Last spring I decided to write a song.
It started with a literature class assignment: read five to six poems on the subject of protest. Like any good college student, I sat down with my poetry book and skimmed the section for the shortest poems I could find. One title caught my eye –“Song of the Freedman.” From the first stanza, I was captivated.
We are marching from the cotton fields,
We are coming from afar;
We have left the plough, the hoe, the axe,
And we are going to war.
The words stirred my imagination, and I envisioned a platoon of Civil War soldiers, both free men and former slaves, marching toward the battlefield and fighting for a chance at freedom. Each stanza added depth to this image, and by the end of the poem, I felt like singing along with the soldiers. I began molding the lines into a rhythmic march, and I played around with a tune in my head. People would love singing this song, I thought. But how could they enjoy singing it? It wasn’t a song at all, just snippets of music in my head. Then, a fearsome thought struck me. Why don’t you write a song?
At first, the idea terrified me. Write a song? Me? No way! I was content to enjoy the music inside my head without the vulnerability of actually sharing my ideas. But I knew I couldn’t hold those ideas inside my head forever. Before long, my inspiration began to fade as everyday life took over, and I found myself at a crossroad. Was I going to write this song, or was I going to let it slip away?
I decided to put away my fears and write. At the beginning it was easy, but as the verses took shape and new harmonies came together, every note became a grueling decision. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote chords, lyrics, harmonies, and dynamics. I consulted with my composition professor and went back to the drawing board to rewrite yet again. I sat at the piano for hours deciding between one chord and another. I even erased entire pages and started again from scratch. Finally, after months of wrestling with my composition, “Song of the Freedman” was complete.
Why do we desire to create?
As I held the finished product in my hands, I realized that this was more than a song. This was my creation, an outpouring of my soul. I didn’t write the song because a pending due date forced my hand. I wrote the song because I needed to write it, and I wanted to write it. This was the first time in my life that I created something original.
The need to write this song ran deeper than the stirring lyrics or the catchy melody inside my head. I needed to write because I needed to create. And I needed to create because I am made in the image of the Great Creator.
Of all the wonders that God created, He still considers mankind His greatest work of art. In his book A Christmas Candle, Max Lucado says, “You weren’t an accident. You weren’t mass-produced. You aren’t an assembly-line product. You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the earth by the Master Craftsman.”. God fearfully and wonderfully created man in His own image, and as His image-bearer, I have the mind and spirit of a creator.
When I write a song, or make something new, I’m not simply expressing myself; I am glorifying God by demonstrating His image. I am displaying the creativity that He stamped on my identity. My creations are not perfect as His are, but I still have the ability to make things that are good and beautiful.
Take time to create for the sake of creating.
In the hustle and bustle of our world, we often miss the joy of creating something new. We might bring a spark of imagination to the workplace, but what about making something for its own sake? What about art that doesn’t earn money, get good grades, or help us climb the corporate ladder? Is that art worth pursuing?
Absolutely! When we stop racing through life, and we step away from the noise of the world, we begin to connect with the part of our being that longs to make something new. We might find inspiration in a poem, a song, or even another person, and we can mold that inspiration into something beautiful. All the while, we can glorify God by using the creative spirit that He gave us. But first, we must decide to begin. We must set aside the fear of failure and become vulnerable.
You might be thinking, I can’t create because I’m not artsy. Remember that creativity is more than drawing pictures or writing music. In her article “Creativity Isn’t Just for Artists,” Emily Weitz says, “I can’t envision how a decoration should be laid out, I can’t angle a shot perfectly, I can’t draw to save my life, and even crafty things with instructions leave me flustered. But that doesn’t mean I’m not creative.”
God gave you the ability to create, and you can demonstrate that creativity in a way that glorifies Him. You can be creative in the way you organize your closet, or cook your dinner, or love your family. Don’t be afraid to create, because nobody else in this world will do it quite like you.
Sydney Luttrull is a student at Maranatha Baptist University studying English and Piano Pedagogy. When she’s not writing papers or practicing piano, she enjoys practicing yoga, playing basketball, and getting outside. After her graduation in 2018, she plans to attend law school.