On Faith and Writing. Well, mostly writing. I mean, mostly Faith.
February 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
I am a Person of Faith.
I am also a Writer.
I like to call myself a Person of Faith, because “Christian” has such terrible and atrocious stereotypes attached to it that I am scorned and ridiculed when I identify myself as one. Actually, if I call myself a Person of Faith I’m pretty sure the same exact thing will happen, but at least it’s a lot more specific.
Lately, I have become quite peeved at every single Christian woman that has “influenced” me over the last 22 years, and probably unreasonably so, but my frustration remains constant.
I also want to preface what is about to come by saying that no, not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay. Not everyone feels the same way, and that’s okay. Not everyone has gone through the same circumstances, and that is awesome. These are purely MY frustrations about MY life and the people that I have met.
I have been subtly ridiculed and mocked throughout the course of my academic career for being a Christian in the fine arts world–and by that I mean, I totally identify myself with artists of all types be it painters, musicians, or writers. I have not been taken seriously by the secular world because of my “silly” and “outdated” religious beliefs. Yeah, I know it’s cool to be gay instead of straight, to have sex instead of abstain, to be an alcohol connoisseur instead of not touching the stuff ever, but sue me, because I really like being a heterosexual, white, straight edge female because I have something I believe in, even if you think it’s archaic.
But mostly, I’ve been misidentified in the Christian world as too “liberal” or “worldly” or as being heathen-ish because I like books about vampires and werewolves and I can read a book that drops the F bomb a million times and can still find the story appealing and because I dropped out of Bible school to go to a state university because I felt that I wasn’t being challenged enough academically. But sue me, because I really like reading (almost) everything I can get my hands on and studying under homosexual and alcoholic professors because for the first time I felt myself growing as a creative writer and student.
I think my entire point though is that I can be a Person of Faith and I can be a Writer and I can be both things at the same time without being a bad writer or a bad “Christian.”
The reason I’m peeved at all these Christian women in my life is because I had to figure this out on my own. I didn’t get any help (except from the dear old momsy of course, to whom I am forever grateful) from any woman in my life because according to them all I had to be Christian or I had to be a Writer–depending on what sphere of life they were on–but that I could not be Both. I have never been so utterly confused and desperate, at such low points, when trying to figure out where I fit in in this crazy world, believing that I had to either give up my faith or my one and only talent, and I wasn’t sure which one.
There was a time in college (yes it was the non-Bible college) that I found myself ready to give up my faith to be a writer. I was ready to ignore God because I knew I had a million stories to tell, and if I couldn’t do it with Him, then I would have to do it without Him.
Sounds melodramatic? I think you have to understand that I came into this world reading and writing and telling stories. I don’t know how not to write or immerse myself in someone else’s fictional story. Reading and writing to me is like breathing: if I go too long without it, I can feel myself suffocate. If I’m not reading or working on something, I find myself lost, and stumbling around this world like a blind man. I’m not a writer because I want to be, I’m a writer because I HAVE to be. It’s literally ingrained in me so that I can’t not do anything about it.
Sound weird? Think about it. It’s the same way those good Christians feel about God. That praying and calling out and reading the Bible is like breathing: if they go too long without it they suffocate, they become lost, misplaced. And the same way I feel like writing, I also feel about my relationship with God.
I was created by my Creator. And if I’m born to worship Him, if it is also ingrained in me so that I also can’t not simultaneously imagine characters and write lengthy novels about them, then how do I separate them? How do I not choose between faith and writing?
It’s taken me 22 years to figure this out, on my own, and no matter how frustrated I am with these women–and men, too–who have forced me into confusion thinking I had to choose, I have come to the realization that I DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE. I am Writer and I am Person of Faith. I am both without being neither. I stand on Faith the same way I stand on Literature. I can’t have one without the other.
Therefore, I will be celebrating the rest of this month by sharing my thoughts on how to be and stories on how I became a Writer and a Person of Faith.
To kick it off, please join the discussion on Frosted Lightly’s Facebook page about what it means to be an artist and/or a Person of Faith to you, the importance of one or both of these things, and thoughts on how you feel about culture and art in general.
And I think it’s quite appropriate to end this blog with a small paragraph from the book I am currently working on:
It was the way they stood apart, silent and unmoving, that made Betty Henderson pause in front of the kitchen window, mixing bowl in one hand, whisk in the other. She paused, looked out the window above her sink, and watched the two of them stand there while she absentmindedly continued whisking the contents in the bowl. She watched for a good twenty minutes before she decided it was definitely the most peculiar sight she’d ever seen—no one in their right mind would be outside in this heat. She decided it was certainly something she would investigate, and set to whisking so hard her upper forearm would surely be sore the next morning.
“It’s good,” Lillian said, in a voice low enough Betty wouldn’t have heard from across the street inside her house, no matter how keen her senses are. Lillian gave a slight nod, turned to the man standing beside her and said again, “It’s real good.”
James turned to look at her. He had been standing slightly behind her, off to the side, with his palms resting on the top of his head, but when Lillian had turned to him he let his arms fall to his sides and reached out for her hand. She took it in hers, giving it a subtle squeeze before walking o the cars parked and resting against the curb of the street.
It took all of the strength Betty could muster not to run out her front door and across the street to see if the couple needed any help moving in, but she stayed where she was, her back to the oven and her face still peeking out behind the sheer kitchen curtains while her pie baked.