Seek Beauty in Everything

 

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.

2 Replies to “Seek Beauty in Everything”

  1. Linda — I love seeing this website and reading the beginning of this blog. I so deeply resonate with the search for beauty in the everyday and the struggle of competition with creativity and others. Thank you for sharing your story and your experiences. Being in grad school, I wanted to recommend a couple of books that this post reminded me of (because everything gets filtered through book lists when you’re in grad school!):

    First, there’s an awesome creative guru named Austin Kleon, who writes and makes things in Austin, TX. His website is a gold mine of creative tips (http://austinkleon.com), but he also has a couple of books. One that your post reminded me of is his book “Show Your Work.” In it, he encourages artists to share and show their creative process rather than hiding it and keeping it to themselves. He’s got a lot of good stuff.

    Second, and more importantly, is a book by Kathleen Norris (who you should read everything by!) called “The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and ‘Women’s Work'”. It’s a short little book, but challenging and reflective. She reflects on her experience with the daily work of life around the house… the tedious and repetitive work of every day life. Here’s a little taste:

    “It is a quotidian mystery that dailiness can lead to such despair and yet also be at the core of our salvation… The Bible is full of evidence that God’s attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a Great Cosmic Cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us — loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life… all the cooking and cleaning of a people’s domestic life might be revisioned as the very love of God. A God who cares so much as to desire to be present to us in everything we do.”

    I look forward to seeing where your writing goes! Blessings, friend!

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts, friend! I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and insight. I’m definitely going to check out those books! I’ve been looking for good resources on creativity.

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