the importance of being creative during deconstruction

"Alone But Not Lonely" painting by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Alone But Not Lonely” painting by nakedpastor David Hayward

This painting is available in my gallery. CLICK HERE TO VIEW IT.

This is a watercolor painting I worked on over the weekend. I call it “Alone But Not Lonely”.

(This post was originally written for the members of The Lasting Supper. I invite you to join us for more stuff like this.)

Let me tell you a story.

Making art was an important part of my healing and reconstruction process.

I didn’t know this at the beginning of my deconstruction. It didn’t know this consciously after I’d left the ministry and the church. In fact, it wasn’t until I published my new book, The Liberation of Sophia, that I realized making art helped save me.

It was the week after I left the church when I drew my first Sophia drawing. The one with the bear. The inspiration to draw her was unstoppable.

It was four years later when I drew my last one. The inspiration to draw her stopped.

It was when it stopped that I realized it was probably important that I did it. Drawing Sophia every week and writing about her journey was, I concluded, a crucial part of my healing.

It’s strange, but when I stopped drawing Sophia, I also stopped painting. I haven’t done a new piece in quite a while.

I draw my cartoons every day. I enjoy it. It’s creative. But it’s my work.

Being creative just for creativity’s sake! I need to get disciplined in that again. And I’m going to advise people when they are going through deconstruction to be creative and discipline themselves to be creative every day.


Because now I realize that creating things does something positive for us:

  1. It gives us some happiness because even while we are crashing and our world is crashing around us, that we can still create something.
  2. It inspires us that even though we might feel ugly in an ugly world, there are still remarkable things of beauty to be enjoyed.
  3. It empowers us to know that even while everything seems to be trying to stop us, we will still give birth to new and wonderful things.

So, here’s our exercise:

I believe everyone is a creator. Everyone is an artist. What are you making? What can you make? A painting? A dance? A poem? A journal entry? A blog post? A perfect medium rare steak? An awesome daily Facebook update? A flower arrangement? An urn? A sound of a crow? A computer code? Anything!

I’d love to hear, see, and know what kind of things you guys are creating.


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15 Responses

  1. David Waters says:

    Evolution demands that one thing replace another. Dr Phil says we don’t lose habits, we replace them with better/healthier ones. For me, writing was the most therapeutic thing I ever did. You put a period at the end and move on, rather than playing the tape over and over and over…

  2. Robin says:

    I”m a writer too. I’m “in-between” at the moment when it comes to novel writing….my rough draft is done and I’m letting it rest while a friend reads it and until I get Word again (it’s not on this computer)(which is also why I’m not working on something else why my draft rests lol) So I’m resting my brain from fiction for just a bit…and put up posts at my blog and the blog I co-author. *thumbs up*

  3. Sabio Lantz says:

    Wow, that is gorgeous David!
    And deep in feelings. Very nice !!

    It has always been obvious to me that your art was your one of your forms of therapy — hell, creativity is amazing therapy for all of us. But your work was public and naked — brave and honest.

    That is a fascinating story about how Sophia fit in. Maybe you can work on a new set of female drawings: older, not generically thin and full of imperfections like all us humans.
    Heck, how about old man drawings — why idealize youth?

    Great exercise challenge:
    Take a break from consuming, create !
    (I tell my kids this occasionally)

  4. Thanks guys. There’s an idea Sabio… an old man.

  5. Sabio Lantz says:

    Yeah, inspire flexibility inspite of years of bad habits, of health problems, of mistakes. An old guy saying “From today forward!” – re embracing change, discipline, reaching out to other and loving himself as he inevitably falls apart. Or something like that — but with your stuff, of course.

  6. irreverance says:

    I love the colors in this!

  7. thanks irreverance. it was fun painting it… experimenting with the colors.

  8. Cynthia Cunningham Shigo says:

    David, this is wonderful. I teach education courses at the University of Kansas, and one of the big ideas I talk about in every class is that the stories we tell about ourselves create our identity. We become the person we craft in the stories we tell. When raising children, I believe that the stories they hear us tell about them must always create self-confidence and belief in their own person as the treasure of Christ and the delight of the Father. The art we create is healing because it is an exercise in identity formation, in becoming the people we want to be. I am working on my doctoral dissertation in teacher identity formation. But I am creating myself in the poetry I write and a novel I am working on about my years in a boarding school in Nigeria.

  9. Thanks Cynthia! Sounds wonderful. And creative! 😉

  10. kris799 says:

    I have to learn to accept my creative side. I write poetry and now meditations and I do photography. I used to always say “but that is not really me” when doing my work but IT IS ME! And I need to celebrate that.

  11. nexar says:

    Very serene David. Love it.

  12. Car says:

    You need to add some objects on this painting.:) Do not take me seriously I’m not some art expert 🙂

  13. sharonleepeters says:

    “Reclaiming the sacred in our lives naturally brings us close once more to the wellsprings of poetry.”
    ― Robert Bly
    I have had several instances in my life when illness made it impossible to continue making art. I thought, well i’ll give up making art and work as a house cleaner for awhile. the inspiration might return. then I got too sick to clean houses. I didn’t want my life to be about that. then I took up w/ prescription drugs and anti depressants. for awhile my life was about substances that made me sick in another way beside my other sicknesses but I made jewelry I could not sell it though. I gave it away. then there came a day I got the f_ _kits! and I put away 3/4 of a fifth of vodka a day. came around to 3 years later and I took up w/ a.a. I felt like an ice cube floating in a hot sea. longing to connect I made collages in books and was content to organize my life around cunning bits of colored paper and art pens. once again illness intervened and I am tempted to yield to dispare except you are there.

  14. Glad you’re here Sharonleepeters