thoughts

fame & fortune

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Want to hear a confession of mine? There are so many days when I feel like so many of the things I do aren’t worth it anymore, that so much of it doesn’t have a point because it’s not “making an impact,” or maybe just not in the way I might expect it to. There are days when I wonder why I still keep up this blog, why I still write my famously long (and sometimes dramatically pensive) captions on my Instagram account, or why I have my separate Facebook page for my blogging and writing. There are days why I wonder why I still write at all, why I did NaNoWriMo when the chances of actually being a published novelist aren’t always the highest. And these are thoughts that most creatives probably have once in a while.

Because you know what the real, selfish reason is for all that? It’s that we wonder why we’re not wildly successful yet. We wonder why with all the hard work we’re putting into whatever we’re passionate about, why we aren’t famous yet. We wonder why we’re not the next big musician or New York Times Bestselling novelist. And we wonder all those things because that’s how we’ve been so conditioned to view success and to view influence.

 

We wonder why we aren't famous yet.

 

This is what society tells us.

It’s not good enough unless you’re photographing Fashion Week. It’s not good enough unless your novel gets a movie deal. It’s not good enough unless you’re designing for an international company. It’s not good enough unless you have tens of thousands of followers on Instagram. It’s not good enough unless it gets enough likes. It’s not good enough unless it goes viral on Twitter. It’s not good enough unless…fill in the criteria here. And by extension, it tell us that it’s not worth it or that it doesn’t matter, because it won’t be good enough unless it fits into one of those boxes.

 

Society tells us it's not good enough unless you have tens of thousands of followers on Instagram.

 

And it’s hard to keep creating when the world’s standards of evaluating the worth of your art are so different from God’s standards of evaluating it. He didn’t necessarily give us our creativity or the gifts we have to become famous or to go viral on social media. That might happen, and if so, we then have to bear the responsibility of that platform, but that’s never been the goal of why we create.

We create because we’ve been made in His image as the Creator. That’s why we have the ability to craft stories, make images, and string together melodies. It’s all because it reflects on Him and the little pieces of His essence that He’s placed into each and every one of us. In reality, maybe it’s better than more of us aren’t famous, because that can be so distracting and take our eyes off the One who truly deserves all the fame this entire little planet hurtling through space can muster. It should all really be for Him, but some of the creative climate has robbed so much of that from Him, telling us that it should be us getting all that glory.

 

But that's never been the goal. We create because we've been made in His image as the Creator.

 

But the truth of that matter is that whatever we create should remind us, subtly or overtly, of where that desire and magic of creation comes from. And the underlying message then is that it is good enough, whatever you’ve created.

 

You're good enough.

 

Your art is good enough. Your writing is good enough. Your music is good enough. Your images are good enough. Your design is good enough. Your copy is good enough. It’s all good enough, because the point of it all isn’t to make us famous, but to remind us that all of our creating flows out of the one Creator who gives us the ability to do it all.

So keep creating. It's good enough. You're good enough.

hazy light & thankfulness

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Something about foggy mornings filled with gray light always seems to pull me out of myself, in the best way possible. Still not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s the way everything seems to stand still and you’re more cognizant of all the little sights, smells, and sounds around you that might normally get lost in the chaos of a typical American day. Or maybe it’s the atmosphere around you that seems to whisper that it’s finally okay to let all your muscles relax and just breathe and be for once, taking a moment to slow down in our world that’s normally always running at a million miles an hour. Whatever it is, these slow, tranquil mornings always seem to return a little more of the perspective I’ve been missing throughout the rest of the week. And maybe we all need a little more of that. Regardless of what season of life we might find ourselves in, there always seems to be this nagging sensation that you should be doing more, accomplishing more, or otherwise never stopping. We might allow ourselves to take a single day, or maybe even just a single part of a day to take a breather and reflect, but more often than not we still feel guilty about that rest we so desperately need. It’s the curse of productivity baked into the fabric of American culture, or so it seems. We feel like we need to be constantly on the go otherwise everything else that’s going by at breakneck speeds will pass us by. But that might be where our ever looming sense of dissatisfaction comes from, or at least that’s what I’m starting to discover about myself.

Every time we ramp up the speed on the treadmill of life, it’s so easy for us to think we’re still not getting enough done or that we’re still just barely keeping up with everyone around us, when we’re already running ourselves ragged. We set all these goals and milestones for ourselves (that may or may not be realistic), and we start to feel all sorts of angst when things don’t play out exactly the way we want them to, whether that’s not graduating from school when we thought we would, not having the job you want right after graduation, not paying off your student loans as fast as you thought, or whatever else it might be. With a myriad of expectations we set for ourselves (or that are sometimes set for us), it’s easy to lock ourselves in a mindset that only welcomes disappointment and pushes us to move faster and faster to get to where we want to be.

But these slow mornings have been reminding me that with slowing down comes more perspective, letting us look backwards instead of just forwards. And when we start to take the time to look back a little more, we’re able to see all the things we have to be thankful for and all the things we’ve already accomplished and already done instead of just the things that we’re striving for in the future, which is a powerful reminder that not all is grim just because we’re not right where we want to be in the present. And if those moments of stillness are hard to come by, start creating them for yourself. They don’t have to exist only on the weekends or during long periods of rest. There are spaces to create that stillness for yourself even during the storm of the week. We just have to look out for them and be more intentional.

just wanting to live

Sometimes you just reach a breaking point. It’s not that you don’t care anymore or even that it’s not important anymore, but sometimes you just grow weary of the constant tension, the constant sensation of being “always on.” Because why wouldn’t that be exhausting? That’s sort of how I feel right now when it comes to Christian LGBTQ things and LGBTQ things in general, the dialogues, the conversations, the controversies, the debates, the activism, all of it. I feel burned out if I’m being completely honest.

