I have been writing for years now, on and off since i was in about 8th grade. Fortunately, the way I write has changed a little bit since then, but my heart and my motives are still mostly the same. I write because I love it, first of all. It makes me feel alive. But I also write because I want for people who are struggling with life and faith to know that they are not alone, and I want to show them a different kind of "christian author", the kind that is real and genuine, that doesn't have it all together, and that is honest about the fact that they say curse words when they stub their toe or get pulled over. I have dreamed about writing as a career for years, but it has only been in the past year or so that I have begun to believe that maybe I really should write, and this is because I just recently realized that what I say matters.
The other day I was driving to work when I randomly got a text from my friend Jamie. She wanted to tell me that she had been planning on getting a tattoo for the past year, but couldn't come up with what to get to symbolize what she wanted until she read my last blog post. She said that my thoughts on change and the seasons had given her the idea that getting a leaf tattoo would be the perfect way for her to symbolize what she had learned in the past year about change, and about life, how beauty is born out of death. She said that my post had "inspired" her. My mind was blown. Me? Inspiring someone? I write a lot, but it's more for my own sake than for anyone else. I mostly keep a blog to have a record of things I've written, so that if I ever apply to write for a magazine or newspaper, I'll have a "portfolio" of sorts that I can show them. Or so that if I try to write a book, I'll have some material to pull from. But when Jamie told me that she had gotten something out of what I had written, I realized, that what I say matters. No, it may not matter to you, and sometimes it doesn't really even feel like it matters to me. But to someone, it matters. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sometime, someone could get something out of what I say. It matters.
Shauna Niequist, who is currently tied with Don Miller for the title of my favorite Christian author, talks about this in her book, Bittersweet. She talks about art and creating, and people who create music, or write, or paint. She talks about a time when she made the mistake of asking the question "How many bands does the world need?" and how she regretted asking this question, b/c the thing about art is that it's not about market demand, it's not about what the world "needs". She said instead that "..it's more like a million voices all yelling out one word over and over, and every once in a while the sound makes the whole sit up straight and pay attention for a split second." And what she said that really grabbed my attention was this: "The general world population will survive without one more stage production and one more gallery showing. This is the thing though: you might not. We create because we were made to create, having been made in the image of God, whose fire role was Creator."
I love that, and I think it is true. The world will keep spinning if we quit creating what we love. People will keep waking up and going to work, and coming home at the end of the day to their spouses or wives or roommates or dogs. Most people will survive if you or I don't create, but someone may not. And most importantly, we ourselves may not. If you, like me, have been given a creative passion, then you need to create. You need to so that you'll feel alive, and you need to because people that do what they are passionate about are the people that end up changing the world, and we need more of them. And that is why what I say, and what you do, matters. Shauna ends the chapter by saying: "Get up. Create like you're training for a marathon, methodically, day by day. Learn your tricks, find a friend, leave the dirty dishes in the sink for a while. This is your chance to become what you believe deep in the secret heart you might be. You are an artist, a guide, a prophet. You are a story teller, a visionary, the Pied Piper himself. Do the work, learn the skills, and make art, because of what the act of creation will create in you."
So i'm going to keep writing, now with a motivation and passion that I haven't had before. Because now I know that what I say, matters.