I’ve recently been reading and listening to the work of Dr. Brene’ Brown, the increasingly popular University of Houston professor known for her study of courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Her work is fascinating. She brings a conversation to the forefront that nobody else is engaging in because, quite frankly, it’s uncomfortable. Dr. Brown, however, speaks on it in a fashion that allows us all to get past the discomfort and start looking deeply into this powerful subject matter.
This week, I heard something that really got me thinking. I’ll paraphrase what she said because I don’t have a direct quote. In talking about creativity, Dr. Brown pointed out that as humans, we all have creativity. It is part of what makes us human. She goes on to say that people that are living their lives whole-heartedly are exercising their creativity in some form. They have an effective creativity outlet. This is important because unused creativity doesn’t dissipate, it metastasizes. It transforms into something that is dangerous for us, damaging to our character. It then spills out as rage and bitterness among other things.
She goes on to say that many people who do not practice creativity don’t do so because of a traumatic shaming event that took place when they were younger. They were “art shamed” in school. It might have been a coloring project, a painting, a sculpture, a piece of music, a poem. The medium doesn’t matter. The pain of that event echoes throughout their life to the point that they no longer want to put themselves in a spot of vulnerability and risking being shamed. I know for a fact that I have art shamed some folks over the years. (That reminds me. I need to find the young lady that wrote that ridiculous poem about a shopping cart in the Freshmen English class I was teaching, and I need to apologize for art shaming her.) Creativity requires vulnerability. And that’s hard!
This idea resonated with me because of The Stray Shepherd blog. Most people do not know that I have been blogging in the shadows for about 12 years now over here. I post when the desire hits, but I am always reluctant to share any of it publicly. I have dabbled in creative writing over the past 30 years, and I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve let read any of it. Why? I guess deep down, I am afraid of being “art shamed.” But here I am, 45 years-old, feeling courageous, and finally, as Dr. Brown puts it, “getting into the arena.” I have this desire to create and I am now willing to be vulnerable with it. She defines vulnerability as “showing up and letting yourself be seen.” I’d be lying if I said my palms don’t get a little sweaty every time I push that “Publish” button. However, I will put my work out there and let myself be seen. My hope is to be an example for others.
My daughter is a gifted artist. She earned a degree in Graphic Design, and she has a knack for seeing the world around her through an immensely creative lens. She recently told me of a project that she stopped doing because somebody didn’t like how it turned out, even though there are plenty of others that absolutely love it. I told her that as an artist there will always be people in both camps when it comes to her work—those that love it and those that don’t. That’s OK. She just needs to create, and if she isn’t getting paid for something specific, create whatever she wants, however she wants. Do what you love! Don’t ever stop creating. Put yourself out there and let yourself be seen.
Then it hit me! We are created by the Creator. . . in His image! Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” We were created in the image of our Creator. Our characteristics are derived from His. We are meant to be creative! And when we are creative, we reflect that characteristic of our God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
I wrote all of that to say this. When you exercise your creativity, (write, draw, paint, knit, scrapbook, compose, etc.) you are not just engaging in an act of vulnerability. You are engaging in an act of worship! God is magnified and glorified in your creativity! So, get in the arena and get creative!
Are you creating? If not, why? Be encouraged today to do something creative, even if it’s just for an audience of One. Are you an “art shamer?” Let’s knock that off and start appreciating the creativity in others whether it fits our preference or not.