Day 3: The One Word that Kills Creativity {And Everything Else}

Welcome to Day 3 of the On Being Creative series! You’ll find links to all the posts as they’re added on the series’ homepage here.

Day 3

There is one word with which I’ve noticed myself fighting some of my most frequent battles. Actually, I look around and see a whole world of people fighting battles with this word. And it’s not just creatives. It’s pretty much everyone to some degree at some point in their life.

We’ve allowed it to become utterly welcome in our vernacular. And I’m here to tell you it must be eradicated. Because it’s gotten WAY too comfortable. It promised a short visit, but in fact, we’ve let it unpack it’s belongings and freeload off of all our emotional, mental, physical, and often spiritual resources until everything we do serves this word.

That word is should.

Never has a guest been so unwanted in my life as Should- especially recently. Maybe it’s because I’m a creative person and there are just SO many people out there doing amazing creative things and offering creative advice and courses and spreading their work all over the internet until they seem ubiquitous and I think- I Should too.

Should reminds me like a judgy, toxic friend that there’s barely enough of me to spread over a dry piece of toast. I say it reminds me because it’s been telling me that for years. 

Let me be clear here. Because you might be hesitant, wondering about the times when Should is an appropriate guest. What about when we Should do the right thing or some other example like that? I thought that myself. And it’s true, there is a time for conviction. But Conviction is a friend that empowers; it enters to do holy, healing work. Should on the other hand speaks the language of guilt, and guilt is not of God. The difference between Should and Conviction is like the gap between east and west. Should yields death, but Conviction yields life. Should is the work of Satan, but Conviction is the work of the Spirit.

That is a monumental difference, friends.

In the book Wild and Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, they had this to say about Conviction:

Conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit is not to be confused with shame. Holy conviction leads to repentance, while shame only leads to bondage and hiding. Shame cannot exist in the light, though it flourishes in the darkness.” (Connolly/Morgan, p. 56)

Should is really just Shame dressed up in it’s Sunday best, pretending it totally belongs here. I think if anyone embodied what Should personified would look like, it would be Professor Umbridge, with her pink, frilly everything and her coifed hair and her tightly wound, ready-to-pounce-on-your-every-move stance. There’s no grace in Should. Just a lot of destruction and pain and judgement living under a thin visage of goodness.

Let’s just have a moment right now ok? A big, loud moment where we tell Should to shove it and GET OUT OF HERE. Take your prissy, know-it-all attitude and your unwanted frilly pillows and NEVER COME BACK.

But batten down the hatches, friends, because Should might look like it’s leaving for good, but it’ll be back, banging on the door at 3:00 AM to screech its tired but timeless methods of breaking our spirits once more.

You mustn’t let it in. Don’t let it come in and tend the soil of your soul, because it has a grey thumb that only grows painful, choky thorns that tell you nothing good can grow here inside you.

Brennan Manning once said, “Don’t should on yourself.” Amen, Mr. Manning.

Should will kill your creativity by telling you you’re not doing enough, you’re not talented enough, and you’ll never reach any level of “enough.” But God is more than enough, and it turns out, talking about your talents as enough or not enough misses the entire point.

Remember the boy with loaves and fish? If there ever was an instance of something not being enough, that was it. But just as God turned meager crumbs into a feast, he turns our talents into beautiful, powerful ambassadors of his kingdom.

Don’t clothe yourself in rags anymore. You are a child of the Most High God. They call him the Almighty, and we bear his image. So, wear the might of your Father’s love, and be mastered by Should no longer.

Let’s no longer be slaves to something as meager and puny and mewling as Should, not in our creativity nor in any other capacity of our lives.

Let’s sing this song instead.


Next Up: Five Tips to Cultivate Creativity {Day 4}

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