Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In God's Image?

If we are created in God's image, what does that mean? Is your image of God the only image that is real? Or does your image of God depend on your religious background and beliefs and, therefore, differs from one person to another? And can we limit God? Is that the only image that God has?

If your image of God is based on physical features - human, animal, tree, etc. - how then is God's image reflected in you? We see with human eyes. Surely God sees more than we can ever see. Perhaps God's image is not at all based on physical form. 

If that is the case, then how are we like God? How do we reflect God's image? To know this we must know more about God. What non-physical characteristics do we have, or could have, that are like God? 

Most people will agree that God is the Creator. So then, we can be creators. Creativity is a characteristic that I believe exists in all of us. How that is manifested varies. Often creativity is not nurtured and supported in children and they grow up thinking that they have none. But it is there, nonetheless.

Anyone can imagine, can use their imagination. I used to have clients in my therapy groups who were sure they had no imagination. It was a simple thing to teach them that they could and did use their imagination. I'd ask them to close their eyes and see themselves getting dressed in the morning. Where were their shoes before they put them on? Which foot did they shoe first? I'd walk them through imagining their morning rituals. 

But, they'd protest, that's just memory. Yes! And memory is imagination. It obviously wasn't really happening in the now. They were imagining it. And they did that all the time. That is one reason why our memories aren't that dependably accurate. 

We also use imagination and creativity to solve problems. We consider choices and imagine the probable outcomes of each. The better we are at doing that the more successful our choices are. This was another area we worked on in therapy. We'd look at expanding awareness of choices, of possibilities. This is especially important in interpreting the behavior of others. 

When we put meaning to the behavior of others we are using our imagination. Unless the person is telling us what they mean we are imagining what their behavior means based on our own perspectives. I'd take my clients through exercises where they were challenged to imagine what else someone's behavior might mean. The lesson was to challenge them to not base their interpretations on the limited knowledge they had about that other person. We misinterpret the behavior of others and create conflict when we don't have open communication or we jump to conclusions.

So we have the God-given ability to imagine and to create. And we can use it to help or to hinder us. And using our creativity can benefit us as well as others. 

It amazed me how many men in prison discovered they could create art. But over time I realized that we all have some creative talent if we take the time to explore it. Most of us are so busy in our day to day lives that the "leisure" to create art is not even considered. However, there are many ways to encourage our creativity.

Art is everywhere and in everything if we look for it. There is more to art than the graphic arts and sculpture. The arts include music, drama, poetry, story telling. Every craft grows out of art in some way. Creating a new recipe is an art. Decorating your home involves art. Creating your flower garden is art. All creativity is art. Yes, even modern graffiti is art. 

Nurture your creativity. Explore how you use your imagination. What can you create that benefits others? How can you use your creativity to make the world a better place? Do you use creative problem solving rather than just following the same old pattern of stimulus-response?

Have you taken the time to explore your own creative talent? Have you nurtured your imagination? Have you explored how your imagination can be beneficial? We are given these talents in the image of God. Have you thought of how God wants you to use your talents?

How can you support the creativity of others? If you aren't very artistic yourself, do you support those who are? Do you encourage children to use their imaginations to help them solve problems and to develop talents? 

Visit an art museum or art show. Go to a play. Attend a classical concert. Read about various artists. Check out a folk music festival. Attend a poetry reading. Listen to storytellers. Spend time in nature and appreciate the colors and designs of plants and animals, clouds and sky. Open your awareness to colors and shapes. Participate in a craft. Support local artists of every kind. Involve kids in the arts. Donate art and craft supplies to low income schools and day care.

We can all make the world a better place by participating and supporting creativity.

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