Creating For The Father
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
Sometimes, creating is hard. And sometimes it feels like it used to be easy, back when I could let loose the twisted underbelly of my brain with a mechanical pencil and skull-and-crossbones notebook. I could weave pain and conflict, monsters and demons. I could sling appalling insults and kill everyone. Then I became a Christian. And I still wanted to create, but now there were rules…
Everything had to be edifying. No bad words. All kissing has to be kept PG. Everything had to point to redemption or be an allegory. I tried reading the Christian fiction that fell into these categories and was sorely disappointed and uninspired by the result. I had lived too long as a cynical agnostic to take any of these “sinful” characters seriously. I knew too many hypocritical and nauseating church-goers to believe these protagonists held all the answers.
I stopped writing fiction for a good long while, feeling all my inspiration had run dry and maybe I was made for non-fiction after all. All my other creative efforts, drawings, painting, poetry seemed necessary to conceal.
I’m mostly convinced that the return of my inspiration couldn’t have happened had I not suffered a crisis of faith while pregnant with my second son. The story I came up with is dark, but not so dark as my teenage self would have thought. Still, finishing that one and getting a publishing contract gave me the courage to try again. This time, I gave my imagination a little more free reign, still always aware that it has to have a MESSAGE or it’s just not CHRISTIAN enough. (The struggle is real. It’s been a year and I’m only half way though the first draft.)
Then, recently, my son started writing books. “The Adventures of Super Kitty.” “The Mysteries of Choo Choo.” “The Dragon and the Princess Have a Wedding.” I realized that, as his mother, my desire was in no way to tell him what to write or to write through him. It hit me that perhaps God isn’t some stage-mom trying to live vicariously though us. He can handle his own messages. He gives us a chance to have and use talents and gifts. And if we know him, the truth of his love and chances for redemption just might come through without us even trying.
Suddenly, there were new possibilities. Twisted might be okay, might even be means toward redemption. As far as bad words and fornication, characters who may like to light stuff on fire, how does it help anyone for us to shy away from reality? Our mission is not to justify harmful behavior, but how can a real world relate to our fiction if our fiction is a foreign, religious utopia?
You may sometimes go to your parents or a friend and say, “What do you want me to paint?” “What story needs to be told?” “Where should I go?” But those people also understand your creativity and want to know, “What have you come up with?” “Let me see what you’ve done?” “What’s inspiring you?” And, like a good father, or a good friend, they will want to see you shine through your work.
It’s easy to mistake Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” to see ourselves as empty vessels void of use or talent in ourselves. It is true we were dead in our transgressions and can do no lasting good without the hand of God in our lives, but he created us with our talents and ideas. We died to our old selves and to the sin that separated us from our creator—not to the things he created us to do and to be.
When we are trying too hard to be led by God, we tent to lose sight of what he gave us. It gives him no pleasure to push around a bunch of mindless drones. He made creatives to create! Even in Eden, would we not have had stories in our hearts to share with the other naked creatures of perfection?
We will flourish when we think of God as the best critique partner ever. “I have this idea, what do you think?” “Come look what I made/did?” Understanding that he is proud and excited to see what we have done, but may also have suggestions. And just like in James 1:5, he gives us that wisdom without reproach, without finding fault. While it may be difficult to let people see our work for fear of their response, we never have to fear God’s.
Set free your gifts.
And go joyfully to your father to show what you have done.