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A Creative Look at Creativity

When I think of creativity, I think of a time when I was three years old and I was ushered into a room where there was a long table covered with a white cloth. On the table was a treasure trove of crayons, paints, papers, scissors, glue, sequins, and stickers in every color of the rainbow. I was told that I could play with them to my heart’s content. I was ecstatic!

Most people tend to associate creativity with something of that sort, perhaps on a more adult level involving art, or literature, or poetry, or music, or dance, or theatre, or crafts; and of course, all those things are creative. The world—at least sometimes—rewards these kinds of creativity with fame and even money. We therefore tend to think that creativity means an unusual or special form of genius that most of us lack. The dictionary defines creator as "one that creates usually by bringing something new or original into being." The doctrine of creationism holds that God created the world ex nihilo: out of nothing. All too often, we think of the blank canvas, the empty stage or page, and we are overwhelmed by all that nothing. We develop blank canvas syndrome as we find ourselves stuck, unable to create. Then we compound our difficulty with a bunch of negative self-talk about our lack of ability to create: "I just can’t think of a thing." "I’m not very creative." "I’m no good at this." "I’ll never be able to do this." "I’m so untalented."

But that’s a pretty limited—and limiting—view of creativity. To broaden our view, we need to become more creative in our thinking. For one thing, the ex nihilo theory is strongly questioned in some quarters. And for another thing, something new or original can result from the simple combination of two or more already existing things, if nobody ever combined them before. We do this all the time, so much so that we fail to recognize this sort of activity as creative. The first person to combine green beans with mushroom soup was being creative, even though he or she may have had far too many imitators since. We may have a flair for combinations that the world does not notice or recognize as creative, but they are creative nonetheless.

You are being creative if you combine two thoughts or ideas for the first time, which is how a lot of things get invented. It doesn’t matter what your motive is; maybe you had a problem to solve and were desperate. The spectacular glass elevators that go up the outsides of buildings were invented when an exasperated janitor, overworked from trying to clean up during the construction of an addition to a large hotel, remarked in disgust that he wished they could just build the new elevator outside. One of the project’s architects happened to overhear him, and the rest is history. All of us possess this ability to combine two existing things or ideas, and therefore, we tend to think of it as ordinary rather than as creative genius. But the truth about all of us is that we are all creative geniuses. We simply limit or embalm or creative powers by discounting them.

As my friend Jane Elizabeth Allen reminds me, "Your brain hears what your mouth says." What if we told ourselves on a regular basis that we were creative geniuses and that we could hardly wait to see what we were going to come up with next? Wouldn’t that be a lot more inspirational than going around saying, "I’m not very creative"?

But important as it is psychologically to encourage ourselves with positive self-talk, there is an even more important dimension to creativity, for creativity involves our relationship with God. It is literally true that all creation is co-creation between us and God. Moment by moment, day in and day out, world without end, we as dominant minds and all the mini-minds that make up our bodies along with the rest of the world accept some portion of the perfect new possibilities that God is offering to each of us in each moment. Without those new possibilities that God constantly offers, there could be no novelty, no newness in the world. God is the source of all our bright ideas, but God never forces them on us; we choose to say yes to God. People that we think of as creative are often highly intuitive, which means that they have developed their ability to look and listen for God’s leading, to be effective in their teamwork with God, the Senior Partner, Friend, or perhaps Parent. Two boards put together are stronger than just the strength of each one combined; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, for it includes the relationship between them. We say, "Two heads are better than one," meaning that the mingling of two minds provides two sources of ideas synergized by the relationship between the two. This is even more true of us in partnership with God, for without God, we can do nothing.

God’s will for us is the highest and greatest amount of good possible, and God stands ready and eager to give us as much of that good as we are able and willing to receive. We must turn to God, tune in to God, open a channel for God to give through. As H. Emilie Cady once wrote, "Desire in the heart is always God tapping at the door of your consciousness with his infinite supply—a supply that is forever useless unless there be demand for it." For the amazing truth is that God can do nothing without us; we have something to give to God by teaming up with God in co-creation. Every one of us is essential to God’s plan for the universe; every one of us is a creative genius in God as God is in us. You in partnership with God are wonderfully creative, so get busy and create a wonderful life and a wonderful world!