As an artistic person I have often felt like I was going through life getting to sit at the grownup table at Thanksgiving, but not really belonging there.
Last week I had the privilege of being a part of a conference in Chicago called, STORY 2012. It is a group that celebrates people who are expressing their faith through a variety of creative pursuits. Film, music, authors, entertainment, design, and media were all represented in some form.
Anne Lamott passed along tidbits as basic as, “If you want to be a writer, you have to carry a pen. Get a pen. Steal a pen. But have a pen.” Erwin McManus shared his crisis of faith that led him out of vocational ministry and into filmmaking, fashion, and art. Phil Vischer, one of the main creators and voices of Veggie Tales recounted how his company tanking resulted in him seeking new ventures from a completely new vantage point spiritually. Others spoke about being a recovering person and how surrender changed the way they experience creativity.
Nearly every speaker shared how adversity, being thrust from their comfort zones, and simply feeling ill equipped to face the challenges that were put in front of them resulted in their greatest growth opportunities creatively, personally, and spiritually.
I could go on about how they completely repurposed the space or the art being produced in every nook and cranny of the building. They even had a breakout session entitled The Theology of Space (using space to communicate what you want people to experience together). Beyond all that was a prevailing message of hope, why we as artists need hope, what it means to create from a place of hope, and communicating what life looks like from where we sit as artists.
I came away with some clear applications.
1. Don’t wait for everyone to throw you a parade and give you permission to be who God uniquely created you to be. Embrace it. Celebrate it – and then live it!
2. If you are investing yourself in things that are killing you, stop it! Life is too unpredictably short to engage in things that are not bringing you life and allowing you to breathe life into those around you.
3. Ask! When you have an idea that needs to move to the next phase, ask! It never hurts to reach out to those with whom you might like to partner that you might otherwise assume to be unreachable. Someone somewhere knows how to accomplish the next thing. Find them.
4. Don’t try to make “Christian” art. Make art that reflects what God has done in your reality. Reflect the times you’ve experienced hope and the times you experienced complete doubt and despair, even if it is in the present tense.
5. Don’t try to write as if you are the Holy Spirit. He already has a book. Write from your reality!
Sometimes we creative types just need a good dose of one another to grease the wheels of our crafts. This was such a week.