Just a few months before the pandemic hit, I was walking through one of my favorite consignment shops and saw a pair of polymer clay earrings. For whatever reason, the thought crossed my mind: “I could make that. I could do that.” I bought a bunch of cheap clay from Michael’s and spent the day after Thanksgiving making earrings that I am so embarrassed to look at now, but back then was beaming about. And thus began my creative side hustle, Baewolf Earrings. I had no idea what a Godsend and healing thing it would end up being.
I’ve made probably a thousand earrings since then, worked at my tiny desk for a thousand hours, and taken thousands and thousands of creative product photos and model shoots with my friends. I’m not even close to being sick of it. Every time I sit down at my desk, I feel at home and excited about what I’m about to create. But the best part is how much this creative endeavor has connected me back with God. I see him in and through my work, and I’m convinced that other people see God through my art, too.
Even if it doesn’t become anything more than something you spend Saturday mornings doing, here are three spiritual reasons you should pick up a creative hobby:
1. Being Creative Connects You to God as Creator
One of the very first roles we encounter God in is Divine Creator. In Genesis 1, God creates everything out of nothing; all of the glorious stars and planets, flowers and animals, particles and elements, all from thin air.
So, when we task ourselves with creating something, whether that be a painting, drawing the blueprint for a house or concocting the perfect smoothie, we are participating in this essential part of his character. We are made in his image, so being creative in beautiful and useful ways is honoring to him and the way he made us.
To me, it feels like “bring your daughter to work day” every time I get to sit and create something beautiful. I know that it will never be as beautiful as a waterfall or a sunset or anything else that came from God’s hands, but I try. And I feel God being so proud of me. We’re working together, side by side, and I am getting to know him deeper through what my own hands create.
Plus, being creative helps us to slow down and pay attention. It takes us out of survival mode and helps us focus back on the hearts-y, feelings-y, lovey things that make life worthwhile, that God can fill our lives with.
What better way to get to know somebody than to do something they love with them?
2. Being Creative Helps Us See Ourselves as Good
Whether or not you have experienced spiritual abuse, you probably have some measure of the idea that you’re not good enough. That there’s something irrevocably flawed about you, or you’ll never be enough. But by being creative, our hearts get to be told another story.
I have written about spiritual abuse pretty extensively, so I won’t go too much into it now. But I will say that I allowed the spiritual abuse I went through to convince me that I was no good. Because my heart was “deceitful about all else, and desperately wicked,” I couldn’t trust my heart or anything it produced or wanted.
It took many months, maybe even a year, but eventually, I made the connection that there must be something good about me if I was able to create such beautiful things.
I am so proud of my work and get endless compliments for it. And these earrings were coming out of my hands! My heart! My own brain came up with these ideas! So, was it really true that I was no good? Was it really true that nothing about me could be trusted?
I don’t know when this breakthrough happened because I think it happened slowly over time. Our hearts are told a certain story throughout our lives but being creative gives us a chance to change it.
I’m not saying that learning how to knit will solve all of your self-esteem problems. But it does help. Creativity connects us to our true selves and shows us that it’s beautiful.
3. Being Creative Connects Us to What We Love, and Therefore to God
We are made in God’s image. So when we are our true selves, we are representing him the most accurately and colorfully that we can. Doing what we love helps get us in touch with our true selves in a beautiful way!
In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, the author has an entire chapter called “Know Yourself That You May Know God.” He makes the observation that the more authentic we are with ourselves, the deeper God’s truth can reach us, and the more integrity we have to what we really believe.
Getting in touch with our true selves, through what we enjoy, love, and feel passionate about, is all part of the process of becoming the most grounded disciples we can be. God is so gracious to allow this process to be fun and not just hard or scary!
Creativity itself also has a fantastic ability to help us know ourselves better. Poetry helps some people to see the full spectrum of their emotions, in all of its different colors and textures. Painting helps some people recreate precious places or memories that would otherwise be lost.
Even something as simple as knitting a pair of mittens can be part of someone getting to know themselves better. The colors or textures they are drawn to will be completely individualized to them and what makes their soul happy.
I went through a period where I intentionally followed any sort of profound artistic impulse. If there was an aesthetic movie that I liked watching, I’d let myself watch it over and over. If there was a listing of pretty vintage postcards that I kept thinking about, I would buy them for myself, just because. I knew that my artistic impulses were my own heart speaking to me, and I wanted to become a student of it. I found out so much about my style and what I loved during that time – and further that I God himself shares the same excitement over these things that I found so breathtakingly beautiful.
God wants our lives to be full of so much joy. Picking up a creative hobby isn’t going to replace your time at church or your time reading the Bible, of course. But it is a way to communicate to your heart that God is good, that you are good, and that you’re capable of creating more good in this broken world.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines. Used with permission.
Photo courtesy: Jonathan Borba/Unsplash
Kelly-Jayne McGlynn is a former editor at Crosswalk.com. She sees the act of expression, whether through writing or art, as a way to co-create with God and experience him deeper. Check out her handmade earrings on Instagram and her website for more of her thoughts on connecting with God through creative endeavors.