Built to Build

I don’t do many text posts. I’m hardly every witty, tend to be verbose and usually write too much at work to have any brainpower left when I get home. Nine times out of ten, I’m an absorber rather than a creator. Collecting, admiring and critiquing culture is easier than making it. My ‘creating’, in terms of photography, falls in the same vein. I don’t impose; I record and I collect. That’s probably why I’m way more active in the womb of Tumblr than in the wide expanses of WordPress.

Maybe it’s a fear of ‘failure’ that hedges me in. The last thing I want to do is become one of those National Novel Writing Month ladies, marinating in a circle of mediocrity (or worse) and hollowly congratulating my fellows on false talent.

Maybe that’s it! Maybe I’m seeing the worst in people (and, as it follows, in myself) and therefore find myself using horrid terms like ‘false talent’. What kind of insufferable snob am I? Snobs can’t create; their endless criticisms retard imagination.

But saying I only see ugliness isn’t quite accurate, either. What about when I read something and rewrite the passage, simply for the satisfaction of retracing it in my own notebook? Or when I feel so close to a character that I lose it in the last scene and start sobbing uncontrollably in my living room? Or when I dance down the street, grinning like a fool on the way to class with that perfect album pouring into my ears? I see the beauty then, and it is so bright I can’t even handle it. I admire these creators.

Sometimes these masterpieces get twisted in my mind. Creations that I should examine in admiration and probe for inspiration, I instead use to create walls. These beauties become barriers to entry, and I find them taller every time I try peering over.

I pigeonhole myself from the beginning. I take that dreadfully appealing personality score way too seriously. Past footsteps become borders on a map, and I can’t seem to get off it. I walk further inward, and I find my world growing smaller. I look inside myself to see the answers, and it only gets darker.

No matter what I am, I have a beginning. I’m not a waif in someone’s memory or a lucky (or unlucky) result of chance. My life is short in comparison to eternity, but I do have a Creator. I’m formed concretely and there are talents and tendencies and thoughts in my head that did not manifest themselves simply by cells multiplying.

Maybe it’s looking in and not up that does it. It’s not that I see the worst in people and in myself. I just don’t see the Creator enough to see the potential. I admire bits of His image in the work of others, but I don’t see the empty patches in my mind or in theirs where things grow. At every moment, neurons create new connections and strengthen or weaken old ones. The brain never stops building, and I think that is beautiful.

I am human, yet I am made in the likeness of the God who made me. My being is instinctively creating in every moment—I do it to survive and I don’t even see it. My apathy is borne out of blindness to the Lord’s creation, but now I want to see. I want to discover, I want to know what I can cultivate and I want to grow more like my Creator. I want to bring Him glory. I want to see others like He sees them. I am built to build. It’s time to start.


About Kelly J. Hagen

I'm a lifelong learner currently studying journalism and political science at University of Missouri. I love spending time with people, books and cameras. You can usually find me with a thermos full of coffee in my hand.
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