How I Rediscovered Creativity and Resurrected My Passion

creativity

A little over a year ago, a mentor of mine told me that God was getting ready to wreck me – that He was going to knock down the structures I had built in my life and rebuild them from the ground up.

Well, that wrecking came a few months ago. Somewhere in the middle of my crazy fall semester of 18 credit hours, working part time, and volunteering several hours a week, I began to crumble. Exhausted, spiritually anemic, and weary to the depths of my soul, I knew something needed to change. I had forgotten how to be a human being and had become a human doing instead. Limping along on busyness and productivity like crutches for my broken heart, I was hiding from a deeper issue – anger and disappointment with God over some things that had happened during the year.

Yet even while I was throwing a spiritual tantrum, He was showing me things – really ugly, uncomfortable things about myself. The more I tried to fix myself and make it feel okay, the worse things became. I thought if I just planned better, tried harder, and accomplished more then maybe I would deserve the things I wanted, maybe I would be enough, and maybe I would be happy. It wasn’t working and I had to stop.

Christmas break finally came and I spent the last few weeks of 2016 slowing, exhaling, letting go, lingering with family, playing, coloring, laughing, listening. I prayed over and over,

Alright, God, I’m done striving and I’m done hiding. What do You want? What should I do now?

And each time I prayed, the unmistakable answer came. Do you trust Me?

I think so…

Then wait.

*sigh* Okay, God.

In the waiting and the resting, my tension and anxiety-bound heart began to unravel. Somewhere in the midst of coloring books and mugs of French press coffee and family reading and lingering conversations, the healing came. For months, years even, I had been finding my value in what I could do and the things I accomplished. But there, sitting around the table with colored pencils and stories and laughter, I found the value of simply being. Something in me began to reawaken.

One of my gifts at Christmas was a book on living a creative life and how the life we live is our greatest work of art. I underlined and highlighted and cried my way through those pages. In them, I found something that I had been denying myself for a long time – permission. Permission to create for the sake of creating. Permission to be creative because that’s how God created me to be. Permission to be artistic, and not just useful.

I grew up in a creative home, but somewhere along the way I had convinced myself that pursuing creativity and art was play and could only be enjoyed when all the work was done (so basically never…there’s always something more important and useful to do, right?). With this deep belief, my inner artist – along with the part of me that dreams and delights and wonders – began to suffocate under responsibilities and obligations and to-do lists. And I wondered why I felt so lifeless. I found little to no passion in my job, relationships, or even the hobbies I once loved.

But this simple and powerful read changed my thinking drastically and shifted something deep within me. I began to realize that I was created by a creative God, who made me in His image and thus designed me to be creative; therefore, He delights in my creativity. The act of being creative in itself glorifies Him. This new thought was revolutionary. I began to explore the idea and the ramifications of living out such a novel belief. It began to make sense, and take root. God intended for me to create beautiful things, just like He does. God is an artist, and so am I.

With the new year came, not resolutions and detailed plans like usual, but instead a commitment to cultivate creativity in my life every day. My word for the year was clear: create. More specifically, create space – space for health (spiritual, mental, and physical), relationships, and creativity to flourish.

At a conference during the first week of 2017, the Lord gave me a mental image of a city leveled to the ground. Where once stood structures and strongholds remained nothing but wreckage; it looked barren. He told me that this is what I looked like at the moment, but it was because He was getting ready to lay new foundations and put up new buildings that will be stronger, taller, and more beautiful than the ones before. I was finally ready.

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I’m recognizing that I am not the architect of my life and that is a good thing, for even my biggest plans and dreams are far inferior to those of my Creator. My job is to listen and to follow His instructions. As I am faithful to lay each board and hammer each nail, He will bring the project to completion, though I may never see the blueprint. Often my hammer slips, catching my thumb and causing pain, or my nail goes in crooked and I have to pry it out and try again, but the Great Architect is deeply patient. He guides and steadies my hand, as He designs a structure more elaborate and beautiful than I could ever image.

And with this conviction, I have begun to lay foundations. Over the past several weeks, I have thought long and hard about my core beliefs and values – the truths that my life is built on – as well as the things I need to let go of, and the way I should structure my days. Living with purpose means being intentional in every area of my life. Learning how to be faithful in these small things is preparing me for the much bigger things that the Lord has planned.

One of the ways I am laying blocks for a firm foundation is by having a daily “morning space.” This is where I recenter, practice letting go, fill myself with truth, and position my heart to be molded and my mind to be renewed. I am also learning how to pray boldly and specifically, both for myself and for those around me. Beginning my days with intention, gratitude, and faith is changing everything, most importantly, the way I see. I don’t do this perfectly, but keep pressing on, standing back up when I falter and taking another step forward. Little by little I am being rebuilt in the quiet and secret spaces, where a foundation always begins.

