Dreams & Visions: What they are and how to get one.
No surprise: I’ve found that to develop creative muscle takes time, and that this process is at the very heart of life for the faith-driven creative. Actively investing in our creativity, produces abundant, meaningful, purpose-driven inspiration. This walk with God, like any cherished relationship, is not a six-step quick-fix. We won’t find any simple bandages here. Change and deep spiritual growth is an on-going process wherein we literally reap what we sow. So, let’s dig in!
Simply put: a dream is: Something you want to have, something you want to do, something you want to become, someplace you want to go. The question is, what is the source of your dreams?
For the faith-driven artist, the source of dreams is God. He’s begun a good work in each of us and will faithfully see it to completion, if we cooperate. Our art is an expression of the deeply personal journey of fulfilling our dreams; our life-walk. It’s our way of sharing who we are, where we’re at, and what’s important to us. Our art is God speaking through us to the world.
Different from a dream, a vision is long-term, big picture stuff. Visions are fulfilled through the completion of many dreams. Dreams are smaller, short-term projects. Visions are long-term, life changing strategies often taking an entire life-time to realize.
A Purpose-Built Relationship
As I wrote in Creative Self-Motivation: Making Art Anyway;
“Without a strong pull at our heart-strings we’re adding nothing to the symphony of humanity and just waiting to expire, and that’s not God’s plan for us at all. Scripture reminds us that God has plans for our lives, not to harm us, but to prosper us. [Jer.29:11]”
Discovering and developing our God-given dream(s) is to find our creative voice. We’re looking for what’s meaningful to us so we have something to say. This quest takes some real soul-searching.
Rick Warren / The Purpose Driven Life
The search begins with knowing who we are and why we’re here. I can’t think of a better tool than Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. This is the only God-driven “self-help” book I’ve ever found. Warren reminds us that we’re here for God’s glory, not ours, and he helps us get this often misunderstood concept into a healthy perspective. Without this God focused, Christocentric perspective, nothing in life (or art) will make any sense.
Get a copy, take notes, highlight it, and do the exercises. A book is a tool, so mark it up and use it. Absorb what’s written. I encourage you to revisit and rewrite the exercises once a year to fine-tune and update where you find God leading your faith-driven creative life.
Dick Staub / Culturally Savvy Christian
If we’re going to be a creative voice making a difference, we also need to know the cultural context in which we live.
Dick Staub is a cultural watch-dog. In his book, Culturally Savvy Christian, he deftly untangles the cultural muddle we currently find ourselves in. Especially meaningful to artists are his themes of our being both image bearers, and culture makers. Staub is so committed to the power of the arts that he focuses an entire chapter on precisely how faith-driven artists can make a positive, powerful, counter-cultural difference.
Madeleine L’Engle / Walking on Water
A huge challenge for most faith-driven artists is how to reconcile their faith and their art: What does that look like, and how does it work?
Madeleine L’Engle was a deeply grounded Christian, with unquenchable interests in art, faith, and science. Encouraged by her friend, poet Luci Shaw, L’Engle articulates what so many artists of faith could not for themselves; that to make art is to worship the Creator. Her book Walking On Water literally saved my life.
If you’re absolutely serious about making meaning-filled, purposeful art of faith, I urge you to read these three books. Tag them, label them, and turn them into life-long reference tools to which you can quickly turn at a moment’s need. They will posture your spirit as a faith-driven artist working for God’s glory.
To nurture and nourish our creativity, we need process. Now that we understand for whom we work, let’s dig into how we can become inspired and stay that way. Read on!
Julia Cameron / The Artist’s Way
Writer, artist, playwright, Julia Cameron has given us tools to prime our creative pumps and keep us constantly inspired. The Artist’s Way was born from Cameron’s own crisis of creative recovery. As a solid, doable method, she offers us a set of fundamental habits to nurture and nourish the gathering process we artists must engage in daily.
Through this book, my journaling (the first of her creative habits) has gone far beyond a mere diary. It has become, literally, conversation with God. I write – in stream of consciousness – about whatever comes to mind and I do so almost every single day. In these personal pages, I grapple with frustration and celebrate joy. I pray. God and I connect, and I intercept His gifts of meaning-filled creativity. You should get a copy. Mark it up. Do the exercises. I think you’ll find your own fount of creativity over-flowing.
Twyla Tharp / The Creative Habit
To understand the need for and develop your own creativity habits, read The Creative Habit: Learn it And Use it For Life by Choreographer Twyla Tharp. Like Cameron, Tharp is a no nonsense writer. Her main theme is about what she calls rituals. We all have rituals; habitual processes we follow everyday without question. Yours differ from mine, but to the health and well-being of our creativity, they’re essential. Tharp will lead you to develop and use your own creativity rituals.
Creative habits are what I find so harmonious about the writings of Cameron and Tharp. And both are speaking from their own hands-on, life affirming experiences. They’re the real deal, which is why I respect them and their advice.
Now you know where faith-driven artists get their dreams and how to nurture and nourish yours. I’m not a PhD in anything. I’m a working artist who, like you, struggles to find meaning and purpose every day. You can probably tell that I read – a lot! I take copious notes. I tag and label books I own. They become tools which I revisit for further growth or as a pick-me-up, reminding me what I’m doing and why. I take what I learn from God, through these authors, and I put it into fruitful action – you can too!
It’s my firm conviction that the more I show God how willing I am live this creative life He has planned for me, the more He will enable me to handle all that He gives me to do. [Matt. 25:14-30]
I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what books you read which inspire your faith-driven creativity. What practices, habits, or rituals do you use to prepare to make art? How do you use what you’ve learned?