“There is no creativity without freedom.”
Really, is that true? I think so. If, as an artist (or anyone else for that matter), we must constantly ask ourselves, “What will people think?” or “Have I taken everything into account?” we will not achieve much, at least in the area of creativity. Why? Simply because we will always be relying on the rules made by others. We will stay within the boundaries other determine for us. And as someone who loves to think and write and paint and draw, this legalism, this staying within other’s predetermined boundaries stifles the creativity that longs to be expressed. Legalism and creativity have never been good roommates.
At the same time, creativity is also not meant to be completely unbounded. Hans Rookmaaker once wrote:
“Christian freedom is not a freedom from something, but to do something. It means openness, freedom of movement, exploration, and mental adventure.”
“Basically,” he goes on to say, “one should be free to do what is right.” As the title of this little thing states, our creativity is meant to exist in love and freedom.
Our freedom never exists apart from love. Our freedom cannot be only an individualistic kind of freedom. We do not live on this earth in merely individualistic ways. There is a deep interconnectedness among all of humanity. We feel it strongly whenever something goes drastically wrong in the world. For instance, we ache with those who loose loved ones in a senseless act of violence. We must allow our freedom to be bounded by love.
Love means that we have responsibility, as servants of the living God, to direct our creativity for the benefit of others. As Jesus so succinctly put it, the purpose of our lives is to love God and to love our neighbor. And our creativity falls within this boundary. Creativity it turns out has a purpose and that purpose is love. And God, in his wisdom, has given us an amazing amount of freedom to express this love. We obviously don’t always get it right, but we have the freedom nonetheless.
So for me, when I want to take aim at getting it right, at expressing the creativity that is constantly bubbling up within in ways that are loving to God and those around me—when I want to get this right I have to be securely connected to my loving heavenly Father.
This freedom is a fruit of my relationship with God. According to Paul, the Spirit I received is not one that makes me a slave, but one that resounds within, crying, “Abba Father” (Romans 8.15). So this freedom is a fruit of the Spirit of God in my life. I am now free before God to call him ‘Father,” to enjoy him and his beautiful and wonderful creation, and to express his creativity in ways that help others. I experience this freedom because of his love towards me and so it is within this context that I give it away to others.
And if my life is rooted in Christ and is free before God, then I am free towards myself. I no longer need to be afraid to be of myself. Christ has accepted me as I am, with my own unique personality. And this helps me to live in freedom towards others. I am now free to work without pressure, without fear, without superiority or inferiority complexes. I am never alone. I now get to work hand-in-hand with the ultimate creator, experiencing and expressing his love and joy and beauty.
Let me bring this down to earth a bit. When I paint I experience a bit of the joy and creativity of God, or at least it feels that way from time to time. There are all sorts of levels of experience and pleasure and thought going on at once. I am talking to him pretty much non-stop about whatever I’m looking at. I’m enjoying the shapes, the slender curve of a face, or the dramatic sweep of a landscape. I’m listening to the sounds, the birds or the breathing. I’m participating in the weather or the emotions of the thing. And I’m just thankful to be a small part of what is going on all around me in that moment. It’s pretty powerful and these words I’m typing do it little, if any justice.
And when I am done painting I step back and see something that expresses just a tiny bit of the love and joy and beauty I’ve experienced. And my prayer is that you get to experience just a bit of it as well.
May you be blessed!