you ask, how does that imitation improve some aspect of me?

    Once again, you've given me some good food for thought, Erica! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! :)

    I must "to bed" now or I'll make this comment long enough to be another post!


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