I’m a lover of spoken word poetry and there has always been one poem that has stuck within my heart and propelled me to challenge how I perceive the world around me. It’s a poem by Propaganda entitled, Too Creative. He opens it up with the line, “I was recently told I was too creative.” This simple statement forces me to constantly look at what I’m doing and examine whether I’m operating in the fullness of the creative nature God has instilled within me. If I’m made in His image then I have an obligation to embrace His level of creativity which thought up and molded the entire universe we live in. And in this recent season of my life, I’ve discovered that even when I think I’m being creative, I’m actually limited by the normality of my routines and behaviors. These three things have helped me break through my normality and into a greater level of creativity.
1. Examine Your Normal
This past summer, I was asked to write Unpack Notes for Grow Church’s fall Grow Group semester. For the first few weeks, I found myself staring at my computer late into the night of my deadline. I struggled to find what seemed like the proper words to convey my pastor’s heart. I quickly got frustrated at the extensiveness of this project as it took time away from my wife during one of the few nights we had together. It was at this point that I had to ask myself, “Why is this taking me so long? What is causing my thoughts to be translated into mush as they traveled from my brain onto my computer screen?” It was then that I began to examine my normal. My normal was me sitting down with an empty Word document. My normal consisted of my fingers moving quicker than the thoughts in my head. My normal contained more backspace clicking than I would ever want to admit. My normal canvas became endless after a few clicks of the enter button, along with a quick copy and paste. I came to find out my normal - which was influenced by my ability to type faster than my thoughts could be completed and an endless amount of space to write in - was the reason I strove to complete a final draft. Yet, I had no idea how to change it.
2. Embrace the Unusual
My wife, Bella, and myself enjoy leaving each other notes with Expo marker on our bathroom mirror. So naturally, there’s always an Expo marker on our bathroom counter. One night, still struggling to escape my normal, I decided I was tired of pulling my hair out and would wake up early the next morning and publish my unpack notes before anyone woke up. If they weren’t awake, they wouldn’t miss them. As I was brushing my teeth, the Holy Spirit downloaded the message I had been struggling to convey. Afraid these thoughts would escape my mind by the time I finished getting ready for bed, I aggressively snatched the Expo marker off the counter and began writing on the mirror. By the time I was done brushing my teeth, everything I had just been struggling to express was elegantly staring back at me. I recapped the marker and went to bed. The good news was I didn’t have to wake up as early. The bad news was this same chain of events transpired the next week. The better news is through the unusual, God began to break through my normality and pour a new level of creativity into my writing.
Everything about standing in front of a mirror to write in 2018 seemed unusual. Not only did I abandon my computer, but I totally bypassed a pen and paper. I trapped myself in what is probably the most uncomfortable room to every house. Yet what seemed unusual was God leading me to a place where my canvas was limited, my writing moved at the same pace of my thoughts and I lacked the ability to erase the words He gave me before my sentences were completed. And after two weeks of struggling to write using my normal medium, I ditched my computer and embraced my marker and mirror because I realized it wasn’t my creativity that was lacking. The words I wanted to write were in my head. My pastor’s heart resonated within mine. It was the normality and comfort in sitting in front of my computer that caused my creativity to remain hidden; and only by embracing this unusual, yet creative method of expression was I going to see it flourish. And it did. For the next 10 weeks I began my writing on my mirror. God knew what was getting in my way and He had my solution.
3. Maintain Your Identity
Writing on a mirror is unusual yes, but it still is writing. As I challenged myself to go examine my normal and embrace the usual, I had to hold onto who I am. - a writer. I believe in the excitement to think outside the box and embrace what doesn’t make sense there is also a pull to abandon all sense and see what happens. Yet even in God’s creativity He always remains the same and so must we.
This past weekend I was interceding at Grow Church’s Freedom Conference. (Quick shout out to Church of the Highlands for this amazing conference). At one point I felt lead to pray over the women. The Holy Spirit lead me pray that the women would believe God created them to be beautiful. I asked God to pick up fresh clay and fill in the cracks of their broken beauty, believing in that moment the women were being held in the Potter’s hands. And as I asked for God to do so before I knew it the words, “just as Jesus did with the dirt and His spit,” fell from my lips (John 9:6). In that moment, God revealed such a beautiful revelation. In what we often consider to be one of God’s most creative moments as Jesus mixed spit and dirt to bring a blind man sight, He was operating out of His nature of being the Potter. Even in the most unusual of miracles, God still maintained His identity.
So my question to you is, are there things in your life that used to come so naturally that you now struggle with? What normalities of your life may be limiting your creativity? Are you looking for the unusual?