Faith, for the Creatives

Being a Christian writing really nonchristian work

Though my faith is important to me, my work doesn’t fit into the rules of that genre. If you’ve read books from the Christian market, you probably picked up on that 😉 Sorry, but my murderous psychopath protagonist isn’t gonna go to church and convert.

And yet, if you stick around long enough, you may hear about my faith on my blog and social media. It doesn’t make sense for marketing or branding purposes, I know. But here’s a peek behind the curtain of why. (Note: it’s not some sort of cheesy “hide it under a bushel” answer either.)

The problem:

There’s this perception within pockets of Christianity that if your art isn’t explicitly Christian in theme – if you’re not painting pictures of Jesus or writing Scripture on your artwork, if you’re not singing worship songs or at least angsty churchy themes, if you’re not writing clean Christian-themed books that wrap everything up in a tidy Jesus-saves-the-day bow – then you’re not using your gifts for God.

What further perpetuates that mindset is that it’s hard to find Christians who are doing their art in the general marketplace, not because they’re not there, but because their websites understandably don’t scream “Christian alert!”. It’s arguably easy to connect with artists in the marketplace. And it’s relatively easy to find Christian artists making Christian art. However, it’s hard to find Christian artists in the secular market. Their faith is not their branding, so they’re inconspicuous.

A solution…?

Kiera Cass was one of the first writers I found who has nothing to do with the Christian market but still mentions her faith. Matt Tommey and Alex Marestaing have both spoken at Karitos Christian Arts Conference about believers working in the secular market instead of separating ourselves into this Christian bubble. And I recently finished a book by Marlita Hill about “represent[ing] the Kingdom while…making ‘that kind’ of art,” (that’s an affiliate link, I may receive a portion of sales through that link). The book is an encouraging and hopeful book for this weirdly taboo topic in Christian circles. One day, I want to be what those people have been to me, an example to some artist who wonders if they can create nonchristian work and still honor their faith and their God.

I’m still learning how my faith plays into my writing. What I do know is: There’s not the Christian Amy and the writer Amy. It’s not two separate Amys, two separate lives; all pieces of me are intermingled. My writing, and my faith, together. They play into each other, perhaps in subtle ways rather than overt. If you look really closely, you just might see my faith as you read about my murderous psychopath protagonist. And when you look at faith really closely, it may not tie into the way you envision a Jesus-saves-the-day bow. It doesn’t always look like a good story, but it could still be a good story.

Showcasing other Creatives

Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher

I had the privilege of being part of Hannah Brencher’s book launch for Come Matter Here.

It’s for those in a season of transition and those in a season of waiting. It’s for questioning. It speaks on community and mental health and faith and being present. It’s an anchor and it’s wings. It’s beautiful.

And maybe it’s for you.

I’ve followed Hannah’s blog and social media for awhile, and she does not take lightly the responsibility of the platform she’s been given. She’s a consistent reminder to show up for people. To use our lives and our careers and our passion to value people rather than treat them as a commodity. She’s a dreamer and a hustler, but she manages to values people through that work.

If you’ve read Hannah’s blog or Monday morning emails or social media, Come Matter Here is just an overflow of that same heart.

I wanted to share one of my favorite passages of hope in the journey:

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If this book speaks to you, order it. If nothing else, follow Hannah’s blog and sign up for her Monday morning emails to give your Monday a little pep. You won’t regret getting to know this rockstar of a human being.

Faith

How to Retain Youth in Church

Questions aren’t the enemy.

The more I hear from those jaded and disillusioned by the church, those who love some idea of God but not the church’s, the more I feel the need to say that questions aren’t the enemy.

Can we just admit that we don’t know what we’re talking about?

We follow some biblical rules and we ignore others because they’re outdated or cultural or whatever reason we give. We skip over passages that don’t have an easy answer or don’t fit with our worldview. We add rules that the Bible never talks about. Can we admit that everything we do doesn’t make sense? And that’s okay. We could be wrong, we’re still figuring it out, and we can disagree on many things and still be brothers and sisters.

We can’t look down on those who question, because they supposedly have less faith or revelation or are further from God or drawn by sin and pleasures of this world.

Questioning the church – that’s not a sin. That’s not even necessarily temptation. That’s the first step to creating a personal faith that can’t be shaken when outside the church building.

I think of the many people who asked Jesus questions, who didn’t understand, and I’m pretty sure they made it to heaven just fine.

The church needs to be a place open to questions, to dialogue, not shying away from anyone who questions the norm. We don’t have to change our minds – though we might on some things – but I think we need to dialogue without judgement of the inquisitive.

 

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Mental Health

The Sanctity of Carpet Stains

My tears have stained the carpet.

I first noticed them right after, as I stepped on the dampness while on my way to a kleenex.

Now I step gingerly around them as I skirt through the hall, I scoop the popcorn kernels that shoot from the stove to be seasoned by the salty carpet, I kneel to that location and collect my tears there instead of a bottle. I can’t trample them; it’s too vulgar, it dishonors the sanctity of that moment, of what happened.

No one else can see the tears, but they haunt my hall in glaring reminder of the day I lost myself. Or found myself and lost my god. I’m still unsure.

It’s funny how when someone questions their entire belief system, the safest place to go with the questions isn’t the church or the christians or the religious. It’s the skeptics, the open-minded, the sinners. They can take the uncertainty and confusion, the very things that scare the church into answers, so many answers; of ignoring the big bad emotions, and acting from faith and trust, or being a false convert or backslidden or at best spiritually immature.

And I’m still bleeding where you cut me, but I’ve already forgiven you.

Did everyone see this coming?

The “I told you so”s scream so loud, and I just want to scream over them, “No, this is me, I’ve always been here, why couldn’t you see, please see…”

Why does authenticity sometimes mean being wrong? How does character sometimes mean lying?

I wonder how many times God will listen to the prayer “Don’t give up on me!” before He thinks this is ridiculous and that prayer can’t be my continuous failsafe for a life of doubt.

I like to think, to hope, that God draws closer in these moments than the moments of blind faith. I’m sure that’s the politically correct answer, but it’s all I can hold on to right now. That somehow those tears absorbed into the carpet can still be scooped into His bottle to one day have Him pull them out and reminisce about all the doubts and fears and how He was there through it all, orchestrating everything surrounding my fumbling faith.

And I’ve stopped bleeding, but I just can’t forgive you.

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