ACW

ACW

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Created to create - by Helen Murray

I like to write. I like to start with nothing but an idea – sometimes even a vague one – and try to make something from it. I like to play with words and arrange them on a page, to tell a story, to explore an idea. To share something with other people.

I love the idea that I might create something that changes the world, even if only a little tiny bit. I want to make something that adds beauty, or gives inspiration. I’d like it if people were to read my words and feel a bit happier for having read them, or to change their mind, or to make them nod in recognition and realise that they’re not alone.

Earlier on I was watching my daughters draw and paint and colour. I watched them make wonderful imaginative things out of paper and sticky tape. They snipped and stuck and pretended and built and designed; it comes easily to them. They don't doubt that they can do it. They have confidence that they can put down on paper their ideas and they love making. If we don't have the materials they need they are quick to improvise. They are full of hope and confidence and creativity.

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We are made in the image of God the Creator, and so it follows that we are created to create. We are designed to make things, and it’s an instinct that is expressed in a myriad of ways; some much more subtle than arts and crafts and music and the written word and so on.  I'm sure that every last person who says that they don't have a creative bone in their body just haven't looked in the right place, or else they have forgotten how to find it. Whether it's cake decoration or restoring vintage motor bikes or gardening or flower arranging or dry stone walling. Or singing or dancing or making people laugh. 

Taking nothing, and making it into something. 

Kids find it the most natural thing in the world and they don't doubt that they can do it. They might even be quite sure that they're the best in their class; the most talented artist that ever lived.

And then…

Sometime in the future another child might mock my daughter’s felt-tip T Rex and say that it doesn't look much like a dinosaur, or a scrupulous art teacher might give her a 'D' for the still life fruit bowl because it wasn't obvious that the lemons were actually grapefruit. Next thing, the idea creeps in that perhaps she's not such a good artist as she thought she was. 

A music teacher might not pick her for the Christmas choir and suddenly we no longer hear her singing as she gets ready for school quickly. How come all children can sing and dance without inhibition and present their pictures to us with pride and confidence that we'll know what they are and yet by adulthood so many of us can't sing and can't draw, and most definitely can't dance?

Maybe we can’t remember a specific event where our confidence in our creativity was snatched from us, but so, so often, it has dwindled almost to nothing as we grow up.

Life beats it out of us. Sticking and gluing. Dancing. Imagination. Making up stories. By the time we arrive in adulthood we have hangups and chips on our shoulders and we are so self-conscious that we stop enjoying our creativity at all and we're thrown into a spin when a child comes home with an art project that requires assistance. My friend who writes beautiful, heartfelt poetry finds it hard to let people read it. Another friend shows me a painting and tells me she doesn't think it's any good so she won’t bother putting it in a frame.

I believe that God is like we are with our children. I show Him my latest creation with all its flaws and imperfections and He is delighted. He bends down and takes it from me and He turns it this way and that and He smiles and His eyes are full of pride and pleasure that I brought it for Him. It’s lovely because I made it just for Him.

I love the way that God opens our eyes to see the beauty of His creation, and I am so grateful that He has given me this instinct to make things; I want to make the most of it. When I look around I can see the beauty in other people’s creations – I imagine it’s possible to see the Creator in everyone. To notice and appreciate our God-given yearnings to make and build and add and embellish. It's beautiful.

It's an offering.

As I write this a flower is lolling over the top of the screen of my computer from the vase in front of me. It’s a gerbera; bright, vibrant orange. God’s handiwork - perfect in every way. Crisp and bright and delicate and yet robust enough to sit in a vase and make me smile for a fortnight after it was cut.

Lord God, You are the master Creator. I look at you and this flower and I look at the world around me and I realise my offerings are small and far from perfect, but then I imagine you crouching to receive it with the delight and love of a Father and I am inspired to make you something new.

Because you made me that way.



Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

Having spent time as a Researcher, Pastoral Worker and Hand Therapist, Helen is now a full time mum and writer, currently working on her first novel. 

As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims and collects ceramic penguins.

She has two blogs: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith, and Badger on the Roof where readers are treated to a blow by blow account of her novel-writing progress, or lack thereof. 

