Art interrupts the standard frequency in which we live. It cuts through the surface and invites us into a more intimate setting. The provocative nature of art is a gift to faith and an important tool for spiritual growth. The creative process, specifically, is an invitation to examine our souls. It forces us to shed light in every corner and expose the hurt we so diligently hide. This is an uncomfortable setting, but it is also a fruitful one. We cannot overcome what is kept hidden. Unearthing brokenness, gives us the ability to heal. It is an opportunity to attend to the pieces that bar us from freedom. Our nature convinces us to rush through these steps, focusing only on the end result. In contrast, the artistic process glorifies the in-between moments that lead us where we’re going. The journey itself is celebrated and the attention to detail along the way makes sure we arrive whole when we reach our destination.
In my own journey, creative writing helps me recognize and eliminate unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. In the vulnerable spaces of the artistic process, I dissect my most influential ideas. Investigating the motivators for my feelings and actions allows me to separate the beneficial from the toxic. The undoing is uncomfortable and ongoing. Despite chronic hand cramps and countless pages of chicken scratch, I am still just beginning this practice. It challenges my patience and endurance, as I weed out the noxious influences and repair the resulting holes. The majority of my foundational roots can be traced back to childhood. These influences affect my decisions, even when they contradict my overall beliefs. The most dangerous convince me that intellect and faith cannot coexist and that God’s goodness is untrustworthy. These lies are dangerous because they threaten to fracture and, therefore, compromise my identity. I stumbled upon this problem when I started writing publicly and encountered an inconsistent voice. Initially, I thought it was an issue of discovery. I believed, if I wrote long enough, eventually I would find said voice. Actually, it was an issue of my identity.
I struggle to rest in God’s mercy. I am uncomfortable with God’s generosity and, therefore, attempt to earn His sacrifice. There are many issues with this religious posture. My fallible self is incapable of repaying God and I was never meant to. Any attempt to do so leads to debilitating disappointment and shame. My misconception that God’s love and grace are conditional, bred falsehoods in understanding my identity. I believed certain issues were not welcome in the church and certain struggles could not befall a Christian. As a result, I walked around divided—somewhere between a legalistic subordinate to a damning god and a shame riddled member of humanity. This division affected my ability to write in an authentic voice. I was either conveying the honest struggles of humanity while omitting the hope of Christ, or I was spewing flowery scripture without any depth or vulnerability. Neither voice was honest and the facade could not stand long. As quickly as it began, my first blogging attempts fizzled out.
I took my inability to find my voice as a sign to stop writing. I walked away willingly, but God had others plans. Over the next few years, He used the creative process to communicate. As I encountered Him through His word, He revealed the before mentioned lies. He displayed His character through His faithfulness to the disciples of ancient days and His faithfulness to me. He showed up, even when I didn’t. I started writing down my prayer requests and learnings about God. They became mile markers for the growth and goodness He provided. Scriptural truths and daily encounters with God’s mercy slowly replaced the deep rooted lies. As I sat in His presence, He helped me expose and inspect each thought, encouraging me to untangle every contradiction. I began to understand that His love did not rely on my obedience. I need not cower in fear of a God looking to punish. Instead, through His word, He longs to heal and free me from the pain and pressure of this world. God uses all of our stories and gifts. He does not wish to make less of us, by restricting intellect and talent, but He desires to stretch and complete us. The Bible, written by obedient men, inspired by a creative God, has the power to heal and expand the soul.
The creative process helps me benefit fully from God’s life giving message. Made in the image of a creative God, I get to take advantage of this practice. He was the first artist when He created the heavens and the earth. Long before we disregarded His beautiful creation, God designed a solution for our rebellious souls. How fitting that He would bless us with an artistic outlet to navigate this life. In learning to discern God’s voice, I found my own. A voice that speaks in the tension where the brokenness of this world meets the hope of a Savior.