For People Who Feel They Fail At Creativity, And For We Who Battle Depression.

A few minutes earlier, I tweeted:

But what counts as “creating?” What if you aren’t a “creative” person?

There are two things we know:

1) God’s first recorded action was to create. His first creation was planet earth, and us.
2) He created us in His image.

This means that He created us with both the desire AND the ability to create.

* * *

I would argue that one of the greatest lies we can believe is that we aren’t a creative person.

The only way we can possibly come to this conclusion is by comparing ourselves to others.

I can’t draw like he can.
I can’t paint like she does.
I can’t decorate like they do.
I can’t design things like she did.
I can’t take pictures like that.
I can’t sing as well as everyone else who “sings.”

Believe, if you wish, that you aren’t like someone else. But DO NOT believe that your differences make you Less Than, or None At All.

* * *

I know from my personal experience with life and with depression that creativity is the greatest weapon we will ever have against depression. And it makes sense that this is true.

Depression is when the loss of hope has become so complete, we have loss of Self. Loss of value, loss of perception of who we are. Death.

Creativity is the expression of self. Not in an ego-way, but in an I-proved-that-I-am-an-individual-because-without-me-this-couldn’t-exist. Creativity proves self. Proves value. Proves life.

Creativity has the power to disprove much of what we’ve believed that has led to our depression.

* * *

So, we decide to believe that God created us to be like Him, to create. We realize that creativity is necessary to our emotional survival. So we realize we have the desire to be creative, but we…can’t.

Maybe we need to make sure we have the right definitions of creativity.

Creativity: The use of the imagination, or the use of original ideas, especially in the production of artistic work.

Create: To bring something into existence. To cause something to happen as a result of one’s actions.

Creative: Relating to or involving the imagination.

Art: The expression or application of human creative imagination, typically in a visual form. Works produced by imagination.

Artistic: Having or revealing natural creative skill.

Skill: An ability, particularly to do something well.

 

IF YOU IMAGINE, YOU CREATE. IF YOU SCRIBBLE, YOU CREATE.

IF YOU MAKE SOMEONE CARE FOR ANOTHER BECAUSE OF YOUR OUTRAGEOUS ACT OF LOVE FOR THEM, YOU CREATE.

* * *

As you read those definitions, you will realize that you possess Creativity. You have the ability to Create. You are Creative. You have made Art. You are Artistic.

The ONLY PLACE you are hung up is on your definition and understanding of skill. And the very nature of skill can exist only in relation to others. The perception we have of skill is defined with and by Comparison.

That is good. That is beautiful. It is motivating, it is inspiring. It encourages growth, collaboration. It allows us to perceive our progress.

But if skill and comparison have locked handcuffs on your wrists, laced their wires behind your back and up your arms, if they have crept into your mind, darkened your eyes…

—then fear has beat out Love in your life.

And that battle is one you must fight in the silence of your heart with Love, with Salvation, with Self.

It is a battle that demands insolence, anger, pain, and rebellion from you. Yes. I said that.

Insolence towards the voice that keeps you from creating, anger towards Death, pain to spur you into action, and rebellion to shout, “I CAN CREATE. I will. I will. Even amidst fear, even despite the loss of love, even in confusion, and in failure.”

Depression and Apathy are sisters, and in their family, Anger, Pain and Rebellion are the three strongest motivators in any direction. Use them, and use them well.

* * *

A few thoughts on processing creativity, and on allowing depression to move outwards:

- There is no grief too extreme for God
- There is no pain you cannot overcome
- Scaring yourself is okay
- God cannot be offended or disappointed by you
- The emotions now allowed to live will not be able to die
- All things can be destroyed after they are created
- God shows no favoritism
- That which is created by you will be subject to no favoritism or partiality or comparison
- Negative feelings are not sinful
- Cliches are found in everyone’s feelings; do not be ashamed of them; do not feel ‘lame’
- Everyone feels pain in its different weights, even if caused by different things
- Doubt, fear, pain must exist in order for faith, love, and joy to exist
- Negative emotions are proof that we are whole in our emotional state
- Wholeness is necessary for health
- God feels and expresses anger, grief, pain, compassion, hurt

* * *

A word on originality: If you have not acted out strongly before, or reflected upon yourself well, you may find it difficult to know who you are. If your actions are laden with Safety, with Good Reputation, then it may be difficult for you to see yourself as an original person.

