I was the little girl who got a bloody nose during her first dance recital, slipping in her tap shoes. My daughters, who are much more talented than I was, recently participated in their annual dance recital, an end to which they’ve worked the entire year. The taps, the kicks, the twirls…our house is full of them. In fact, my daughters dance all the time, even when they are not participating in a recital. They dance in church, at home, in public, in their room…it is how they express themselves.
God’s heart is so profoundly happy when we use our gifts, our talents, our bodies, our energy to make something beautiful for him to behold. My son will dance, but he prefers his sketchpad. It goes with him almost everywhere. He draws to process the world and his emotions. So that is why I was sad to find out that another boy at camp had criticized his art during the art rotation. A taunting word didn’t bother my son just because someone made fun of his art, but because his art is so much a part of who he is and how he shares his heart with the world. To belittle my daughter’s dancing or my son’s drawing is to disparage part of their very souls.
And so I told this to my son. I told him that art is not an easy thing to judge, nor is it something that everyone will necessarily like. We all have preferences and particularities when it comes to the type of painting we hang or the type of music we listen to, but it doesn’t mean that the artist made bad art just because Joe doesn’t like tap dancing or Jane doesn’t like impressionist paintings. I told him to express himself in a way that is true to who he is, true to what he sees as beautiful and good, and that as he offers his gifts to God, they will be received with the love in which they are prepared and offered. In 2 Samuel 6, David dances for God with great heart and enthusiasm. His wife is unimpressed, probably embarrassed by his un-kingly display, and challenges him for acting in a vulgar and undignified way. David doesn’t budge. Come what may, he will celebrate his God. My sweet son need not change his art to please people. Art is meant to please God. And when created with a heart of love and joy, it will also bless the artist who creates it.
God himself is an artist, and as a people created in his image, we can create masterworks of our own. He delights when we paint a picture or write a poem or choreograph a dance. He paints the sky for us every day, he colors the leaves on the trees, he fashions new faces and bodies and souls. New life, new art…God creates every day. “The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)
Where is your heart longing to create something new? Don’t be afraid to offer your art to your God because you think you aren’t a good enough artist. I bloodied my nose in my first recital and probably never really got that much better, but still I dance alongside my daughters in the living room. I draw on my son’s sketchpad to fill out a picture just to watch him snicker at my attempts to match his style. He’ll smile at me because together we’ve made something that tells a little bit about who we are, even if that picture is of a Jedi knight with a light saber looking out over an ocean where a dolphin leaps into the air. I let my little girl pick her own outfits, suited to her own idea of what is stylish. I complement my baby boy’s Lego race car creation that resembles a box of sorts with a house door on the side. I can see little bits of how his mind is working on the inside when I see what he produces on the outside. And it brings me joy to see them pushing boundaries, trying new things, expressing themselves in new and healthy ways. And I love every picture they make me, every piece of beaded jewelry they string, every piece of cinnamon toast they prepare…their creative offerings are a reflection of the love in their heart and I just eat it up.
I want to be like my kids when it comes to my relationship to God. I want to give Him all I can and not be embarrassed that maybe some other people—or God himself—won’t like what I have to offer. I want to be confident of my relationship with my heavenly Father such that He sees the love in my heart when he sees my offering of dance or song or decorating or cooking or writing. There are so many ways to make new things to share and serve. I hope that the “art” of my life is pleasing to people, that they can partake of it and see something of God there and be drawn to the Lord. But if they don’t, it’s okay. Because God is the best Father and He will love love love it. Because he knows my heart, and isn’t that where the truest art begins?