Binding the Vanity of Creativity

July 22, 2009

Guest Blogger: Callie Mitchell

Callie is a good friend of mine from college.  As students, we lived in a cute-but-oh-so-sketchy little house in Greensboro, NC.  We were designers, writers, painters, and photographers…but most of all we were friends.

Callie now lives in Israel with her husband, Devin, and is an extremely gifted communicator and architect and designer.  She’s also the daughter of MLB’s Jerry Narron, who is, in my opinion, the nicest guy in baseball.  

She wrote the following the other day, and I asked her if I could share it with you.  I’ve written before about my struggles with jealousy made worse by facebook and other social media sites, and I thought this piece was timely and relevant to that. 

For the many wonderful things facebook is good for, sometimes I find myself snooping around other peoples lives and becoming discontent.  I know I’m not alone because my friend, Faith, blogged about it several months ago:

Confession time: sometimes lurking on facebook serves to make me jealous of the people I stalk. I tell myself I’m just keeping up with friends, but in truth, I’m coveting…

And if I was to be honest, I’d have to say the same thing.  Last night I found myself confronting this issue in the Lord after seeing a few friends new and creative lives on my computer screen, but really this issue goes beyond facebook. Its a struggle of everyday life.  

My university experience at UNC-Greensboro was a wonderful time of learning about the Creativity of God.  He blessed me with the most unique group of friends in the entire world.  All artists of one sort or another, we were set on being creative in all areas of life, including our expression of faith and worship. 

My friends looked like artists, displaying the latest trends in both purchased and homemade clothes, pierced body parts, unique hair styles, tattoos, and accessories.  My friends acted like artists, being choosy about selections in film, music, literature, etc.  We even had the most well put together rented houses and apartments you’d ever see, for a group of unemployed college students.  

It was a stretching season of life.  I learned to be thoughtful and intentional about my aesthetic decisions and I learned that I didn’t have to settle for the K-Love status quo.  My faith in Jesus didn’t have to limit my creative expression.  In fact, it really should expand my artistic expression.  It did expand, and it continues to do so.  

Those were some of the best years of my life, but if I was to be truly honest, and I can only speak for myself here, sometimes I also felt the insecure and competitive spirit that lurked amongst our creative crew.  Sometimes I’d wonder, “Do some of my friends have a people preference based on style?”  Then I’d realize the pride and judgment in that thought and turn it back on myself, “Do I have a people preference based on style?” I was disgusted when sometimes the Lord’s answer was “Yes.”  

Of course, its easiest to identify with those who share common interests with you; interests in aesthetic taste included.  Its just a completely different scenario to cause others to feel unloved because they don’t share your specific tastes.  This can20happen through not attributing enough value to someone of a different creative expression, or having a hardness towards another because of jealousy.  Amongst creative types, its also not uncommon to have a wrong self perception because of things or talents you do or do not have.  I have been the perpetrator and the victim of those sorts of mentalities.  

At least in real life, during those amazing days, we were able to walk through struggles with each other.  We prayed for and with one another.  We saw each other at our best and worst.  Facebook hides all the dirty laundry.  Maybe we post our successful art projects but hide the failures;  we delete the ugly photos, but make albums full of Vanity Fair ready shots; we share good memories of escapades overseas, buy conveniently leave out falling down the stairs in Turkey or the swollen shut eye in Mexico because of some freak grain of sand. 

This is not necessarily wrong.  Who doesn’t want to put their “best foot forward.”  Its just good to remember that we all struggle with failure, wanting more than we have, or how we’re perceived by others, on one level or another.  No one’s life is as perfectly crafted as it seems.  Its often the hard places that the Lord uses to refine us most.  That’s where the true and eternal crafting comes in.  

Also, our identity shouldn’t be founded upon how we would categorize ourselves, or how we would be categorized by others.  I was reminded of this while reading a Relevant Magazine interview with Misty Edwards.  

Last year you were featured in “The Blah Blah” blog as a “Girl of Christian Indie.” How did you feel about being tagged in the Christian indie scene?

Honestly, I haven’t thought much about it. I am not sure what it means to be a “Girl of Christian indie,” but it sounds cool. I don’t put a lot of thought into the way I am “tagged” today. I try to stay focused on where I am going. My focus is to go deep in the Word of God; live in the First Commandment, which leads to the Second; stay faithful in the place of prayer; fast more; give more; and live the Sermon-on-the-Mount lifestyle to the highest degree, even in my weakness. I know I am going to die one day, and the only real definition of who I am will come from the lips of Him who searches my heart. So, it’s cool but not relevant to who I really am.

Ultimately, in dealing with my discontent, I have to ask myself a few questions: 
Who am I at the end of the day?  Who does He say that I am?  Or better yet, Who do I say that He is through the way I live my life? And the ever important: How can I know You more, Lord?

Without settling these matters, I’m too grounded in the vanity of this age to act… and create… in love.    

Go here for the full interview with Misty Edwards.

*You can find Callie’s blog here.

2 responses to “Binding the Vanity of Creativity”

  1. Kristel says:

    I can definitely relate to this.
    I, too, have a creative group of friends…and I love it.
    My husband and I moved away to another state, though…and, well, it’s different.
    All our new friends are great, but not too many creative types. I’m learning to relate to this new group. And sometimes I find myself on facebook checking out what my Miami friends are up to and I get a tad bit jealous. I need to repent and focus on my identity in Christ.

  2. Ashley Perry says:

    this is such a great post!

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