As a former art teacher I saw a lot of people with very little belief in themselves and their imagination. I often assigned very open-ended projects just to force kids to use their imaginations – melt down doesn’t even begin to describe the atmosphere in my room for those couple weeks. “MS.T – JUST TELL ME WHAT TO DO AND I’LL DO IT. How can I get an A? Just tell me exactly what to make.” I saw a lot of people who had been torn down through childhood and told that they aren’t meant for creativity – that they’re not good at imagination. You would be shocked at how many students entered my class and before even introducing themselves would blurt out “don’t expect much from me, I’m absolutely awful at art, and there’s no way I’m going to do well in here.”
I myself have a few memories that involved teachers absolutely cutting me to shreds during my childhood. I was convinced I was a terrible artist, that I should never use my imagination to take a risk again when my fourth grade art teacher lost her crap when I decided to add pink rain to a picture of my house…needless to say I was fearful of the art room until high school, and still to this day struggle to take a risk with my art. I was convinced I was a terrible writer (still battle these insecurities), when a high school creative writing teacher told me, “I was trying too hard to be creative,” and that “I don’t really have interesting enough experiences to write about my own life.”
This death of imagination and creativity is so detrimental. For everyone. I don’t care if you’re reading this and you’re like “No, but Meghan…you haven’t seen ME draw. Can’t draw a straight line to save my life.” That’s not what I’m talking about here…I’m talking about our use of imagination, our creative spirit. I believe for a lot of people, it’s been crushed a long time ago. I believe it’s being used in a way that God never intended.
I believe our imaginations have been hijacked by what ifs, and remember whens, and howevers – crippling anxiety. Our creative spirit now works against us when our worries spiral out of control, when we jump to conclusions, when fear festers and grows. We’ve been told to not put a lot of stock into creativity and imagination – that’s for children…time to grow up. I believe this to be a pervasive lie from the devil.
Ultimately I believe this is an area of intense spiritual warfare. I believe this is a place the devil wants to control. I believe he wants dreams to die there. I believe he wants all your decisions to be made out of fear. I believe he wants you to question every good thing. He wants to convince you that that awesome idea you have is no good, that your boyfriend is cheating on you, that your friends don’t really like you all that much, that you can’t do this, that you shouldn’t do that, that you won’t make it, so on and so forth. I believe our imagination and creativity – when controlled by the devil – can singlehandedly take us away from the life that God has for us. You guys, the devil was never meant to camp out there, he was never meant to build a tent. But for so many of us, we let him live there rent free. Heck – we’ve let him build a house.
I’m here to tell you that God has big plans for our minds, our imaginations, for our creativity, for our dreams. The Bible talks about childlike faith, and I’m a firm believer in the correlation between childlike faith and childlike imagination. I’m a firm believer that our childlike imagination doesn’t have to die with our childhood. That just like most things in our life, the Lord wants to resurrect that in us.
The Lord has really been speaking “creator” over me lately. Have I done anything about that yet? No. But, I’m writing a blog post about it…so it’s a start. But I hope this will be an encouragement for everyone to create. Not just those who are good at drawing or painting or writing…or whatever, but everyone. I hope this is an encouragement for everyone to dream a little bigger, shoot a little higher, and allow God to take back your imagination. Because you were made for more than a life of what-ifs. You were made for more than worry. You were made to make decisions from the place of authority and power, not from anxiousness and fear. You were made to create! Whatever that means for you, and regardless of any finished product.
When Jesus died on the cross and ascended into Heaven He gave us access to His characteristics, He gave us access to His heart. The very first characteristic of God that we are introduced to in the Bible is “God the Creator”. So would that not be foundational to who we are as His children? Would we not also be prompted to use our imaginations to create as well? Would He not want to meet us there? It’s no wonder that our minds and imaginations would be the first place of attack from the devil. It’s no wonder we would be convinced that creativity isn’t all that important. As the Lord wants to renew our minds daily, the devil wants to destroy it.
Now, I can’t leave you on that note. Because we all know who wins here, we all know that we’re not just simply doomed to a life of anxiety and lackluster creativity. But the question is – how do we take it all back? How do we regain that childlike imagination? That excitement about creation? How do we stop fear from controlling us? How do we let love win?
It begins with a willingness to give your mind over to Christ. A willingness to take risks creatively – just start where you are, don’t go into it with final product expectations. Just start. I believe with every small step of creativity you will be met by Jesus (maybe some frustration too). With every decision made out of love and not fear – the devil’s grip loosens. The recognition that you may be letting fear drive you, and the stand against that is a great start to an imagination run by God. Whatever it is, however it starts, the time for creative imagination is right now. God has called you creator – it’s time to walk in that name.