Maybe you only sometimes call yourself an artist but you think artist-thoughts regularly. These thoughts are for you. Artists are a strange group, a weird, off-beat clique, most of whom don’t make any money and probably smoke something borderline illegal seven days a week. Or so you think. Most “creatives” who haven’t chosen to pursue a freelance or otherwise artsy profession probably don’t consider themselves artists in any capacity. Even the word is a little too edgy for us “normal” folk. It implies a great deal of risk, I reckon. Too much, maybe?
Here’s the thing about art & creativity, though. From the perspective that an all-loving God created the universe and everything in it, paying special attention to the wiring up of human beings and how they interact with one another and with their Creator, this whole idea of art & creativity adopts a new platform. From this vantage point, it’s not just an off-beat subculture for young hipsters that’s rising up to overtake Chicago neighborhoods like Wicker Park or entire cities like San Antonio. It’s a passion within this Creator God and is birthed directly from His character.
Now, if we can hold loosely that perspective for a minute and suppose that we, all of mankind, whether we truly adopt this set of beliefs about the Bible sort of God or not, were created as image-bearers of an all-loving and all-powerful Creator, then the whole thing starts to make sense. If, in the spark of our coming to exist, there was creativity, then we have reason to be creative beings. There was this series of ideas and then us, the culmination of those ideas into reality–creativity! Without the mindset of an artist, we wouldn’t be the complex, unique figures of philosophic and theoretical thought as we very obviously are. We are the product of an Artist. We are living proof that creativity, when executed, can make something magnificent. Something beyond basic. We bear the image of our Creator, the original Artist.
Okay…so what that we have imbedded in us creativity and ideas worth sharing? It matters because we believe a lie from somewhere that unless we come from the ripped-skinny-jeans, paintbrush-in-the-pocket crowd, we have nothing creative to offer this world. We have no ideas to offer one another. No gifts to give of ourselves. This simply isn’t true. I once knew a man who was wired up on the inside by beautiful melodies. The man was truly made of music notes. He carried baggage heavier than I could imagine, the remedies he’d tried over the years trailed behind him as he pressed on. Decades of defeat. He harbored questions about this Creator God but hid behind a stubbornness that handicapped him from healing, from ever truly meeting his Savior. But as far as his creativity was concerned, none of that mattered. He was suppressing a desire to create, which was keeping him from a true artist nature, which I believe all of us have.
This man was sitting back behind the crowd, content with mediocrity and middle of the road. But I could see that he was wired for beauty and for freedom. He was capable of crafting gorgeous works of art and processing life through music, but for years he would only talk about how he hoped… and how he wished that one day…
Until the day he walked into his voice lesson. Or the day he sat in that music composition course. Maybe it was the day he scribbled deeply personal lyrics on the pages of his composition notebook that matched the riff he’d been humming in his head all day long. Was he a musician yet when he held his first demo cd in his hand, with his name on the front and a photo of his elation the day we saw a double rainbow? Or did he still hesitate until he drove East from this city, to a bigger, more “Hollywood” version of this where he would find a band and record his original jams with names from the Billboard Top 40 in a real studio, sound technicians equalizing his voice and queuing backup singers to croon the words he wrote on a train from downtown Chicago?
Whenever the moment, whichever morning he woke up and began to live fully in his creativity, this man became an artist not by connection or networking. He became an artist not by schooling or upbringing. He already was an artist. He was an artist because he was created by an Artist to bear the image of Himself, to be an artist, a creator.
The creativity in him was finally awakened and he stepped into the realm of what it is to create. He put together ideas already swimming around in his alive and vibrant mind. He bent and twisted them until they sounded beautiful. He had an ear for that kind of sound. His fingers could caress the neck of any guitar, reproducing those sounds that echoed in his head. He wasn’t looking to become an artist. He didn’t fit the stereotype. But inside of him he had the ability to create. He didn’t want to give up everything to follow Christ; didn’t want to count the cost of discipleship to seek the One who created everything he knows and loves, but he still grabbed hold of his responsibility as an image-bearer of that Creator. He grasped the responsibility of being human; of being. And he chose to create.
What do you do with all of those artist-thoughts that pop in and out of your mind while you go about your regular day-to-day? There’s no formula that will erase them. There’s no activity, no special prayer, no other religion that will cover up or drown out the ideas that you formulate because you were meant to create. You don’t have to call yourself an artist; don’t make that kind of commitment. But create space in your day to be the image-bearer you were made to be and find the time to create, as you were created.