It’s important to remember that even Solomon knew “there is nothing new under the sun.” Your originality comes not in what you output, but in the cells that make up your body. God may be the sole owner of what is New, Wholly Unique, Original, and Perfect – but YOU are what he has made that is New, Wholly Unique, Original, and Perfect.

This allows you to create as a way of playing, as an expression of self in joy (the end goal) – and releases you from the need to create to prove yourself. You have already attained what everyone else is trying to prove.

* * *

What are ways of Creating, being Creative, and experiencing Creativity that we do not typically identify when we think of “art?”

Please comment.

*NOTE: As someone with clinical depression in my family, and someone who has needed anti-depressants for seasons in my life, I understand that creativity is not the single “solution,” but also that it is very powerful in all scenarios and causations for depression. If you have people you trust in your life who are recommending that you try an anti-depressant, I recommend it. We are whole beings, and it is important to incorporate things like creativity, medication, prayer, etc when wrestling with depression – in the same way that BOTH diet changes & physical activity are necessary for physical health.

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  1. writing is my biggest form of creativity, especially when it comes to battling with my feelings. it’s the only way i can truly release what’s going on inside of my head. not simply writing, but *creative* writing-getting out those crazy, manic feelings in a beautiful way, so that they aren’t so scary anymore.

  2. Kirstie says:

    This is so encouraging Lauren. I know that I’ve struggled with comparison. I haven’t started things I’ve dreamed of doing, or have given up halfway because it doesn’t shape up to the standard I imagine to be ‘creative’. I don’t let the dream unfold without question long enough to really see what it looks like.

    Creativity is inside of our DNA. We are created beings, we are made in the image of a Creator. Perhaps creativity springs from more of letting ourselves ‘be’ instead of measuring our worth against productivity or comparison; what we can ‘do’

  3. I love this, Lauren. Thank you so much for writing it. I think one trap I get stuck in is making lots of stuff, fast (blog posts, specifically) and thinking it’s a creative outlet. But it’s not. It drains me rather than fuels me, and I need to slow down and create something that’s actually beautiful, rather than just slapping stuff on a page. I need to remember there’s a difference between productivity and creativity.

  4. Kayla says:

    In my darkest days, without really thinking about it being “creative,” I took up painting my nails as something to do for me and to bring me joy, and baking as something to do to serve others and express love for others as best I could.

  5. Sophie says:

    Thanks for this Lauren! I will never again say that I am not creative … I cannot write, sing, paint, draw, play an instrument but I can create things on Microsoft Excel that runs our entire business! So I guess now I can say my graphs and algorithms are works of art ;-)

  6. Adrian says:

    Thanks for putting these words together. I tend to let my depression rob me of my creative spirit when it should be used to combat it.

  7. Rinu says:

    Thank you so much for this – so timely! I have struggled with creativity for a long time, and still struggle a lot with it.

    I’m a dancer and am trying to become a better choreographer but I find it almost impossible to be creative. For me personally it’s because of comparing myself to other people and struggling with jealousy (have done that pretty much all my life). Although I’ve recently stopped believing the lie that I’m not creative and I compare myself with others a lot less now, I still struggle to create. I think I personally just need to spend more time at my craft.

  8. Priscilla says:

    I love this!!! And I don’t know where I saw it, but I’m pretty sure you said something somewhere about creating pretty things, and it made me think awhile back when I saw it. (Twitter, your tumblr, this blog or Good Women project….somewhere, haha!!) But your words made me want to do exactly that: create pretty things. I didn’t used to be crafty or creative or anything that made sense to me. But within the last 2 years, between a very sad breakup and economic changes and deaths in the family, God has used all of these to help me reach for something to help and He put creativity in me and helped me make sense of it all. I am now making cards to sell, and even in that He keeps defining it. I’m just now making product to sell, I’m hoping for an inventory before I actually make it more public by going to little boutiques in my area. I wanted to share one of my recent posts with you so you could see the pretty things I’ve created. I take no credit, I know it’s God’s gift and He has made such beautiful things with my hands. And I’m not trying to sell anything. Just show you.

