Challenge to the Artist

As cliche as it sounds, the older I get, the less I know. Often times, I believe the beauty of being young & free covers up its wrinkles with makeup formulated by practicality. However, in my life, every day is opposite day. The older I get, the less practical I want to be. The more I mature, the more adventure I desire. As a creative person, the more years added to my life only convince me I should live farther outside the box than I ever have before. Rather than conforming to a certain way of doing things, I’ve found that very much unlike many of my friends, I want to break the mold of acquiescence. Am I living out The Curious Case of Benjamin Button? Quite possibly.

A few weeks ago, I attended a concert. This is not something out of the ordinary, as you very well know. In fact, I’m a bit of a concert junkie. This particular show was headlined by a band by the name of Gungor. My good friend plays drums for the band, so I really went in hopes to visit with him. I knew a couple of the band’s songs, but never really took the time to jump on the bandwagon regarding their music. To shorten this part of the story, I can only say I was in awe. All of my senses, both natural and spiritual, were overwhelmed. I wondered if heaven would feel something like that moment.

This band did something different. After a later conversation with Lisa Gungor, I would find out how.

My friend Terrance encouraged me to talk with Lisa after the show. Nearly in tears, I approached her and simply thanked her for sharing their art. She began to tell me the story of how they arrived at this place of freedom, now able to confidently contribute the music they felt they needed to. Two worlds tried to mold them, and neither allowed the genuine liberty to speak their heart. Giving voice to a tumult of feelings I endured for years, Lisa said, “We felt like we didn’t belong anywhere.”

I believe this to be a battle for many artists, especially those who ascribe to a relationship with Jesus. Being quite honest, many Christian artists just play it safe. And if you try to get outside of your box, you are often rejected. But then the secular side picks you up and tries to turn you into something you don’t want to be either. Michael and Lisa Gungor knew who they were and took a chance to step away from both sides of the market and do something different. I may not be the expert in this area, but I think it moves the heart of God.

It’s not so much about being different: more importantly it’s about being honest.

C.S. Lewis put it this way:

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

In my own art, I became lost in what everyone else said I needed to do. I believe this was birthed from a place of not even knowing who I really was as a child of God, let alone an artist. I was given a voice the church isn’t used to, but a passion I can’t find a way to fill with the world. I, too, don’t belong anywhere. I refuse to be a Christian artist that creates safely. I also refuse to be molded by the winds of morphing worldly popularity. If I am the child of the Creator of the universe, should I not be challenged to be radically creative? Have you seen the crazy stuff he made? It’s awesome! Apart from God, I am nothing…apart from God, my art is pointless.

Only when I embrace my position as a child of God, loved without condition, blessed with every spiritual blessing, can I create without boundaries. If I deny the world (be it secular or “Christian”) the right to define my art and simply allow it to flow freely from this place of love, then will I be truly creative. I must first be honest with who I am so I can be honest with what I do.

Artists, I leave you with a challenge I gave to myself after the conversation with Lisa Gungor:

I want to be honest in everything that I do. Maybe it’s simply from that place of unadulterated truth that I will find the color with which I paint this blank canvas.

Discover. Love. Create.

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