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Is Shame Killing Your Creativity?

“Evil’s intention for shame is not simply to make our interpersonal lives miserable;
It wants to cripple our creativity as artists . . . as much as it wants us to merely feel bad about ourselves.”

– The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson, MD.

Your spiritual and creative lives are interwoven.

The emotions of your heart, and the ideas within your imaginative mind are forever interrelated. The more your heart is distracted by whispers of shame, the less freedom your heart experiences, and the harder it becomes to invest in creativity, and community.

There are plenty of stories of artist trying to drown out their shame, or to move on from their past. It makes complete sense that artists who are fighting to be creative will find mind and shame numbing substances to quiet the voices; from the drinking problems of Jackson Pollock, to the drug abuse struggles of Whitney Houston. Shame from their past and their damaged relationships were never resolved. It is tragic their lives ended early, and tragic we were not able to see how much more developed and fruitful their art might have become.

Shame will stifle creativity as long as it is able to signal its presence in our brain. We can mute the signal for a moment; drowning our shame with distractions, entertainment or substances.
Yet, until we find healing, our creativity will be suppressed.

Your heart cries out to be known.

Each of us longs to have a close friend, a spouse, or a colleague we can confide in. We understand our own story as we share our lives, and we find hope when others help us look at our heart honestly and stop allowing shame to drain our heart and imagination.

It is human nature to cover up our shame and pretend it isn’t really an issue. Just look back at Adam and Eve and consider two words – “fig leaves”. When the freedom and joy of a healthy community is torn, our natural tendency is to run for cover. Who wants to have their mistakes exposed?

If all we do is cover up, we lose the opportunity to regain fellowship, to be known, and to find the peace we so desperately need. The more we cover up, the more our shame hides in the back of our minds. It’s like an annoying app on our cell phone that slows down everything else, because it keeps freezing up the entire operating system.

You know the adage, Time heals all wounds? Well, it doesn’t for shame.

It may seem dormant for a season, but like tension you feel during holiday meals – if you don’t address the real issues you will never get beyond the awkwardness and frustration. We need to address the underlying causes of shame. Time can give us perspective and even a little breathing room, but the only way to resolve the issue is to face it.

True healing from shame requires vulnerability, transparency and the opportunity to be known. When we are finally known deeply and loved by someone who is not repulsed by who we really are, we can find freedom from our shame.

In his book Soul Keeping, pastor John Ortberg describes the day he spent with a friend where he became completely vulnerable about everything in his past. He shared his mistakes, his failures, and things he hadn’t ever shared with anyone else. The power of this transparency was soul transforming.

Your soul longs to be known.

You were made to be known, and your heart will search restlessly for that love, affirmation and community. Until you find it, your mind and heart will never be freed up to blossom in the way it they were meant to.

Your creativity explodes when your heart finds a home. Sure, many artists are creative amidst the struggle, but much of that creativity is a search to define and give meaning to your struggles. Once you find healing you can move beyond this internal struggle and unleash something deeper and more profound. If you want to really develop your creativity, address the anxiety and heart distracting worries of shame.

God’s answer to Shame.

Prayer is a wonderful way to verbalize all of your worries, anxieties, and fears. So take time to pray and be honest with your own heart and God as you stop hiding your fears and tell God everything that causes you to be ashamed or anxious.

Somethings you may need to just share with God in prayer until you find the courage to share with others. If you do this, don’t forget to preach to your heart and remind your soul that God really loves you even though he already knows everything in your heart. Jesus endured the shame of the cross and died to forgive all of those sins. Yes, I mean all.

Once you have prayed, find a trustworthy friend to be open with. I know it isn’t easy, but nothing this important is easy. There is something powerful about deep community where you can be vulnerable and learn to love one another. God gave us one another for reason. It was never good for any man or woman to be alone. We need other imperfect friends to help us uncover our shame, find grace at the cross, and unleash our creativity.

So, if you want your creativity to flourish, don’t focus solely on your craft. We need to also take time to grow spiritually. Run to God, pour out your heart, and receive with joy the grace Christ died to give you. Then, find a mentor of friend to start opening up to . . . and find the joy and freedom of being known. This kind of joy and freedom will lift your heart and renew your soul.

May God enfold you in his love, free you from shame, and fuel your imagination.

Copyright © 2019 Joel & Michelle Pelsue