Years ago I started an identity series titled I Am. This year is dedicated to more posts from that series:
I am a creative.
When I was a kid, that meant that I was into a new craft every week. From plasticine to LEGOs and even a stint with crocheting where I actually learned how to do it pretty well. One time I hated the ending of a program I loved and when to bed rewriting the conclusion in my head. It wasn’t long before I discovered that I could write my own stories from scratch.
My first stories were drafted by hand and had blondes with blue eyes for characters. Representation matters. The more I saw people who looked like me and those I know on screens and in books, the more I wanted to write their stories. The more I realised just how invaluable their stories are.
For many years, being a creative meant that I was a writer. Indeed I was and still am. But I find myself in a season where other dimensions of my creativity are finding expression in the most unexpected ways. I catch myself thinking – oh, I’m not this – only to realise I am doing exactly what this does. So it looks like I am this. I am a writer. But I’m not just a writer. There’s more to my creative expression than just my writing. I don’t have to be one dimensional as a creative. All the wells of creativity God placed in me have their place in my life.
Perhaps one of the best things to ever happen to me in my creative journey was to work in a fast-paced corner of the creative industry. I got to see and experience first hand what pressure could do to a creative soul. I walked in thinking – I am a writer, it’s who I am not just what I do. I walked out knowing – I am a writer, it’s what I do and not who I am. Thank God. If I never wrote another word for the rest of my life, I would not cease to exist. My life would not cease to be valuable or meaningful. I am not my work when its at its best or worst and what freedom I’ve found embracing this truth.
Every profession comes with its fair share of battles but the ones tied to the creative expression are exceptionally brutal. Collapsing the work of our hands with the value of our souls makes a gift that should be treasured and enjoyed an impossible burden to bear. It’s no wonder our mental and emotional health as creatives ends up in such dire straits.
As a creative, I’ve come to appreciate that my art is not for everyone. Not everyone will understand it. Not everyone will enjoy it. Not everyone will be willing to pay for it. They’re not supposed to. There are those I am called to. The message God has placed in my heart and is expressed through my art is for specific people. It is for them that I create.
I have a long-standing agreement with God that I will always serve the one. If one person can be encouraged and have their life transformed, then it’s worth doing. My art is not more valuable for being known by the masses. It is precious because it carries the greatest message to ever exist – the Gospel of Jesus.
When my art puts a big, goofy smile on my face long before it ever sees the light of day, I’m drawn to the moment when God looked at all He had made and called it good.
My art is good. I am good. Because my worth as a creative comes from the One who created me. My art finds its value in revealing the One who made me. These are the tried and tested roots of truth that ground me a creative.
I am a creative. It’s what I do. With joy. With passion. With discipline. But it’s not who I am. Because who I am is so much more. Thank God.