It is my favorite topic of conversation–the intersections of creativity and vulnerability and God’s healing. My friend tells me she paints as often as she can. Brushes and paint and canvas–instruments for expressing her heart. Everything is an inspiration for her art. Everything an opportunity to create a representation of what she thinks and feels and sees. A conversation with her mom. A night out with a friend who sees the world a lot like she does. A wall layered with stucco at her work. A brush of her arm against her teenage daughter’s curls. A stack of unwashed dishes in the sink. A hand on her soft stomach as it rises and falls.
Writing poetry is like this too. A simple observation of a piece of notebook paper drifting down the sidewalk can trigger a memory, or an appreciation of the wind, or the contemplation of human nature or relationships or science. Poems can be the processing of an interaction we have with our environment, or a person we adore or a person who has hurt us.
But when it comes to creating art, expressing our heart in a creative, tangible way, there is more to think about too.
While planting flowers in our front yard last night, just as night was falling, I listen to an audiobook about holding our thoughts captive and entrusting them to God. I am engrossed in the message, considering how, according to the author, Jennie Allen, each lie we believe can be categorized as one of the following three: I’m helpless; I’m worthless; I’m unlovable. And one of the best practical ways to go to battle against these lies is something with which I deeply believe: spend time in solitude with God. Engaging with Him, sitting with Him, turning my full attention to Him, recalibrates everything in me that is off-center from what is good.
When I consider my writing–and I’ve been writing, in different capacities for most of my life–one thing is clear: there is writing that is true, energized by solitude with God, and there is writing that is produced by a mind not freed from lies. I can see this clearly now. But in different stages of my life, when I was blind to the lies I was believing, I wrote from a place of hurt and pain and I stayed stuck there. While writing–and perhaps, especially, poetry–can be helpful in processing our thinking (true thinking or false thinking), nothing changes about what we believe, and we will remain stuck–if we either (1) do not write while engaging with God or (2) do not take what we have written to Him.
Writing, in and of itself, or creating any kind of art, for that matter, is not what does the work of healing. God is Healer. Jesus is Savior. Creating art is a tool of opening–allowing our hearts and our minds to be awake. It takes bravery to express ourselves through creating. For in creating–painting, writing, sculpting, music, etc.–we are opening our hearts to pursuing truth. And when we do this, we are opening up places in us that house those lies we believe: these lies that are too emotionally heavy for us to carry on our own.
So what do we do? It is tempting to numb–check out emotionally. But don’t do that. For then the lies we believe–I’m helpless, I’m worthless, I’m unlovable–become even more deeply rooted. After we’ve created, we must, for deep healing to occur, take what we’ve created to God.
So for this week’s Loop Poetry Prompt, consider writing a poem after you have engaged in solitude with God. I encourage you to not listen to music. Get yourself in a place where you can be comfortable. Maybe close your eyes. One friend of mine suggests setting a timer for fifteen minutes, sit with your hands in your lap with your palms facing down, and releasing all of your worries, one by one, to God. Then, turn your palms face up in your lap, and, while breathing deeply and slowly, expectantly listen, with your heart, for what it is God would like you to receive.
After you have written a draft of the poem, read it carefully, with God. What, in these words, does He hear? What, in these images, does He see? Are there any lies you are believing? Do you believe you are helpless? Do you believe you are worthless? Do you believe you are unlovable? Ask Him to come for your heart now–protect you as you bravely give these lies you have been believing to Him. He wants to reveal the lies we are believing because they are keeping us from experiencing deeper relationship with Him. And He has so much love to give us. All of Him. All of Him.
If you’d like to share your poem–or your experience engaging in this exercise with God–that would be so wonderful! But, of course, you don’t have to. No pressure! But let me tell you this: you are not alone here. And together, in community, we can help encourage one another to be brave, continue writing, and taking these beautiful hearts of ours to our loving God.
If you do share, please do so on social media using #looppoetryproject as the hashtag. Or engage with the Loop Poetry Project on Facebook. Join here.
from this one true heart,