whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

I want my crayons back June 28, 2010

So lately I have had this indescribable desire to be creative. I am a creative person (all people are in some way or another) but there are certain things I am not so great at, like painting. But even in college I would get a coloring book and crayons now and then, especially around finals!

Recently with my Mosaic ladies we had a creativity workshop led by two lovely, beautiful, and insanely creative friends, Lisa and Trae. They pointed out how our Creator God empowered us with the ability to create. Trae read a quote out of a book that really hit me. Basically it said that whenever we get restless and bored with life, it may be our inner Kindergartener saying we want our crayons back. We want to be encouraged and empowered to create, like we were when we were kids. Why did we ever stop being taught to imagine?

It’s interesting. I used to love to write stories. Even from a very young age, Anne of Green Gables was a hero of mine for many reasons, but mainly because she wrote stories and was a teacher. When I was in elementary school, I would write these crazy tales about my hamster’s secret nightlife. After my family and I were in bed, she would go on adventures to the animal mall, and she had fabulous accessories she’d don before heading out. And of course the stories were illustrated.

I can’t tell you how many ‘books’ I wrote as a young teenager. Spiral notebooks were my constant companion. Admittedly, many of my tales were more like retellings of whatever Babysitters Club Super Special I’d read most recently, only cast with my friends and me and slight adjustments to the plot. But I still had a great time writing them. I never finished them, though.

Then came high school AP English. Four years of it. By the time I graduated my desire to write had all but disappeared. I would write poetry here and there, especially when I was depressed, but no more stories. No more hamster escapades. No more outrageous summer vacations for me and my friends. No more hours wiled away with daydreaming and imagining and pretending to be Anne Shirley. The creativity in that area had been sucked away. Wilted like a flower long neglected.

So. I’ve been rediscovering this passion for stories. I don’t know where it will take me. I guess I’ll let you know. I read so very little fiction (only about 3 or 4 writers). But more and more I have learned that fiction is almost truer than nonfiction, if that makes any sense. There are things you can say and do with a “fiction” story that communicate more truth than any “nonfiction” way of writing ever could.

I’m finding other creative outlets as well. It kills me that I don’t have enough time or energy to do musicals right now, but I will return to that stage. I’ve nurtured a growing interest in fashion design ever since Project Runway season 1 aired (and I’ve watched every episode since) and am hoping to learn how to thread my sewing machine soon. I’ve become my own (quite amateur) makeup artist over the years, and recently fell in love with the book Making Faces. I learned to decorate cakes when I was a manager at Cold Stone, and am getting to take a fondant class in a couple of weeks. I started scrapbooking at least a year ago (and true to form have not yet finished even one album).

I keep uncovering all these reminders of my fleeting attempts at different creative endeavors, and fight the temptation to get down on myself for not finishing or excelling at any of it. But my how fun it all has been.

I think I got a couple of my crayons back.

 

Culture Chameleon? June 2, 2010

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
(1 Cor. 9:19-23, The Message)

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Paul sought to be “all things to all people” so that he could build relationships with them and hope that they might trust Jesus. I particularly like the way Peterson paraphrased it in The Message (see above). Even though Paul had the freedom to do whatever he felt was necessary, Paul modified his behavior so as not to offend the people he was with. When he was with the Jews, he wouldn’t go eating a big slice of ham, even though he had the freedom to do so. When he was with the Gentiles, he wouldn’t berate them for not being circumcised and expect them to be like him.

So was Paul a “culture chameleon,” changing his stripes depending on who he was with? Weren’t we told in youth group that this was a bad thing? Haven’t we always been told that we should stand out and be different and not look like the world? Aren’t we supposed to be pointing out the errors of the world and making a difference?

I think this is really a “both/and” kind of thing. Balance is a beautiful thing, is it not?

We have to live our lives in obedience to what God has asked of us. Each follower of Christ has a special calling on his or her life, certain groups of people that he or she will be most effective among, and personality traits and talents that will support him or her in those particular endeavors. None of us is just like another. Generally speaking, we will have the same message but a myriad of ways of conveying it. My unique voice and point of view will resonate with people that perhaps yours won’t.

At the same time, however, that doesn’t mean that I can be a total jerk to certain groups of people (followers of Christ or not) that I don’t particularly like or agree with. It doesn’t mean I can come down on you for hanging out with them. It doesn’t mean that I pass judgment on you and question your every word and move if you have felt called to love that group of people. I have to trust God enough to let Him be the Holy Spirit to you and not try to take that role myself.

“But what will people think of me if I hang out with (insert group of people here)? Won’t they think I’m one of them?” Well, maybe. Jesus got called all sorts of things and people thought all kinds of incorrect things about Him simply based on who He spent time with. So yeah, people (even other Christ-followers) may label you something you aren’t. They might assume you’re “sinning” right along with the group of people you’re trying to love. But their opinions really can’t stop you. Not if you are following God’s call on your life to reach them.

Besides, you’re not going to be taking on their way of life; you’re going to “keep your bearings in Christ.” The point is, you will be entering their world to “experience things from their point of view.” You’re going to attempt to see things the way they do. You’re going to try to empathize with their feelings. You’re going to try to figure out what motivates them, what hurts them, what offends them, what makes them joyful. You’re going to spend a lot of time with them in order to reach this goal. And in the process, you will have earned the right to be heard. They just might actually believe you when you tell them you love them, and that Jesus does, too.

At the same time, you’ll need to remember that not everybody is going to understand what the heck you’re doing. You’ll need to find your self-esteem in God and not people’s approval. You’ll also need to deal gently with the people who misunderstand you, and be aware that there may be certain things like particular actions or phrases that are offensive to them. Know your audience as best you can, and do everything you can to live peaceably with all people (Romans 12:18).

Wow. This is a tough balance. Be true to who you are and your mission in Christ AND at the same time be mindful of who you’re with? Stay true to your calling, not walking on eggshells around those who judge you WHILE still being sensitive to them? Definitely an ongoing, developing balance that only the Holy Spirit can bring to a person’s life.

So. Maybe being a “culture chameleon” isn’t such a bad thing. Some people call the art of knowing how to communicate truth without being offensive tact. Most of us could probably stand to have a little more of it. Maybe we could get so good at it we could even be accused of “speaking the truth in love.”