When Creativity Comes From Conflict | Ranika Chaney

Ranika Chaney | Artist to Artist, Faith, Reflection & Growth | April 15, 2019

In The Beginning

Most stories start off pretty calm. Life is normal. Then there’s some conflict the main character experiences, only to overcome it and end well. When I think about how the love of spoken word entered my life, it was birthed out of conflict from the start. Literally, when family stories are retold, mine is the story of the unexpected, unwanted child. Think the story of Leah (Genesis 29-30), only it wasn’t a groom at the heels of my rejection but a parent. However, my story is not a sob story, but more of the theory of the pressing of coals to produce diamonds or beauty coming from ashes.

At the thought of being unwanted also came physical abuse to back up those thoughts. So I learned quickly that the best way to stay out of the way was to literally go unseen, and the place I did that best was in my room. I would write and write and write. There, in my thoughts, I could run and not have to walk. I could fall and not risk the consequences of my imperfection. I could be. Unharmed. I would mimic the preachers I saw every Sunday in my writings. Their vibrant vernacular mixed with passion and creative wordplay captivated the writer and lover of words in me.

Simultaneously, in the depths of their voices was a deep pain and hurt that somehow ended with a hope that they would be alright because God is God and has somehow overcome this world (John 16:33)—a world for me stricken with abuse and invisibility. Yet, when I wrote, I was seen. There was an audience of One. And He heard every poem that spilled from my pen. He caught every tear that smeared the pages when the pain of powerlessness faced me like a mirror. I survived. The artist in me thrived. Why? I have a few hunches.

How I Thrived

1. God’s grace. There is God’s grace for the artist (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)—somehow making pain press into something beautiful. Something that captivates others and pushes them to see the Creator in us.

2. The Church. Did I fail to mention that I lived next door to the church? At 5 years old I’d walk myself to the church and attend every chance, especially if there was an event for children. Just like any place, there were people who brought more pain but people who made me see Christ all the more clearly. Some people helped carry my burden with the love of Christ whether they knew it or not. No artist can get to their creative place alone—whether pushed there by pain or pulled in by the love of community.

3. God’s Word. As a writer, how could I not be influenced by the One who gave words? The One who “in the beginning, there was the Word” (John 1:1-3). Like my 9-year-old daughter said while reading the Bible in the car last week, “I don’t know what it is, but it’s like every time I read the Bible, it pierces my heart and brings me joy.” How could such a Word do both? It pierced my heart to get to my brokenness while giving me joy and hope of another world.

Eventually, I was able to read my words aloud to audiences in churches, schools, conferences throughout the U.S. And I’ve been told when I speak, there’s a captivating and deep pain that still somehow captures the creativity of the Creator. I found that my body could be harmed, but no one could take away my thoughts—the imagination, love of words and ideas that whisked me away to beautiful places I could only see with my mind. How about you? What’s the gift that’s called you out of conflict right into the heart of creativity?

Ranika Chaney is the Engagement Manager for Engage Art. Louisiana born and bred, Ranika graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in Communications-Broadcast Journalism and Sociology. Ranika loves public speaking, spoken word, reading and has a bit of an obsession with how the brain works. All of her loves find purpose and joy as she rears her 5 beautiful children. Once her little ones are tucked into bed, Ranika enjoys dancing (like no one is watching) and singing (like no one else can hear).

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