Creating: Digging & Planting

Creativity_LLB

My hands were completely a mess. I was in the backyard with all my paints, pencils, and sketchbook. Everything around me was ravishing and eagerly waiting to be brought to life through pen and paper. The dirt I sat on didn’t phase me as I gazed at the flowers in my dad’s tiny garden and drew the spectacular beauty before me. These were no Monet paintings, but they were made form the very depths of who I was. They brought my heart to life. They were me.  As a little girl, creativity was my identity. In school I wasn’t known for my basketball skills (which are literally non-existent), but for my art skills. I hung out with my art teacher and worked on projects with her during our breaks. I embraced every poster project as an opportunity to make something beautiful. I will never forget doing a project on Mother Teresa in middle school. I painted a watercolor portrait of Mother Teresa on white poster board as if it were my chance to show the world the beauty of this woman’s life through paper and brush.

Creating has always been a way of life to me. Now that I own a creative business, I have realized how creativity can quickly change from being a work of art that comes from the soul to a day job. When creativity becomes a job, it loses life,  joy, and authenticity. Recently, I’ve been reclaiming the joy of creating like I did when I was a little girl. Through owning a small business that relies heavily on creativity in both painting and writing, God has fine-tuned in me what it means to create and how we are to glorify Him through creativity.

Are you ready to get a little messy with me?

Together we are going to breakdown the steps of the creative process as well as examine our hearts in creativity.

Envisioning

The art of creating is a lot like gardening. It first begins with a bunch of dirt. But the eye sees more than dirt, it sees the potential of the garden and the blooms. Similarly, the artist looks at a blank canvas or sketchbook with the same ambition. The blank space is merely an opportunity to makes something glorious. It is invigorating! Writers feel this same exhilaration when opening a blank document and seeing the cursor blink. The possibilities are endless as their fingers type and put together letters to make words and eventually a story.

Creating first begins with a vision, a dream, and an idea. You have to get your hands dirty and be willing to work hard. Dan Cathy described creativity in this way: "Creativity and commitment go hand in hand. The more committed we are to a trade or endeavor, the more inspiration we tend to find." Creativity not only requires a LOT of hard work and commitment, but it also involves vulnerability. Learning to be vulnerable in creating is an act of trusting God that the ideas are His and the outcome is His. When I first created the Give Me Jesus journal, I was a heap of insecurities. Thoughts raced through my mind about what others would think - Would they like the journal? Would the artwork go well with it? What if the design isn’t good? These thoughts almost kept me from pressing print and getting it made. Embracing vulnerability is an act of worship. It is surrendering and praying, “God, I trust You to use this for Your glory.”

However, we have to be careful and constantly check our hearts to know that the vision or the idea came from the Lord and not someone else. When I first started my business and was creating necklaces and headbands, I admit to looking to what others were doing and trying to recreate it. I would scroll through Etsy and thinking to myself - I could make that. There are two problems that present themselves here. 1. The idea wasn’t original. 2. I wasn’t creating something that came from the Lord. 

When we create by copying others, we rob our sisters in Christ of an amazing work of God as well as ourselves.God is an original God. He is the Creator of creativity. We must look constantly to Him for ideas, creativity, and ask what He has called us to do. In the business of creating for God’s glory, the lines can get blurry at this step. Last year my friend Val wrote an incredible blog post on Creativity, Copycats, and Christians. In her post, Val said this powerful statement: “If He really did inspire us, He’ll also give us creativity to make it completely unique and not a copycat.” She challenged women to check their hearts, pray for other creatives, and truly look to Christ for creativity and not copying other women.

One way that God has revolutionized my heart in this area is to learn to champion my sisters who are also creating. There are certain products I won’t create because I have seen women make them and want to support them. Val created an amazing prayer journal that I use and highly recommend. Instead of creating my own prayer journal, I want to champion her and share about her art and journals! Constantly asking the Lord who we can support and pray for is a beautiful part of creating in the Christian industry.

Digging also requires asking questions and breaking down the idea. Here are questions I ask myself before making any product:

  • Has this been done before?Where did my inspiration come from? We have to constantly check our hearts when we create to discern if the idea came from another creative. When I began dreaming about the Give Me Jesus journal, the idea first came when I was having my quiet time. I was looking for a journal to use that would stir my affections for Christ and God led me to create one. The ideas and layout for the journal came from me spending time with my sketchbook and Bible drawing out what I saw in my mind so that every aspect was authored by the Lord.
  • What is my motive in creating this product? Is it to glorify the Lord or glorify myself? Our motives can never be to make much of ourselves or even to become rich. Creating for God’s glory is a humbling and holy process and must be done with the cross of Christ at the forefront of our minds.
  • What steps do I need to take for this idea to become a reality? At this step, I ask a LOT of questions. I seek advice from my design friends as well as friends who will tell me the truth about ideas. The Give Me Jesus journal was created through a lot of prayer, testing, and study. I spent weeks studying what quiet times should look like according to Scripture and created the journal from that time spent asking the Lord what it should look like. The journal went through several stages before the final result was made.

Prayer is key in creating. God pays attention to details and loves creativity. We should rely on Him to guide us and direct us in the process.

Planting

The next step of creativity is planting the tiny seed and then trusting God to grow it. This is where we let go. Clicking send on a final product is one of the scariest moments for a creative. This is where we learn to walk on water with Jesus.No good thing ever happened without risk - including creating. The planting step takes time. Businesses aren’t grown overnight. Ideas don’t come together in a day. Planting is a yielding to God’s timing and embracing the wait. 

Trusting God to water big dreams requires trust and humility. Leaving the seed in the ground and letting it grow is humbling, but it is necessary. Trust God to water your dreams and grow them into plants that bring Him glory! I love the description in Isaiah 61 of God's people becoming “oaks of righteousness.” Oak trees take hundreds of years to grow to their incredible stature. And yet they are immovable, firm, and steadfast. Their branches praise God, their Maker. We want our dreams to reach high over the years and make much of Jesus.

Pruning

One of the last steps of the creative process is pruning. This step is often a surprise and soul scrubbing. With new products, creations, posts, and books, comes the danger of becoming prideful and self-sufficient. Any plant that is grown needs to be tended by the gardener and pruned so that it might continue to grow. John 15 describes Jesus as the Vine and His father as the Vinedresser. We are simply the branches. We need to be pruned and for God to take His clippers and cut away what is selfish in our hearts. Having open hands with our products and our businesses gives God the perfect opportunity to make them into avenues for His glory to be displayed. 

I want to challenge all of my creative friends to embrace the digging, the planting, the watering, the waiting, and the watering of your dreams. Every step of the process has an eternal weight of glory. They are all necessary. Keep your eyes on the Lord, the Creator of creativity and don’t be afraid to take one step at a time to make your dreams become a reality. Test your heart when you create and begin first with Christ. Look to the Lord and His creation for inspiration, and create from the depths of your heart. I am doing this with you! Let’s hand over our creativity to the Lord to use for His glory and His kingdom.

God has much to do through your hands and your heart. Let's give Him our best and create for His glory with eternity in mind!

Creating with you for His glory,

Gretchen