    All this to say, I completely agree with your view on creativity. I’m living proof of just such a thought. And creating pretty things has helped me sooo much!!! You’re right, it helps depression in ways that are so special!!!! And He has used your little quote to help me understand it can be done, and many friends and even my little cards to minister to me in the process. It’s the sweetest thing!!!! And I agree, He is the Creator and we are made in His image. So create!!! :)

  9. Priscilla says:

    Oops, forgot to post the link!!!

    Here is my post about this very thing:

    http://walkingbarefootblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/he-makes-all-things-new/

    Blessings and much much joy to you!!!!

  10. Priscilla says:

    Oh!! My thoughts on your last question:

    Working out can be creative, moving furniture around can also be creative. Watering plants can be. I love the comment about the Excel creations!!! :) forming new friendships, etc!!!

    My sisterinlaw bakes!!! She’s good at it, too!!! She loves it and I see such creativity in her stuff!!

  11. shawn says:

    this is the battle I fight weekly, sometimes daily. some days creativity & art win and some days darkness & depression win. regardless of how absurd it may sound, there are moments I wish that I never found the creativity within me. sometimes the idea of living a bland existence completely ignorant of creativity and inspiration sounds far more appealing, because I observe other people living out that existence all the time. (comparison in the opposite direction?) unfortunately I know the words of this post all to well. thank you for writing such a concise and heartfelt piece.

  12. Marilyn (mom) says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this topic, Lauren! So many of my days I think the Spirit tugs on me to spend more time – enjoying being creative! The demands of the day can easily keep me from this joyful and therapeutic activity. Thank you for writing! It is just one of your many creative outlets and I’m thrilled you get to make a living doing such!

  13. i love trying different makeup techniques/colors to express creativity. writing letters/sending greeting cards can be a creative outlet, really just getting anything written down on paper to someone. i’ve recently purchased several essential oils and i’ve been experimenting with making my own perfumes and oil blends.

    thank you so much for writing this. thank you for reaffirming and being another positive voice saying that medication is needed sometimes. thank you for showing people that EVERYONE is creative.

    the line that got me most was: you have already attained what everyone else is trying to prove.

    thank you again for writing!! this is going in my inspiration file!

    <3hannah

  14. Maggie says:

    Although I haven’t had a lot of time to do these things lately. I do like to creatively write and play my flute. I like to sing (very badly) when I can so I try to keep that in the car or in the shower. I’m constantly daydreaming which is kind of bad because I end up not paying attention to the things that I need to pay attention to the most.

    There really isn’t too much that I consider myself to be creative, so I guess those would be my things.

  15. My husband (who follows you on twitter and says he has some vague recollection of conversing once or twice- fellow designer- though I don’t trust that because his memory about conversations is pretty weak) send your link to me thinking I’d enjoy your photography. I want to say I haven’t made it to the photography. I read a recent post, clicked a link over to grief, read your post on getting used to marriage then ended up on your daddy issues post from 2 years ago. Though I’ve never thought I was over it- most days I get along fine, it has been several years after all. Today I’m reminded that I am absolutely fine, and completely wrecked at the same time. I don’t feel my losses often but reading through your posts has reminded me of them. Thank you for how you speak for women. Thank you for how you’ve spoken to this used, abused, fatherless woman who often doesn’t realize that when I’m angry, selfish, self-protecting, or bitter my problem is with my savior, not my circumstances.

  16. Rebecca says:

    This was something I needed to hear today. I have a family history of depression and fought against it myself as well. I’ve been struggling in my creativity recently. I look at so many photographers, artists, and writers online and I fell into the trap of comparing my work against others. And well, I just felt like what I created wasn’t quite good enough. Thank you. This is very inspiring, well written, and hit close to home for me.

  17. jes shaw says:

    thanks, Lauren. <3

  18. Hannah says:

    Thank you for this. <3

  19. Caitlin says:

    I felt so dry before I read this. Thank you, Lauren. A thousand thank you’s.

    I used to find my identity in being a writer. In creating art. Then I become a professional writer. While words came tumbling out, passion started drying up. I started putting myself in a box, choosing to dwell in the shallow side in my personal musings, afraid of the messiness that comes with vulnerability.

    The last few months have been full of emotion that I just don’t know how to process. So I internalize it, keeping things quiet on my blog, and writing only about the mundane. I wondered if I would have to wait for the muse to show up or if my time of personal writing was over.

    No.

    The creative juices are starting to trickle.

    Thank you.

Trackbacks

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