Living an Authentic Life as a Christian and an Artist

You might have notice, that lately I am Everywhere on the Internet. In the interest of getting my stuff out there, I have been going hardcore into social media. It is equal parts thrilling, frustrating, and a little bit terrifying. In light of that, and more specifically the fact that I have actually been showing people my art—real live people that I know and go to church with, and have worked with in real life—I have been doing a lot of self-reflection.

And here is the thing: I don’t fit neatly into any specific niche. I’m too vulgar for the church, but I’m too churched for the world. Too alternative for the pews, too full of Jesus for the atheists. Everywhere I go, I constantly do not fit in. I feel like I am bound and determined to constantly be pissing all sides off.

Sometimes I want to hide, you know. I’m tempted to change the art that I make, tempted to hide the writing I do. To take anything off the table that shares too much of my heart or my beliefs—especially the ones that are too. Too something, the what never really matters much. If you split the difference and walk the middle road, it’s impossible to offend anyone. And yet, if you do that the magic rubs off; and you are left with something bland and uninspiring where the sparkle used to be.

How it feels to be a Christ-follower and an artist, and a writer, and to want so badly for others to love and approve of me: this is it right here.

And yet, I feel called to authenticity. And so I steel myself and say to myself that yes, perhaps I will constantly be pissing off most people… but I can hope that in the midst of it there are other people caught in the middle. People like me, who are too much of all of the things to be one thing. People who are many things.

Who are working out their salvation with fear and trembling, while trying to learn how they fit into 2018 in America. Who are filled with such compassion for the LGBT community that it hurts their spirits, but who are willing to say, “God, you are in control. It is your plan, and I trust you. If it makes me look hateful, if other people don’t understand. If it makes me look like a fucking fool… still, I trust you.”

people posing sunset

Two things come to mind:

This video of a poem by Sierra DeMulder, called “Talking to God” (“Half of us are broke, the other half are breaking, and I am just a witness to half of it […] Remind me life is suffering, existence is coincidence, and I am just a witness to half of it.”)

And this poem by John Donne:

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

And last but not least, I just want to remind you all that I’ve moved to hopezane.com! You can find me and all my writing, art, and other wacky projects there.

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Rewind, recyle; onboard, offload.

To stand up and be a man.
To stand up and be a woman.

I’ve been tired lately, way down deep in the Everybody Gets There.

The stories push at the bars of my mind, but they don’t get out.
I think of them in there, throwing their bodies at the wall,
growing thinner and smaller, their bright radiance worn off in the stew of time.
The Specialness wears off if you wait too long.

“Stew of time,” I stole that from Rex Wilder.

I’m afraid to speak, but I hate myself when I don’t.
How’s that for a Catch-22?

Flash Fiction

(Featured image by Nico Paix via Flickr)

I’m organizing my thoughts, going through a huge stack of notebooks trying to parse the skeleton of my novel’s series. All that to say, expect me to feed you some of the scraps that I find in the coming weeks. Like this six-word short story I wrote forever ago:

I insult strangers because of you.

And this one is seven words, but who’s counting?

Pain tempered her, made her more swan-like.

06.28.13

I was the girl with the magic bullet, trying to weave fantasy into the world, trying to make the myth flesh.

And sometimes I succeeded, in that little cozy room with the lights that winked amethyst, that winked rose-water pink, cast soft shadows on glittering wall tapestries. Rigid and straight-backed, often I failed, but sometimes I wrought such beauty.

Does the joy outweigh the pains, I wonder? In the sea of time, do I count it as a loss or gain?

Hindsight isn’t always 20/20, but sometimes the fog does lift for a little while. Sometimes we do come out of the forest.

Tassajara, what did Ginsberg pray for? What steep yellow lights have laid your insides so bare and foreign?

The night folds her wings around us.

What the Fuck is a Love Tincture?

Finally, the post I’ve meant to get around to creating: What the fuck is a love tincture?

You all know what love means. I’m not going to pretend you’re morons by defining it. Tincture, however, is a rarer word. A tincture is a remedy. The dictionary defines it as “a medicine made by dissolving a drug in alcohol.” Or, alternately, “a slight trace of something.” Pick your poison.

In my eyes, Love Tincture is a cure. A cure to the common, a cure to apathy and boredom, a balm for this world’s malaise.

I say that, and I’m afraid I’m being selfish.Why should I get to say that this writing is a cure? (brash, rude). It is at least a salve for me, and with luck, maybe for you too.

You see, I don’t have the authority to talk about you, to say who you are. I don’t know you, but I do know who I am. I know you have stories, and maybe in telling my own, I’ll tell some of yours as well.

I still believe that if I tap my own well deep enough, I will get to the groundwater that binds us all together. The only way out is down. We’ve got to swim for the bottom, plumbing the depths of all that fear and  wonder that’s in us.

I promise to be unflinchingly honest if you promise to keep reading.