Does my art matter?

I’ve been thinking lately about the role of art in my life. One of my ongoing struggles in college was feeling like I had to decide between art and missions. With the overwhelming need for the Gospel and the worldwide effects of poverty and injustice, making art seemed like a weak and frivolous thing to invest in. But would God really ask me to deny this part of who he created me to be? 

I felt incredibly blessed to find this opportunity to do graphic design for a missions organization. It’s been amazing to think that things I create can be used to reach people with the Gospel. However, this also made me realize that I was trying to justify to myself that it was only okay to pursue art if it was attached to something meaningful. Some of my work fits in this category, but a lot of the things that I gravitate towards making are just “pretty” or “whimsical.” They make people happy, but they don’t engage with any important issues. Does that mean that they matter less?

I watched some birds building a nest on the balcony the other day and was amazed by both the simplicity and complexity of their lives. They move and react and exist exactly as they were designed to. I thought about an ant carrying a leaf back to its colony and my cat chewing on his foot. All of these creatures are glorious because God made them. They bring glory to God simply by existing and by doing what they were created to do.

I realized that I was limiting my understanding of what art is by trying to define it in purely human terms. Art and creativity are part of who God is, because he is the ultimate creator and the original artist. Therefore, it’s not something that we can ever expect to fully understand. It transcends, interrupts, disrupts, and reframes the way we see the world. Art is so much more than just a hobby or a tool. It is a miracle all its own because it allows us to enter into the mystery and beauty of who God is. The act of creating itself becomes an act of worship rather than just another place where I try to earn my worth. I have the freedom to create because God created me to create.