After my melancholy-laden last post, I feel better today. Thanks for asking, 🙂 But I have to tell a (semi) funny story, and then I’ll ramble a bit more.
Right after I hit “publish” on the last post, a friend of mine in the coffee shop where I was blogging came and sat with me to chat. He knows a bit of my story, and since the stuff I’d written was fresh on my mind, I began to relate to him what I’d been thinking about–about feeling exiled from the institutional church and the platform of corporate worship, and missing those moments of God’s presence, and feeling like I don’t fit anywhere right now, blah blah blah….
I immediately regretted it. ‘Cause guess what he did…
Go on. Guess.
Need a hint? He’s a Christian.
He invited me to his church.
It was awkward, but I wasn’t offended. I completely understand (and momentarily forgot) that as churchgoing Christians, we carry a certain amount of loyalty to the community we identify with, and we’re usually going there because we think that church has the answer. We are also innately conditioned to hone in on people who are hurting, and seize the moment to invite them into our community. I get it. Been on the other side of that interaction many times. This guy is a true friend, and he meant well, but all it really did was make me feel more isolated because I knew his filters were in place, and he didn’t really “get” what I was saying. I know of his congregation, and I’ve heard good things, I know the intentions are great…but I don’t believe his institutional church has the answer for me anymore than any other institutional church does. The foundational issue is still there: institution. Pretty sure that’s going to get in the way every time.
So I nodded, said I’d think about it (which I have), and we haven’t mentioned it since.
I wish I could say that was the end of my looking backward, but it wasn’t. Off and on through this week, I’ve pondered the past, thing I liked and miss, things I didn’t like and don’t miss at all, and so on. It’s kind of popular to say things like “never look back,” but I don’t necessarily agree that this is a Biblical thing. Not everything is a Lot’s wife scenario, and remembrances of the good things God has done is actually quite Biblical. (Remember Passover?) In my situation, I think part of why I’ve been looking back lately is because I’m really pondering how to move forward, and looking back gives me a sense of context apart from the day-to-day grind. Last week’s post, I think, was early in the process. And now I’m sort of transitioning into looking at what’s ahead–which is why I think I feel better.
As this year comes to a close, I’m really seeking God about direction for the upcoming year. Nothing specific yet, but there’s one thing we’ve noticed that we’re now sort of honing in on.
As The Wild One has been working on her art, and is now selling her work online, we’re getting some interesting responses from people who are interacting with her. I think I mentioned a few blog posts ago that there’s an unintended-but-natural spiritual dimension to her paintings that apparently really speaks to the people who are watching and buying her work. She’s also maintaining a blog of her own that is tied to her website, and she often tells the story behind paintings she makes available for sale, and she ties it in with her ongoing story of emerging as an artist later in life, and how she came to be a painter. This is also being met with a positive response. Of particular interest is the number of people that are writing her and saying, “I always wanted to be an artist, but this or that stopped me (or I was an artist and quit), and your story is really inspiring me to be creative again.” This has happened at some level numerous times.
I’ve also noticed that within my own creative circles, especially music, people are intrigued when I share any part of our creative journey. It fascinates them that we are a family of right-brained, creative people, and how we moved to Denver to pursue our various artistic dreams together, and even how we team up and back each other up on different projects (like the film, for instance).
All this is leading us to a strong conviction that one way or another, our story needs to be told. Our story seems to speak to people.
This here blog has been all about the spiritual part of my story, and how it relates to the church. But the story is bigger than that, and there are elements of it that will speak to more people than just Christians who feel similarly about the church as I do. This is what I’m praying on right now. I think we need to expand the platform upon which our story is being told.
So yes, more likely than not, within the next couple of months, there will be another blog, specifically geared to creatives. There may be some other related projects, too, geared toward gathering and encouraging creative people.
One thing to note while I’m on this train of thought. Interestingly enough, this stirring is remarkably similar to the stirring that first prompted us to start a church in Tulsa all those years ago. Our whole idea back then was to build a community that would encourage creativity in the context of worship, and our whole approach was geared toward right-brained people. I actually felt a bit guilty in the process when someone who was more logical/analytical/left-brained came around, because I felt like they would feel left out, and though I always tried to make them feel included nevertheless. But in my heart, I was always striving for a community that favored the arts.
My theory is this–and right now, it’s just a theory–maybe institutional church wasn’t exactly the right context for what was in our hearts. Maybe it was too small a vehicle, or just the wrong vehicle. But being so church-minded at the time, that was the only vehicle we knew and understood.
And maybe that’s why, for us at least, that mindset needed to be broken off.
It’s just a thought. One thought of many. I’ll keep you posted.