I’ve never been the rebellious type. Ever.
When I was a kid, I was as straight as an arrow. At sleep-overs, when my friends were sneaking out of the house to do who-knows-what, I’d stay put, alone in the house not wanting to break the rules. It wasn’t that I was afraid of the dark or the outside adventures in the middle of the night, I just didn’t want to do the wrong thing.
Or, on Halloween nights when the others were smashing pumpkins and throwing eggs, I would keep walking with my bag of candy, wishing I were home. I’ve never liked rocking the boat. I listened to authority and obeyed the rules. I still do. (well, most of the time!)
No, I’ve never been accused of being rebellious.
I’ve also been one of those people who have said, “I’m not creative.”
I wasn’t that great at art as a kid, and so as an adult, I thought this meant I didn’t have the right to try. Sure, I played the piano, and tried my hand at a pottery class once, but the older I got, the more I thought my greatest contribution to the world would be to embrace my more apparent abilities - administrator, organizer, leader. When surrounded by a team of qualified creatives, I’d take on the role of “project manager”.
I felt my ideas must be inferior to the pros in the room, so any creative impulse I had was shamed back into it’s cave - by me. I’d let others do the heavy lifting when it came to coming up with new ideas, or expressing myself creatively, even though I knew I had some good stuff in me. I’d feel afraid to create anything that was outside my natural skill-set--outside of what other's expected of me. I was more content to stay comfortable with my lists.
That was until a few years ago; until I knew something had to change.
I was in my mid 30’s and was miserable. I had an inkling it was because something important in me had atrophied and shrivelled up. I realized the slippery voice I had been listening to for most of my adult life needed to be quieted. I started to excavate what was more true, more right, more me--I started to dig deep, to find my voice, and to get more comfortable in my own skin.
To my surprise, when I uncovered my core, I uncovered my creativity.
A rebel is a person who rises in opposition against an establishment.
Some of the most famous rebellions of history have dramatically changed the landscape of the future. MLK's rebellion for equality and civil rights; Ghandi’s rebellion for justice; and Mandella’s rebellion for freedom from Apartheid. While all of these rebellions were made peacefully they were made forcefully, with power and vigor. They were rebelling FOR something and they tapped into the belief that we are most free when we are able to be wholly ourselves. Each leader created something instead of sitting back. And they were relentlessly courageous.
In my case, the establishment I needed to rebel against was the long-held personal belief that I didn’t have the creative gene. I turned into a rebel because I decided to rise in opposition against a lie that held my creativity hostage. It’s not leading to a national revolution, but I've got my own mini-battle going on over here.
It's a fight for freedom in my own heart; a fight for the truth that I have something worthwhile to share.
Here’s what I’ve been learning over these past few years.
1. The most rebellious thing I can do is be completely and wholly me.
People need me to do what gives me life. Because what gives me life is where love will flow from me. And I don’t need to wait for permission…it’s already mine (and yours!). You and I have already been given the free pass to be exactly who God created us to be. We don't need to compare or compete with others. We just need to keep exploring the depths of who we are and how God made us.
2. I’m the best version of myself when I create.
I’m rebelling against simply being a consumer. When I catch myself saying, ”no, I’m not that creative”, I try to stop myself because it's just not true. Just the other day my mom asked me if I thought I was creative. Honestly, when the words, “yes, I am” rolled off of my tongue, they felt foreign…but they felt true. I'm meant to participate and not sit back. The world needs us all to apply ourselves and make something. I think we are all the best versions of ourselves when we create because that is how we are all made - as creators. I certainly am not the most "artistic" one in the bunch, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't create something.
Elizabeth Gilbert had done some mean study on the subject of creativity - this is what she says,
3. To create means to be courageous.
It means releasing my ideas to the world even if they rock a boat or two; cause a stir, or make heads turn. And for the record, this makes me want to puke. I like to stay small and play it safe. And quite frankly, I have no intention to rock any boats, but sometimes rebellions make waves.
To create, means to be a pioneer. To step into a new frontier and put a stake in the ground. Pioneers, like creators, can't always play it safe or be “normal” - they know they need to be courageous if they want to follow their calling.
I've been writing a book for almost 3 years and I'm a few months away from sharing it with the world. Yes, this is scary. AND it's also fun. These past few years have been about uncovering what has lied dormant and I've never felt more alive. Writing has tapped into that artistic, imaginative and innovative energy I didn't think I had. It's as if my choice to participate and get some skin in the game actually awakened sleeper cells of creativity that are bursting with life.
I see this alive-ness in my friends who are exploring their creativity too. Creativity looks different for everyone but the results always seem to be the same - more life, new life!
Here's what it's looked like for them:
- signing up for a class to learn something new in order to push the mundane away
- hiring a babysitter for two hours a week so she can have some quiet to listen to her heart
- going after dreams that at one time seemed crazy, and now their dreams are their reality
- starting a small business to fuel his artistic and entrepreneurial spirit.
If I could do it all over again, would I sneak out with my friends and smash a pumpkin or two? No, that’s not the type of rebellion I needed. But, would I try to silence the lie that told me I wasn’t creative? Yes. Would I try harder to muster the courage to rock the boat for all the right reasons? You betcha. Would I be willing to create and fail, rather than staying put and staying safe? I sure hope so.
There’s a rebellion going on over here and it’s called creativity.
Let’s be a rebellion. Let’s be creative.