Creative ideas and the Mind that inspires

A Christian Science perspective.

I recently spotted an ad with a depiction of the brain. The left side was black and white, decked out in computer code and words such as “scientist, mathematician, always in control, logic.” The right side was colorful and artistic, and read: “free spirit, passion, poetry, imagination.”

For most of my life, I dubbed myself a “right brain” person. I despised math and physics classes and treasured writing and arts. Yet all along I’d been learning in Christian Science Sunday School that God, not my brain, was the center of my ideas and creativity. Sometimes it may seem as if we lack ideas to progress in our endeavors – whether that’s starting a new company or painting a picture. But the truth is that creativity is divine, inspired by God and independent of our brain, our age, or any other factor.

God gives us an infinite number of ideas, and every idea has the ability to make an impact as it ripples out from its source. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 307). God is constantly supplying us with wisdom, grace, talent, and opportunities to bless others.

This year, I left a journalism career and started teaching middle school students. One of the subjects I had to teach was math. At first, I didn’t know how I would teach math concepts – that area was way out of my comfort zone! In search of creative ideas, I turned to prayer for insight. It’s been helpful for me to view creativity as a flower that’s gently opening its petals each day. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear” (p. 506).

When our creative spark seems to be missing, we may feel like thirsty flowers, seeking inspiration as a flower craves water. But God is at work, unfolding each petal (or idea) so that we can share these good thoughts with others. As I created my lesson plans, I would think about a big sunflower (my favorite flower) and how it represented my direct connection to God. Because I’m connected to God, the true source of creativity, I could expect that every idea would bloom and multiply with fruitful results.

As I prayed with this idea, I saw that I could approach each day as if I were tending a garden. I might start with a single idea, but a co-worker, friend, or family member would contribute to the garden with their own blossom of ideas. When I thought about creativity this way, I saw I wasn’t alone in my pursuit of blessing others – and my math classes were a big hit. (I even taught one concept through song!)

As God’s creation, we have an inherent connection to His infinite creative ideas. This means we never have to feel inadequate when facing challenges. Age can’t be a factor either: We can never be too young or too old to try something new. God gives us what we need to move forward and progress spiritually in whatever we’re doing.Today, you can tend your garden of ideas – whether it begins with a single petal unfolding or a bunch of daffodils springing into action. God’s creative garden is bountiful – no matter which season or time of year.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.