Why I Choose To Be Thin-Skinned

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King David was a king, a warrior, and a man after God’s own heart.  He was also an artist, a musician and a writer. Who else but a sensitive person with an artistic heart could have written so many heart felt psalms? Who else but a talented artist could have played so skillfully that demons fled from Saul as he listened? The church needs artists today. We need people who cry when listening to beautiful pieces of music. We need people who stop running so frantically and see the beauty, hurt, and awe around us. We need people who pay more attention to God’s creation than business plans. We need people who feel deeply and have the ability to communicate those feelings to the rest of us.

Rory Noland, in The Heart of the Artist, writes that “Everyone with an artistic temperament has been told at some point in his or her life to develop a thicker skin. That’s nonsense! The world doesn’t need more thick-skinned people. It needs more people who are sensitive and tender.” I agree with Rory’s sentiment for the most part. I suggest that artists, in the church, need to be thin-skinned people when experiencing beauty and hearing from God but then be willing to put on spiritual full-body armor when experiencing evaluation, criticism, and spiritual warfare.

I am a firm believer that God determines what He wants someone to do by who He made them to be. I also believe that everyday, as we grow closer to Him, experience life’s victories and defeats, learn new skills, and tolerate pain and resistance, that we are in a constant state of becoming.  So, the two questions are, “Who did God create you to be?” and “How has God being creating you recently?” 

Did He create you to be an artist of some kind?  Then keep reading.

The world pushes artists of all kinds down from the time they are young.  Think about it.  Adults ignore or laugh at children’s artwork when presented to them, kids taking artistic lessons are often downplayed by those in sports leagues, Jr. High students are merciless in their teasing of classmates trying to express themselves in any creative way, high school and college standards weed out those who simply want to create art for enjoyment, and then adulthood comes along and presents us with the immediate priorities of financial obligations, thank you very much. I know, I know. Life happens and people have to grow up and find real jobs in order to stay alive. That’s true, but what fun is life if there isn’t some kind of beauty we can experience along the way? What good is the money we make if we are numb to art and beauty?

I want to encourage artists, especially those in the church, to not be afraid of your own sensitivity. Feel what’s going on around you. Experience it. Live it. Make it a part of you.  Then communicate it to the world around you in beautiful, unique ways. Write, sing, sculpt, paint, draw, play, act, compose, speak, direct, form, whatever…

Just don’t stop. 

If you do, it’s not just you who loses. 

It’s all of us.  

 

Don’t You Dare Stop

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What’s the first thing we learn about God?

When we read the first five words of the Bible, we don’t learn that God is loving or forgiving or convicting or beautiful, even though He is all those things. Instead, we read:  In the beginning, God created…

He created the heavens and the earth. He made the plants and the sky and deepest of oceans. He made the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. And then, He made us in His image, a true work of art.

If we’re made in God’s image, then we are creative.

Most of us believed this when we were children. We created joyfully. But then something happened.

Someone laughed at our creations. We saw the creative work of others and thought we could never rise to their level. People started praising the creative efforts of younger people and forgot about us. Our friends gave up on their creative pursuits and pressured us to join them. We experienced loss and decided to set it aside for a few days. Then, of course, we were distracted by bills, tv, family, work, social media, traffic…  and suddenly, we quit trying to be creative. It became easier to just exist.

 

 

Then, years later, we look back at our creative desires and chuckle, wondering why we ever pursued creativity in the first place. However, somewhere, deep inside of ourselves, we don’t laugh. We ache and long for yesteryear, because we realize we’ve lost a vital part of who God made us to be.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We can be creative again. It may be different from our earlier creative pursuits, but it’s time to take our first steps. It’s time to create something. It doesn’t matter if the creation is music, clay, words, paint, furniture, string, or bacon, it’s time for us to get out there and create.

 

Then, after we start, we can’t stop. We have to keep trying, keep improving, keep living, and keep creating. We can’t dare stop.

It’s who God made us to be.

 

The Biggest Problem With Creativity

At a recent conference, I learned about the biggest problem with creativity. Here it is:

People want creativity to be like this

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People most often want creativity to be linear – straight from the need to the end result. Archimedes said that the shortest distance between two objects is a straight line. That seems to make sense, right? If that is so, creativity should work like that too, correct? We should have the ability to be creative on demand with our best ideas, right?

It may work that way for some, but most often not.

Creativity is really more like this

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The best creativity comes from a crockpot instead of a microwave. The best creativity involves starting with an idea, allowing your to marinate (ponder) what you have, making adjustments along the way, and finally coming to a finished product.

The secret is giving yourself time to ponder, edit, soak, and revise.

 

The First Thing We Learn About God

Oxygen Volume 14

So what’s the first thing we learn about God?

Whenever we read the five words of the Bible, we don’t learn that God is loving or forgiving or convicting or beautiful, even though He is all those things.

Instead, we read:  In the beginning God created

Emily P. Freeman writes The first thing we know about God is He made art.

What is the first thing we know about people?

We were made in the image of God.* 

So what does that make us?

If we’re made in the image of God, then we are creative.

Most of us believe this when we are children.

But then something happens.

Life happens.

Someone laughs at us.

We see someone else who is more creative than us (in our opinion)

Our favorite show comes on, so we give up and quit trying.

Through it all, we lose our creative spark.

We lose our creative desire.

We lose part of who we are.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can change it.

Don’t stop creating.

Remember who you are.

Hold on to who God called you to be.

No matter how you do it, create something.

It doesn’t matter if it’s music notes, clay, words, paint, string or bacon.

Keep creating.

Don’t stop.

Don’t let anyone take it from you.

It’s who God made you to be.

*A Million Little Ways