You Do You – How to Find Your Creative Gifts

Writing and arting are the ways I best express myself, and I use those as outlets for spiritual growth and emotional healing.  (I know “arting” is not a verb, but here’s the post that made it a verb for me: https://wordpress.com/post/mabbat.blog/974 )  I am passionate about encouraging people to find their own creative gifts to grow spiritually and emotionally, so I want to write more about how to do that practically.  Not everyone is made to write or paint, but we are all made to be artists in our own unique ways.

What is your artistic gift?  If you just snorted/laughed/rolled your eyes, I promise you this: you are creative in some way, and that is your art.  As a creation of God, you are called to share your art and use it to reflect God’s creativity and grace.

My husband and I are total opposites in our creative outlets.  He hates writing and generally avoids all things “artsy-fartsy.”  But if you put the man at the controls of a wrecker, he will come alive with a special kind of energy.  I can see his brain working through the wreck scene, calculating angles and weights, and making a plan to clear the road as quickly and safely as is humanly possible.  That is clearly his artistic gift, and his natural leadership abilities are a gift that complement his talent in applied physics.  The intentional practice of our talents is a spiritual discipline in the same way that prayer and Bible reading are.  In my husband’s case, that faithful practice has opened doors to work with incredible people and to share his faith with people who wouldn’t listen to a preacher or set foot in a church.

So, how do you find your artistic gift?  I imagine books could be (indeed, have been…) written on the subject, but I’m only going to offer a measly blog post.  Actually, I’m only going to offer two questions: what are you good at doing, and what do you love doing?

The answer to both may be the same activity, which is probably your answer, but if you struggle to answer either of those questions, let’s dig a little deeper.

What are you good at doing?  If you automatically answer, “nothing,” you need to look more closely.  What do you do that feels as natural and simple as breathing that other people struggle with?  Put another way, what do you do that people often remark that they wish they could do as well as you?  It’s very likely that you don’t see that thing as a talent because it is just so easy for you.

Do you organize people or files or data well?  Do you cook without measuring because you just know how to make food?  What is it that you do that makes you feel like you’re “in the zone” or like your body and brain are totally engaged?  If you’re totally at a loss to answer this question, ask your family and friends what they think you’re good at.  I’ll bet that you’ll be surprised to find that it’s something you’ve never even considered to be remarkable.

What do you love to do (whether you are good at it or not)?  What makes you feel happiest and most alive when you do it?  What makes your brain feel like the most cells are working at top speed?  What makes you feel competent and strong?

This one is not a question anyone else can really help you with, but you know the answer if you think about it honestly.  For example, I do not love to clean.  Anything.  At all.  It is not a natural desire for me, nor is it something that makes me happy to do.  I see it as a necessary evil, actually.  But give me paint and canvas, and I am a happy woman.  It doesn’t matter if I paint a masterpiece because the simple act of putting paint on the brush shuts down all other thought but the color directly in front of me.  It’s meditative.  It’s an act of creation that always fills me with joy.

If you have given our two questions some thought, and you’re still not sure what your gifts are, try out a few things.  Take an art class or a dance class or a cooking class.  Start writing in a journal.  Take note of the skills you use in your job and work to develop those.

The thing about creativity is that it’s not limited to a single outlet.  Our gifts can change over time, too.

I used to dance, and I was pretty good at it.  If I laced up my pointe shoes now, I would surely die, or at least break my body in at least three places.  While I still enjoy dancing, my skillset has changed, and I am not working to develop my dance.  I am working to continue developing my writing skills and my visual art skills.  I’m old enough that those are probably two things I’ll focus on the rest of my life without outgrowing, but I also know that I plan to work on other things that I love to do but may be less talented at naturally.

Our ability to develop gifts into artistic expression will also go through seasons of varying productivity levels.  Don’t panic if you don’t have as much time as someone else to invest.  Maybe daily practice isn’t possible, but another regular interval is.  Do what you can with what you have as often as you can.  Sometimes that will be hours a day; sometimes that will be once a week if you’re lucky.  As the parent of a tiny human who also has a day job, I know that a daily schedule can be daunting.

Don’t be daunted.  Be encouraged by the time that you do have with your art.  You do you.

WIP Wednesday on Friday

Because school started, and I can’t keep my crap together this week…

I am VERY slowly, but surely working my way chapter at a time through the book of Romans in the Bible. With each chapter, I read through, note the verses that stand out to me, and then boil it down to the “bottom line.” I choose the verse that most clearly states the main theme of the chapter and write it down somewhere on my blank page. As I sit with that verse a while, I draw what comes to mind as I meditate, and then I write a poem that reflects that meditation. I also go back to the verses that I marked and write more about them (I use the SOAP method for that, for the very few of you who wondered.) in a journal file on my computer.

It’s an intensive process on a single section of scripture, but I found that I was often reading the Bible every day on autopilot. This process forces me to slow down and digest the words more slowly. Slow is hard for me because I’m not often patient with creative work – once I have an idea, I want it done. I also keep walking away from this work and only coming back to it in spurts because it doesn’t feel as instantly rewarding as a quick sketch or single poem. But God has used this work to show me how to dig deeper into his word and his love, so I’m really silly for putting it off. Turns out I’m a work in progress, too. 🙂

And because the poem is hard to read in the photo, here’s the text:

Oh, how often I’ve failed

Crumbled in the face of temptation

The, oh, how I’ll beg

For mercy

For a fresh start

For life

But I must not believe you

As I try harder, work more, to make you love me

But that isn’t your way

You want truth

You want repentance

You want faith

So watch me open my hands

And let go of my desire to control

To earn your love, to claim myself

So I can believe

So you can make me new

So I can be free

WIP Wednesday 27 June 2018

Continuing the dancer theme, I have been working on some flamenco dancers. The passion and fire in a live performance is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. If you ever get the chance to see flamenco in person, do it. The give and take between the dancers and the musicians is a beautiful act of shared creation. The intensity level is on par with Argentine tango; you’re drawn in, and at the same time you feel like an interloper.

At any rate, here’s a sketchbook rendering.

And here is a canvas sketched and ready for paint. My daughter and niece and I have an art evening planned, so maybe she’ll get some color tonight!

What are you working on? I’d love to see in the comments or in the Mabbat FB group!

WIP Wednesday

It’s still *technically* Wednesday…

In an effort to share my creative journey as promised, I propose Work In Progress Wednesdays, or “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” if you prefer. Some weeks it may be sketches; some weeks may be scribbling in my poetry journal. The point is to be creating on a regular basis. If you want a safer space than online comments to share, please head over to the closed Mabbat FB group, or email me at mabbatblog@gmail.com if you want to share directly.

As a former dancer and forever ballet aficionado, I am fascinated with the lines and movement of ballerinas. Here’s where that’s taken me in my sketchbook lately.

I really love the idea of the shapes in the last one, so maybe that will turn into a painting soon.

What are you working on?