My creative space is a little less structured, but it is just as centering and strengthening. Through stream-of-conscious journaling, I am learning to show up daily with no judgments, no expectations, and no criticism, just honesty and enough bravery to begin, giving myself permission to think and feel and write whatever comes. I am also rediscovering my love for photography, drawing, and hand lettering with daily practice to hone and sharpen my skills. Baby steps toward big dreams.

Over the past few weeks of pursuing these practices and habits, I have come alive in ways I didn’t think possible. My relationships are far healthier. Fresh dreams and ideas and inspiration come to me on a daily basis. I feel more passionate about life and no longer shrink in fear and anxiety when I think about the future. I don’t know what it holds but the possibilities feel endless and exciting, rather than terrifying and crippling. I am discovering the beauty around me and realizing that the process is far more important than the destination. It’s not where I’m going that matters, but who I become on the journey. And what a glorious, exciting, creative journey it will be.

 

 

I hope that you are inspired through my words today. I hope that you will think about them and be moved to take action, whether it be as simple as starting a new creative project, or as big as rethinking your core beliefs and values. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts or questions or struggles regarding these things. Please feel free to leave me a comment or send me an email.

Also, I am beginning a new creative endeavor over at www.graceelaine.org where I will be focusing more on my creative journey and sharing the things I learn along the way. If you consider yourself to be a creative person, or would like to be one, I would love to connect with you over there. It is a safe space for all creatives and aspiring artists. In addition to that, I am beginning a 100-day creative project where I will be sharing daily work and thoughts over here.

Thank you for sticking with me through this terribly long post! Blessings!

How I Rediscovered Creativity and Resurrected My Passion

The Heart of Simplicity

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rest

noun \ˈrest\

to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength

to depend on, be grounded in

to place hope, trust, or confidence in

an object that is used to support something

I’m coming to realize that simplicity is cultivated from a heart at rest. Trying to minimalize one’s surroundings feels unnatural and unnerving when the heart is in discord. Yet ridding our lives of the unnecessary and making room to breathe is incredibly freeing.

In deliberately resting and making space to abide and contemplate, I allow myself to recenter and therefore am able to move forward from a place of strength.

In early mornings, my lifeblood is found.

A life of true simplicity will flow out a heart that is deeply content, trusting, and grateful.

You’ve probably heard it said: You have enough. You are enough. You know enough.

But I’m suggesting this:

You have enough because God is enough and that is all you need to know.

Situations where we feel inadequate are what teach us to “let go and let God.”

The Father invites us into waters beyond our reach so that we may learn the depth of His grace. Embracing rest allows us to stop treading water and simply trust being buoyed by His empowerment.

Whenever I think of rest, Isaiah 30:15 is the first verse that comes to mind.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’”

I did a little research on the Hebrew word that translates to rest in this verse. It is only used a handful of times in the Old Testament but two of the passages in particular containing this word stood out to me.

He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.” Job 36:16

That imagery is so stunning. I keep reading and rereading it.

Space. Freedom. Comfort. Good food. Abundance.

What a beautiful invitation to rest.

Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

This passage is basically the essence of living simply and within your means, because it gives a perfect example of incorporating the profound concept of rest into our lives – learning to be content with less so we can stop striving after the things we don’t need.

When I have less to take care of, I spend less time maintaining it all and am able to pursue the things that really matter to me. When I spend less time on unnecessary obligations, I have more time to give to the people I love.

“Most of what we do and say is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?’” –Marcus Aurelius

I’ve been asking that question a lot lately. When it comes down to it, what really matters?

Who doesn’t want to rid their days of unnecessary clutter and have more space to be and know and learn?

I certainly do.

Ultimately it comes down to defining what is most important to you. What are your values? Your dreams? What would you strive to do if you could not fail? If time and money were not factors, what would you do?

How to begin cultivating a life of Simplicity:

  1. Learn what rest means for you and make it a habit – early morning solitude, reading, prayer, yoga, a quietly enjoyed meal, unobtrusive music, anything that leaves you refreshed and calm. Think of it as investing in yourself so you have more to give to the people around you.
  2. Define what truly matters to you – your most important values, your specific goals, your dreams, ect. Narrow it down to no more than the essential 4-5. This will become your manifesto.
  3. Let go of everything else – this is a process, and one that I am still very much in the middle of. Don’t expect to wake up with a simple life tomorrow morning. It takes time and work and willingness to make hard choices but nothing worth doing ever comes easy. Remember that.

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on the idea of habitual rest and how it relates to living simply. Leave a comment below and we can chat. 🙂

The Heart of Simplicity