Creativity and Suffering

Let’s talk a little bit about suffering, shall we?

Suffering is real, raw emotion.
Suffering is facing life at it’s absolute breaking point.
Suffering is pain and agony, frustration and despair.
Suffering is all encompassing and overwhelming.

We’ve all suffered in life. We’ve all lived through moments when it seemed as though we were broken down to the littlest of pieces. My book this week was Drops like Stars by Rob Bell.  It focused on creativity and suffering and it made me think.It went interesting places which sparked a great deal of reflection within. I’ve really looked at my own life, my ministry and productivity overall.

I admit I’ve been broken.
I’ve been beaten up and brought to my knees.
Haven’t we all?

Sometimes life is hard. Has it made me more creative? Rob Bell says that “…true life comes when we’re willing to admit that we’ve reached the end of ourselves, we’ve given up, we’ve let go, we’re willing to die to all our desires to figure it out and be in control.  We lose our life, only to find it.”

I think suffering does that for us. It kills any sense of control we might have. It prevents us from believing we have the keys to the universe. It reminds us that we need more than ourselves. It nudges us back into the arms of the one we run from and we like to run, don’t we? We like to think we have it all in hand and run far away from the one who knows us.

It’s interesting to think about running. Children are wise creatures. This weekend in Sunday School we discussed the Prodigal Son. When asked who God liked better, the eldest or the youngest, they talked amongst themselves and came up with a beautiful understanding. They told me that while there were people we liked better than others it didn’t make sense for God to work this way. They felt that God loved us all but liked the choices some of us made better than others.  The younger son chose poorly and suffered as a result but God loved him and welcomed him back. God’s always there when we struggle. We shouldn’t worry about fairness like the elder son did. It’s just right for God to welcome the younger son back.

Often in life we wrestle with the concept of fairness, at least I do. There is this sense that if we do things right, good things should happen. Life doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes bad things happen anyways.  Sometimes thing aren’t fair.

Think about it. We are faced with unfair things far too often.

Heart Disease
Accidental death
Birth Defects
A lay off

These are just a few of the unfair things that happen on a daily basis to people all around the world. Do these experiences promote creativity. Is there a need to really suffer to create?

Most creative people tend to be rather angsty in my experience.  There is a rather dramatic flair that lies within and is perhaps necessary for the creative process. The work. The constant struggle to get things just right. Sometimes creating is suffering. Rob Bell says “We are going to suffer.  And it is going to shape us.  Somehow. We will become bitter or better.”

Suffering will shape us.
Suffering will happen to all of us.
Suffering is part of life.

It’s hard to be creative in this world. I read an article this past week entitled ‘Creativity is Rejected: Teachers and bosses don’t value out-of-the-box thinking’ by Jessica Olien.  As I read it I couldn’t disagree.  Teachers and bosses and church people don’t value creative thinking according to this article. It actually doesn’t mention anything about church people but I think it holds true. People seem to reject all creative thinking as they like things as they are.  Creative thinking and ideas requires effort to carry out. It’s easy to just not do. It’s easier to leave things as they are.

Jessica Olien writes in conclusion “To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself.”

Letting go of satisfying others.
Letting go of being accepted.
Letting go.

Letting go is not something we do well in the church. We have a tendency to hold on to the past and cling to what we understand and this is not what Jesus seems to want from us. Jesus also speaks about letting go. He says we have to lose our lives to save it. Maybe this is the key. Maybe we need to lose everything to find out what it is that really matters.  Maybe this is why we’re suffering as a church right now. If suffering is needed for creativity maybe we need to suffer to encourage growth and new vision.

Creativity and suffering do at times seem to go hand in hand.

This was a good book.  A thought provoking book.  I’m glad I read it.

If you see me reading this week you might find the book The Ragamuffin Gospel by Bennan Manning in my hands.  If you’re just joining me now in my 52/52 project you can find other blog entries about the previous books I’ve read on my personal blog From Ministry to Motherhood.


About Becky Roushorne-Lau

Becky Roushorne-Lau is a wife and mother who also happens to be a minister in South Western Ontario. In her spare time she cooks, reads, writes and dreams of possibilities. She writes about family, faith, and her never ending search for the perfect dessert on her blog Subscribe to this blog.