Creativity: What is it? When I think about creativity and creative people I picture the stereotypical woman/super mom who is better at life than me. You know the one: she bakes and makes adorable crafts and plans church Christmas parties the likes of which “normal” people (meaning people like me, of course) could never have envisioned. But…vision. That’s what creative people have. It is the ability to look at a blank canvas – a room, a pile of burlap and ribbon, a list of ingredients, even an actual canvas – and see what it could become. They are then able to translate that vision into actual substance (and then post pictures of their magnificence on facebook and Pinterest) to the general amazement and ill-hidden chagrin of their audience. Oh, you, creative person – God love you, because the rest of us want to punch you in the face.
The notion of creativity has been on my mind quite a bit lately. Perhaps it is because my own creative mind has become benumbed by Christmas break and family-at-home-every-second-of-the-day inactivity, or perhaps I am being challenged to think outside the cozy this-is-where-we-keep-the-helpful-stereotypes box, but I find myself wondering, what does it really mean to be creative? What exactly is creativity? As a word nerd, I bet you can guess the very first place I looked to answer these questions.
But then? The dictionary (the online kind, of course, where you don’t have to do anything as retro as “turn pages” or “know the alphabet” in order to find a word. Then I looked up the word “retro” to make sure I was using it correctly. Goodness, I love the dictionary.) Here is the best of what I found:
Creative: having the ability to create
Creativity: the process by which one utilizes creative ability.
Because I’m me and my brain tends to dance circles around a subject in order to understand it, Jesus’ words from Luke 6:45 came to mind: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (NKJ).
Out of the treasure of his heart, man “brings forth.” The very act of bringing something forth – something tangible, something measurable, be it an idea, a talent, or a Snickerdoodle cookie with which to bless a friend – requires the ability to create, and everybody has it. God created us to be creative, to bring forth the treasure we store up in our hearts. The abstract or concrete or sweetly sugared thing that we create is an expression of that treasure. How that creation is manifested depends on the individual process by which we utilize our creative ability.
As an example, I’m sharing a facebook post from Greg Zellers, a blogger I follow, who wrote:
“There was this cutest little early teen couple in front of me at concessions at the theater. He offered to buy her snacks and I don’t think they had a clue how expensive it was. Two drinks, a popcorn, and two candies. He pulled out $8 all shy thinking that would cover it and I think he almost fainted when she asked for $26.50. His date was so sweet saying they could just share one drink. I didn’t even hesitate to pay for them. Their reaction was worth every penny. Told them they could just do the same for someone else someday. So fun.”
Your initial question might be, What does this have to do with creativity? Greg didn’t create anything, not by conventional standards. He is, however, a practical example of what it looks like to bring forth good out of the good that is stored within. In this case, his heart-box was full of generosity; the process by which he utilized the content of his heart-box was opening his wallet; the product brought forth from that generosity was blessing. He created blessing. He was, in that moment, creative.
And now another, closer-to-home example: Nikki Saylor’s message at DLC (9 a.m., Claremore campus) was about obedience, but the sweetest part of her story involved creativity – hosting a bake sale to raise money to bless a family for Christmas. She utilized her creative ability in a few different ways through the process, two of which were using her newly-learned skills to make pie and cookies to sell and then using the money earned from it to provide $400 to a recently-unemployed single mom. She combined the practical skills and desire to obey that were stored in her heart-box to fulfill the vision God had placed in her heart. She created blessing and connections and the opportunity for this mom to experience the Father’s love and provision.
Other examples come to mind: peaceful atmospheres, yummy desserts, and beautifully decorated houses; youtube videos, web pages, and perfectly organized offices; hugs, encouragement, and quality time spent with a friend. Some creations affect a wide audience; others are noted and felt by only a few. Regardless of the breadth of its impact, the ability to create is universal. The process by which each individual utilizes that ability is unique. The results of our creativity express the remarkable diversity of treasure stored up within us.
I don’t know about you, but that’s something I can get excited about.
So what does creativity look like for you? In what ways do you utilize your ability to bring forth the treasure in your heart-box? For me it often looks like words: blog posts, facebook updates, the occasional poem, and unpublished articles about subjects that dance on the outermost rim of importance. I’ve done quite a bit of creating the last few days, most of which no one will ever see, but the audience of creation is not the point. The satisfaction of creating something doesn’t stem from the attention it receives, but from the very act of expressing the overflow of the heart. With that in mind, I say to you, go and create something! And while you’re at it, celebrate the creativity of another person, which can only create blessing.
Create blessing. I think I’ve just found a new motto.