You can also find her on:

Pinterest: @HelenMMurray


Twitter: @helenmurray01




17 comments:

  1. I think it's to do with the dreadful self-consciousness that grips us as early teenagers. That's when we suddenly feel inhibited and when self-expression becomes embarrassing. I see the same in teaching - year 7s are generally up for anything that means performing in front of a class or doing something creative and uninhibited. By year 9, only the minority dare put themselves out there, in co-ed schools especially. Single-sex schools make it more possible.

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    1. I'm sure there are a number of reasons, Fran, not least personality. It's just such a shame that the innocent delight in being creative seems to disappear.

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  2. Wow, that made me think Helen. So true. No wonder Jesus said we should become like little children.

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    1. Indeed. I often wish things were as straightforward as they were when I was little, but I suspect they didn't seem straightforward then!

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  3. I'm so grateful that God delights in the things we offer him, even when they are flawed and imperfect - I just wish I didn't keep forgetting it! Lovely post, Helen.

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    1. Thanks, Fiona. I think we all need reminding over and over again. x

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  4. This is so true, Helen. By adulthood (if not before) most of us lose our previous freedom and confidence in creating. I love how you describe the way God views our efforts to be creative:"but then I imagine you crouching to receive it with the delight and love of a Father and I am inspired to make you something new." Yes, He does! And that should be enough to help us begin again because no matter how poor we may feel our contributions are, they are lovingly seen and received by Him. God initiates, inspires and drives that creative spark in each one of us and our task is to allow ourselves to express it as He leads and guides. Lovely post. Thank you! :) x

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    1. Something else has occurred to me - if God has given us a gift, whether it's one talent-worth, or two, or ten - surely it isn't up to us to wave it away saying that it's not good enough? I think perhaps we have a responsibility to use it as well as we can and let Him decide. Hmm. Will ponder that some more!
      Thanks, Joy.x

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  5. How true this is Helen, We have the life and the joy sucked out of us when people say that what we do is imperfect. Yet got had made us perfect and hew loves everything we do. Thank you for the reminder

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    1. Thanks, Wendy. I think we all need reminding on a regular basis. I think if God has given us a gift to use for His glory, then 'the world' will definitely try its best to take it away from us.

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  6. It's school that does it: and you know what? It's not only 'creativity' which is abolished by school: it is actually our spiritual sense. Because when we 'create' that is our spiritual side. (No I am not New Age: this is straight Christian stuff from people who are writing about the importance of children having their spiritual life encouraged - by doing and maintaining creative things. Most children however are crammed into passing tests and exams, being competitive, (even in art & music) and learning the facts in the ways that are necessary for our current society. I'm not against the facts, I love science, but it is the way we are taught, and the givens about how to grow up & earn a living! (Oh and I am not being political either, just talking about creativity being spiritual!)

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    1. I think for some of us school definitely played a part, for others a careless comment by parents or friends, or something else, but it's true that by the time we become adults so many of us are self conscious and embarrassed to show our creative side. Such a shame.

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  7. It's school that does it: and you know what? It's not only 'creativity' which is abolished by school: it is actually our spiritual sense. Because when we 'create' that is our spiritual side. (No I am not New Age: this is straight Christian stuff from people who are writing about the importance of children having their spiritual life encouraged - by doing and maintaining creative things. Most children however are crammed into passing tests and exams, being competitive, (even in art & music) and learning the facts in the ways that are necessary for our current society. I'm not against the facts, I love science, but it is the way we are taught, and the givens about how to grow up & earn a living! (Oh and I am not being political either, just talking about creativity being spiritual!)

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  8. Lovely post, Helen. Fear of failing and fear of ridicule inhibit people's creativity. Even putting on make-up (which I don't bother with any more) is a creative action. Sue

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    1. Thanks, Sue. Yes, you're right - fear of failure and 'what will people think,' can suck the life right out of any creative project. As for make-up - I'd love to be able to do it properly!

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  9. I agree with Mari Howard - I think the school system these days squeezes creativity out of everyone - children and teachers alike. "There is one way to do things and this is the way." I sometimes regret very much being part of a system that has become like this. Great article Helen...

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    1. Thanks, Deborah. I know teachers who have said the same, but I am convinced that you cannot underestimate the difference an enthusiastic and perceptive, encouraging teacher can make in a child's life.

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