One of my first memories of art class was using small, blunted safety scissors to cut pictures out of magazines. I would make collages to represent life as I knew it as a six-year-old. Later would come shoeboxes covered in dry pasta, macramé braided wall hangings, and scarves knitted so tight the needles would squeak.
As a child, I showed my works to anyone who would sit long enough for me to say, “Hey, look what I made!” In my teens, I graduated to glue guns and watercolors, but I became self-conscious about my creations and learned to put my sketchbook away when I was done.
I found myself trying harder and always coming up short. Not artistic enough, never talented enough, not good enough. Like so many things, I made it all about me. My deficits, my shortcomings, my failures. Somehow, I never measured up.
But expressing myself creatively has nothing to do with measuring and yet I make it all about comparison. Dabbing acrylics onto a canvas reveals less about what I paint and more about my own ego. My stuff’s not as nice, I’m not as talented.
As a grew older, I realized that my creative ability is stunted because my concept of God is too small.
Scripture tells us of an immense God.
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
He spoke and we came to be. In the beginning God created . . . and of course we know that following his creations, he declared them good.
When I finally get off the pity paint pot and the focus of my imagination and inspiration move away from myself and on to God, the possibilities for my creativity become limitless. Gone is the egocentric search to prove my worth and giftedness, and it’s replaced by a freedom to live into my gifts of creativity.
Am I still going to want to toot my own horn? Probably. But the difference between that and allowing God to get the glory for any creativity with which he’s gifted me is the difference between those old safety scissors on construction paper and the limitless tools of an Artist who is working on his masterpiece.
Cover image by Baptist Standaert.