17 Aug Creativity as Worship
In the beginning, God created…
Ever since I was little, I remember taking art classes, carrying a sketchbook around, and learning the names of all sorts of wild colors and patterns. When my dad recently sold the truck he used to drive me to school in, we found one of my old sketchbooks right where I had left it in the glovebox as if it were a time capsule.
I remember looking out at the trees as we would drive and trying to mimic them with my pencil. In my mind, I was creating amazing likenesses that deserved to be hung in a museum. Thankfully, my dad agreed and encouraged me to continue creating since he saw that I found so much joy in it.
Looking back, all my portfolios of art and other creative masterpieces that my mom so carefully preserved are much less impressive than I remember them being. I recently went through some of them with my husband to show him the origins of my creativity, and we had some good laughs along the way at my attempts to draw, paint, sew, and build furniture.
I was always intrigued by the beauty in the world, and since God created us perfectly, I believe that it can be an act of worship to create beautiful things using the materials and ideas the Father has given us, even if they are imperfect, shadowy renditions of His Creation. Over the years, I have found that God has taught me a few things through my attempt to be an artist.
- Patience: I easily give up on things I’m not naturally good at, but after 22 years of being considered artsy and creative by my family and friends, I strive to try new things until I hit my stride. I’ve been watercoloring for about five years, and it’s only been for the past year or so that I’ve been confident enough to start selling my work and sharing it with strangers. I could have easily quit while I still found it difficult and frustrating, but God has met me so many times in my dedicated creative times.
- Silence and solitude: Much of the time when I’m painting, I’m alone in a quiet room trying to come up with what to paint or how to paint it. Because I didn’t go to school for art, it was a way for me to take a break from my studies in college or from a heavy workload nowadays. Painting forces me to focus, away from my phone or whatever else is consuming my mind that day so that my soul can rest.
- Meditation: Sometimes I paint a landscape or some flowers or whatever comes to mind, but some of the most fruitful creative times I’ve had have been outside of my art studio. While I was living in Costa Rica after high school, I had to find a medium that was portable and could travel with me. I chose to bring watercolors. Many days during my Bible reading time I would paint what I read in order to spend more time processing a passage. Often I would do this right in the pages of my Bible, and over the years my Bible has become more and more filled with imagery. A few summers ago I painted through the Psalms, which is a great place to start with all its figures of speech and illustrations.
- Prayer: Other times, my painting intersects with my prayer life. I love to pray for friends while painting them a verse or image that God brings to mind to strengthen, encourage, comfort, or challenge them. Many times I’ve been praying and a specific image will come into my head, even if I don’t understand why or what it represents. When I give the painting to the person I was praying for they are often amazed that God was so specific to connect us.
These are all things that God has guided me to do over the years, but I love that He has perfect gifts and plans for each of us, so every creative thing we do to honor Him reflects a different part of His character and creativity. I’ve struggled with comparing my art to others’ over the years, but to be honest, a lot of my art is just between me and God. It’s in my Bible or a post it note on my desk, not for anyone else to see or marvel at. And sometimes it is for others, as a gift or blessing to them. But as I pray over each piece of art I create, I thank God for the gift of creativity and all that it teaches me about Him.