Part of living a creative life is seeking to see the beauty in everything.
About a year and half ago, I had left my job as an English teacher, and was at home waiting for our daughter to be born. At the time, I had lots of extra time on my hands, and I was trying to get back into my creative hobbies that I had neglected while working. I was earnestly praying about how I could incorporate creativity into my everyday life.
I knew I wanted some new creative challenge, but I didn’t know where to begin. As I prayed, I heard these words: Seek beauty. I felt like this was direction from the Lord about where to start on my creative journey. I was beginning to understand that part of living a creative life meant seeking to see the beauty in everything.
For me, this reoriented how I saw the creative process. My tendency is to see creativity as a means to win approval from others. I like the way it feels to get complimented for a piece I paint or a poem I write. I also tend to be fearful of others disliking what I create, which causes me to rarely share my work. In other words, my work has usually been about me, not God. But that’s changing.
The command to seek beauty in everything showed me that the source of inspiration has always been Him. He should be the source and the goal of all creativity. The brilliance of His design is all around us, and if we are to live creative lives, we need to open our eyes to beauty He is putting before us daily.
We must take the time to relish the beauty around us.
The old adage comes to mind: Stop and smell the roses. I mean that literally. Our consumerist culture keeps our hearts in a constant place of wanting and striving for more. But the abundance of God’s beauty is all around us. Often, we mentally skip over signs of it in our constant state of distraction. We see that sunrise on our morning commute, but if we take any time to appreciate it at all, it’s only for a second before we lose our train of thought again. There are so many things we see throughout our days that are stunning displays of the glory of God, but to us they’re at most worth the time it takes to Instagram them.
There are so many things we see throughout our days that are stunning displays of the glory of God, but to us they’re at most worth the time it takes to Instagram them.
The next time you see a particularly breath-taking storm, or notice a sprinkling of bluebonnets along a Texas highway, relish it. Let it sit in your thoughts for more than a second. Turn down the radio and just watch. Thank the Lord for it.
And whenever you go on vacation and have the opportunity to see some of life’s most extraordinary beauties—the peaks of the Rockies or the white beaches of the Caribbean—press pause on the touristy stuff for just half an hour just to cherish the beauty that surrounds you. Soak up it up; breathe in the wonder. This is fuel for your creative mind.
We must seek the beauty in the mundane.
It’s natural for me to be thankful for the things that I encounter that are extraordinarily beautiful. I’m a visually-oriented person, so I think that I tend to enjoy visual beauty more than most. But what I am learning on this journey of seeking beauty in all things is that you can find beauty in unlikely places. Things that often seem mundane or unextraordinary are exactly the places where the creative mind needs to seek out beauty.
Begin to appreciate the quiet of a gray January day with its monochromatic skylines. Admire the elegance of old, dusty books sitting on a shelf. See with new eyes the endless farm fields of ochre-colored hay. Look for beauty in the most unlikely places you can imagine, and that’s when you will see your creativity grow.
We must seek to see the beauty in the creativity of others.
As creativity has become less about me, I have begun to appreciate creativity in others more. I hate to admit it, but seeing others share their creative gifts has often been a source of jealousy for me. Instead of admiring others’ work and letting it inspire me, I instead have compared myself to them and in so doing have missed the whole point.
Envy doesn’t breed creativity, it kills it.
I think it can be a tendency of all creatives to want to compare themselves to others, but this hurts us in the end. Envy doesn’t breed creativity, it kills it. By the same token, appreciating others’ creative gifts was meant to inspire us and add fuel to our fire.
Whether it be hand-lettering, painting, photography, writing, or woodworking, it is inspiring to watch another person use their creative gifts. This is why as a creative person it is so important to be a consumer of others’ work. We need to go to craft fairs and galleries. We need to hire our photographer friends and follow fellow artists on Instagram.
Appreciating the beauty in all things, whether in the obviously beautiful, in the mundane, or in the creativity of others, turns our hearts away from creating for our own glory and transforms our creating into worship. This is when we are our most creative—when we lose sight of ourselves in our creating.