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Showing Up for Creativity

I was walking through the factory the other day thinking that my creativity feels a bit low this week, and wouldn’t it be nice if inspiration would keep up with my schedule.

As I walked through the audibly chaotic environment, the Bible in my lower cargo pants pocket was thumping against my leg with every step…. a solid, heavy companion thump, thump, thumping away, forcibly, rhythmically reminding me of something I’ve been known to say… “Bibles aren’t for thumpin’, they’re for readin’.” And the Bible… more specifically, God… is the source of our inapiration, is He not?

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her impressively articulate TED talk on the subject of creativity, recalls a conversation she once had with her undefined, disembodied, external source of inspiration:

“Listen you,” she said to an empty corner of the room, “you and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this. I don’t have any more than this. So if you want it to be better, then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal. O.K. But if you don’t do that, you know what? The hell with it. I’m going to keep writing anyway because that’s my job. And I would like the record to please reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job.”

It’s a charming moment in a brilliant talk on how emotionally and intellectually destructive internalizing full responsibility for the creative process can be. She is absolutely right that the creative process can feel “downright paranormal”, and that assuming ourselves to be “the font and the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, eternal mystery is just a smidge too much responsibility to put on one fragile, human psyche.”

We are fortunate, then in faith. We know better than to succumb to the hubris of assuming ourselves to be “the source”…. but, like Gilbert, we are still required to “show up” for our part. Let’s stop being satisfied with the rhythm of unopened Bibles… that day to day “passing by” or the assumption that it’s “good enough” be in close proximity with His writings.

Sit and spend some time with Him before you complain that He didn’t show up… because the chances are He’s been waiting on you for a while. Take the time to wait on Him… he’s The Creator, after all.

Yes, the creative process is a beguiling, intangible, unpredictable thing, so aren’t we blessed to be able to name the source of our inspiration?

How has God reminded you lately to slow down and listen?

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