About a week ago, my wife and I saw the new movie “The Greatest Showman.” In the days that followed, I found myself listening to the soundtrack all day, every day. When a chance for a babysitter came up a few days later, we went to see it again.
Something about that movie really captured me. There’s something uniquely powerful about the combination of a compelling story, stunning visuals, talented actors and beautiful harmonies meeting at just the right moment. You feel like you’re a part of it somehow. You see how the story wraps into your life. It makes you feel something and may even make you emotional. Of course I didn’t cry, because I’m a manly man who would never shed a tear over a song about trapeze artists … it was a really close call, though.
This movie resonated with me for several reasons, but I think I connected so deeply because it was so creative. Most new movies coming out these days are either sequels, remakes or film adaptations of comic books. For the creators of “The Greatest Showman,” it took some real guts to film an original musical about a circus ringleader — and the director had never made a movie before. (But it worked!)
I don’t know about you, but when I witness something great and creative like that, it makes me want to stretch my creativity. It wakes up my dreams and makes me want to create something great. It’s almost equally inspiring and frustrating.
Most of us rarely get a standing ovation or get interviewed by the sideline reporters after a successful day at the office, so when we witness these great, creative, brilliant moments, it’s easy to look back at our ordinary lives with our seemingly mundane skills and find ourselves lacking. I quickly realize my shortcomings and lust after the talents of others.
Maybe you have a job or are studying a subject in school where you don’t feel very creative. Maybe you spend your days balancing spreadsheets or memorizing math equations or cleaning windows or changing diapers. Or maybe, like me, you work in or study “the arts” but feel the same way I often do: You just don’t have the magic spark that seems to come so naturally to others in your field.
If you’ve felt that before, I have two words of encouragement for you.
1. You are creative.
To be “creative,” you don’t have to be a dazzling watercolor artist who can turn mistakes into happy trees. You don’t have to wear black turtlenecks and reinvent the cell phone. You don’t even have to drink LaCroix and listen to Bon Iver.
We often talk about creativity as if it’s binary: Either you have it, or you don’t. However, whatever field or life stage you find yourself in, I believe you are creative and have the capacity to grow if you want to. Creativity is simply finding new ways to solve problems, and I believe we all can do that — more often than we realize.
I believe we are made in God’s image, and there’s not a being in the universe more creative than our God. The same Creator who spoke the narwhal and red-lipped batfish into existence also created you. He made magicians and bank tellers and gymnasts and spreadsheet-wizards and construction workers with equal love and care.
We have different skill sets and various capacities, but however you spend your days, you have to solve problems and overcome difficulties. That’s part of being alive. If you’re finding new ways to excel at your job and successfully navigating the challenges of life, that requires creative thought. Whether you label yourself as creative or not, we all have skills and minds that crank out some pretty amazing results.
I also believe we have the ability to expand our creativity. Some people may have more of a natural knack than others, but creativity is also a choice. If you’re stuck in a rut in your job or want to really stretch your creative muscles, do something about it. Switch up your routine. Listen to different music. Take a minute to draw something. Try a different formula. Take a different route to work, or take your lunch at a different time. Think about things with a new perspective, and — from my experience — you can find renewed creativity.
2. Be you.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s so easy for me (and you, right?) to compare our gifts to those of our friends, families and professional rock stars. We often romanticize creativity and make it seem like everyone should take ridiculous risks, quit their day jobs and make a musical about the circus.
Maybe that worked for one person, but that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal pursuit for everyone.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is 1 Corinthians 12. As Paul was discussing spiritual gifts, he used the human body as an analogy. Just like we have many different parts to our bodies that each perform a specific function, we are each designed with unique strengths and weaknesses.
Paul was actually quite humorous in this passage, especially if you throw in a little imagination. Paul said it would be ridiculous for a human eye to say to a hand, “I don’t need you!” Or for an eye to think less of itself because it didn’t have the same function as an ear. (Can you imagine those conversations going on between your eye, ear, hand and foot — none of which even have a mouth? Come on, that’s funny!)
Just like it’s silly for our individual body parts to be jealous of one another, it’s equally silly for us to lust after the gifts and talents of others. As Paul wrote in verse 18, “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”
For Christians, we’re all a part of the same body. Though we each have unique gifts and talents and callings, we also have similar missions. God designed us with unique strengths and talents so we could work together to further His kingdom. If the world was full of only painters or only accountants with only eyes or only ears, we would have a very silly and not very productive society. God made you — just as you are — just as He wanted you to be. I know it’s cliché and Christian-poster-y, but that doesn’t make it less true.
I think it’s good for all of us to look for ways to grow and stretch ourselves, but it’s also good for us to also learn to be content with our DNA. Keep growing and learning and trying new things, but also embrace the person God created you to be. You have a role to play in the body of Christ, and we need you to be you.
And it’s OK if that’s not a singing and dancing circus promoter.