 

And it’s gotten pretty darn close to the point of cynicism when it comes to these things now. Maybe it’s because I’ve already had 4 years to think about and process all my own thoughts and conflicts. Maybe it’s because I’m already out to my friends, family, and whoever else might care to know. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had to deal with many of the harsher realities of what this life and what this identity means for some people recently. Maybe, like Taylor Swift, it’s been a case of overexposure over the course of the last few years, with all the writing, rambling, and rallying I’ve been a part of.

 

I feel burned out if I'm being completely honest.

 

But maybe it’s also just a natural part of the ups and downs and cyclical nature of life itself. Maybe feelings and sensations like this come and go in waves. Maybe in a few weeks, months, or a year I’ll be back on the activism train and maybe even working in a position that would require that. That seems logical to me. It’s burned into my heart and soul after all, and there’s no running away from this existence, from this life that I’ve been living and will continue to live until the Lord decides my time is up.

 

For now though, I just want to live. And maybe this is a pipe dream or a symptom of some sort of privilege I didn’t quite realize I had, but I just want to be able to live my life without having to continually defend my own existence, my own convictions, my own identity, my own choices. I just want to be able to live my life without endlessly needing to explain why I think a certain way or why I’ve reconciled my identity with my faith and the rest of my life. That’s all really. I just want to live. I just want to be, and I long for the day when people can look at me, another anomaly among many (read: LGBTQ Christians), and others like me and just accept it at face value, without needing a long, drawn-out explanation or a theological argument to satisfy their own inner nagging curiosities or bouncer-to-the-Kingdom mentality.

 

I just want to be able to live my life without having to continually defend my own existence.

 

I just want to live, to wake up in the morning and go to work, to go to dinner with my friends every once in a while, to love the people I love, to hold someone’s hand, to talk about the future, and to be able to go to bed at night not feeling like I stick out in the church pews with a neon sign above my head just by virtue of being here on this earth.

 

And maybe one of the ways to fulfill that longing to just be, to just live is take a step back and do it. Obviously, this is always going to be something kindling in the depths of my heart and spirit, but I think I’m also willing to go with the ebb and flow.

 

So, who knows? Maybe now that I’m starting to get settled at work and having a functional computer again (long, strange story…haha) I’ll be back to writing here semi-frequently, but maybe I’ll also just lie low for a while to try this whole “just being” and “just living” thing. I have no idea. That’s where I’m at, and I’m going with the flow.

Being Gay at Bethel: Revisited

Here's a piece I wrote back in the spring about some good changes and things I see happening back at my alma mater (that sounds weird to say...). Bethel is one of my favorite places, and I'm thankful for the ways God is moving there, especially in the sense that LGBTQ students are starting to feel safer and that the atmosphere is shifting for the better. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.

ebb & flow // good people

The tides always seem to change at the most inopportune times, or at least that idea has occupied quite a bit of my mental space as of late. When I first started this writing challenge, it was for the purpose of forcing myself to write something, anything, every day because I found myself running out of ideas. I would sit down to write and comb through my brain for anything to latch onto, anything that could possibly become new material, but after only a few days, I think I've successfully stoked my literary fire back to life. Ideas are plentiful again, and I'm now having the opposite of problem of trying to focus my energies on just one topic at a time so that I'll actually complete a piece over the span of a day or few.  

That was my tripwire today. It was a busier day than it had been the past few, and my mental energy was scattered between a few different projects I wanted to work on. By this time in the day, with the sun setting, I’ve only made minor progress on all the different pieces that I’ve started (and subsequently left to start another), but that in and of itself seems to be an interesting point of reflection. It’s fascinating to think about how we can accomplish more, or perhaps feel more accomplished, when simply working on one small project, even if that happens to be just writing something in order to keep our creative energies circulating, than when we have several different outlets at our disposal all vying for our attention at once.

 

Over the next few days, hopefully I’ll be able to gather myself and focus on a few of the main projects that I have going on so that I’ll actually be able to finish them. I have a couple poems, a creative nonfiction piece, and a prompt for a short story or two that I’ll be working on for this next chunk of time, so that should be a challenge as I weave my way through a few different genres of writing and subtly adapt my style as I go.

 

For today though, I recently found an older poem that I wrote several months ago during another sort of writing challenge I put myself through. I was trying to compose at least one entry for each section of a literary magazine I was submitting to, and scrawled this down while I was sitting at my desk in Spain one day. It’s relatively short, but I think it also captures a lot of the things I was thinking about at the time, a lot of which involved social justice. Though I don’t necessarily think it’s some of my best work ever, I do think the underlying ideas are still as relevant as ever to me, contemplation on the notion that we tend to arbitrarily assign value to people without really thinking about the filters or criteria we’re using to make those evaluations.

 

One last thought: I sort of always hate when I write posts like these, more of a running mental monologue than anything of real substance, but I suppose it also falls within the realm of being able to write something at least vaguely publishable every day in order to keep your firing going, because after all, even a roaring flame still needs fuel at its base.

 

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good | people

what is darkness?

what is light?

the world, the church, the sun, the night?

everyone says,

something else,

but no one can decide who the hell is right,

there are people,

good and bad,

in every corner, from every line of sight,

so maybe if,

we tried a little harder,

if we had a little more faith, we just might,

be able to see,

more good people,

instead worrying whether or not we’re right