Photo credit: Lindsay McMullin. Used with permission.
After day 1 (Sept 29, 2016) of STORY conference ended, I was back at our AirBnB checking email when I got the shock of my life. Artfully Seeking had written to congratulate me on their acceptance of a piece I wrote a number of weeks ago and then submitted to their blog. This is the first time I’ve taken the risk to submit something, and they said yes! It was such a precious moment to receive that wonderful news after a day of listening to inspiring people remind me why I do this in the first place and why the risk of creating is oh so worth it—some of the very themes this piece touches on!
It was published to their blog in the evening on October 1. Interspersed throughout was photography by Lindsay McMullin. My first glimpse of the published post was in my email, actually; I follow the blog through WordPress, so I received an email notification of it. The photos they used and how they formatted my words were all so beautiful that I actually busted into tears. This piece is my heart, and they made it so visually beautiful. I was truly overwhelmed!
Later, when I was sharing the article on my social media accounts, I noticed that the thumbnail image showed a little hand-sewn sampler that said, “I am Beyoncé always.” Hopefully, you noticed it too. It is actually significant, which is why I asked permission to use it as the featured image for this post.
You see, during the very first presentation that kicked off the entire STORY conference, Brad Montague, creator of Kid President, shared a story with us about when Beyoncé was interviewed on the show. He said when the interview was over, she looked over to him and asked rather meekly, “Was that all right? Did I do all right? I can do it again.” He then talked about how flabbergasted he was, how in his mind (not out loud, mind you), he was like, “What?! You’re BEYONCE for crying out loud! What do you mean did you do all right? You’re Beyoncé!!” He used that story to make a point about our motivations for creating: many times we unconsciously seek validation through our creations, as though what we make can somehow make us when the truth is the complete reverse. He ended by saying, “Your life isn’t about making a work of art; your life IS a work of art.” He ended his presentation by sharing a poem he wrote called “Don’t Hide Your Magic” and then bowed off stage shouting, “YOU ARE ALL BEYONCE! NOW GO MAKE STUFF!”
That day was bookended by Montague’s words at its beginning and Artfully Seeking’s validation at its conclusion. I would have posted “Writing Faith” here on my blog anyway, even if Artfully Seeking had not accepted it, because I love it. It is my truth, my magic, on paper, and I love that. But the collision of its acceptance with the reminder that I am not validated by my art was profoundly significant because I still struggle to believe that I am a writer. On any other day, I might have looked to this acceptance as the source of my belief about myself and my art, but Pops saved me from that and I’m so grateful! I often wonder if anyone will really ever want to read what I write, but this piece reminds me that I write for myself, because that’s what’s in me to do and I can’t NOT do it. Pops reminded me that day that I am significant and I am a writer because He has declared those things to be true about me. My art is significant because I am and because the God who put it in me is, not because of how many people read it.
I’m thankful for the validation from Artfully Seeking, and I’m humbled by the responses “Writing Faith” has received. But I will keep writing, not for the attention, but because when I write, as Eric Liddell said, “I feel His pleasure.”
The Bible tells us that the righteous live by faith, not by sight, but that is easier said than done; after all, it’s easier to trust what we can see than what we cannot. Some reference this verse as basis for the claim that faith is blind, but it isn’t! Living by faith, doesn’t mean we close our eyes and minds to what we are able to see and comprehend; it simply means that in addition to acknowledging the visible, we also believe there is more beyond it and choose to live for and according to that larger reality.
But the truth is that even what we can see isn’t always trustworthy, mainly because we don’t see everything. Sometimes things stay hidden for a while—or forever—and other times we just stop seeing. We can be looking at a deeper truth—be in a face-to-face stare-down with something previously hidden but now…
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