Before we moved to Colorado, Adam and I directed a CYT production of the musical “Godspell”. It was, without a doubt, the most memorable show I’ve ever directed. I was going through a fairly good amount of inner turmoil at that time, and I was very close to backing out of the show before we started. I am so thankful I didn’t.
We were SO influenced by the 1996 revival (which we accidentally saw off-Broadway), we could hardly wait to get started. Little by little, we watched these kids bring the parables Jesus told to life, and I started to get a new understanding of why Jesus told these stories in the first place…
See, I’ve always been taught that every word in the Bible was true. Every word. Words like “prosperity” are just as true as “punishment”, whether we like it or not. Because of that, (I can’t believe I’m admitting this), I always thought the parables were stories of things Jesus actually saw or did or witnessed…I thought they were TRUE stories...
Why, yes, I do have blond hair, why do you ask?
It took working out the Book of Matthew on the stage before I realized they’re just stories.
I have to say, that while you’re probably laughing at me right now, the truth is, I wonder if God kept me from finding out the truth because of the impact it had on me as the realization set in. See, I’d just started writing seriously at that time. I’d gotten the contract, but I still didn’t really know WHY I felt called to write.
God had made it SO clear to me that this was what I was supposed to do…but why? To what end?
Often, in our society, those of us who are drawn to the arts…to the telling of a story either on stage or on page, we’re made to feel—for one reason or another—that this is a frivolous pursuit. Several times I’ve seen parents discourage kids from pursuing art, music, theatre, writing…because those aren’t “acceptable” careers. It is, after all, a tough way to make money and often filled with rejection. What parent wants that for their child?
So, in spite of the support I’ve always felt from my parents, I think there was this thing inside me that says “this is a ridiculous thing you do…”
Why would you want to tell stories/write books/make art/pursue music for a living? You're destined for poverty and what if no one likes your so-called "art"? What then???
Mostly, I can slap some duct tape over the mouth of that liar, but every now and then, it creeps in again…and I wonder Am I making a difference to anyone? Can telling stories make a difference?
So, in that (albeit humiliating) moment in 2009 when my husband gently told me that the parables were, indeed, stories, this wave of understanding mixed with gratitude washed over me…because finally, it made sense. Finally, I understood this pull to write, to create, to tell stories…
While I’m fully aware that my stories will never have the impact Jesus’ stories do, the bottom line is that I’ve got something in common with the Son of God. I’m a storyteller…and because of that, I believe, that there's a reason to keep going.
I'm living proof that sometimes people aren’t moved by preaching but they are moved by story. They’re moved because a story takes them out of themselves to walk in someone else’s shoes, to imagine a different way…and because of that, they have an experience. And it's much more difficult to shake an experience than it is a sermon.
No one’s told them how to live, what to change, why they should do something…they’ve done it for themselves. They’ve lived, they’ve changed, they’ve DONE…because they left their own body, ceased being who they always are and became someone else...
Isn't that what a great book does? Allows you to become the character? Isn't this why we love movies or plays? Because we get to experience first-hand the choices and challenges, the highs and lows, that the character is experiencing?
I guess it was eye-opening to realize that storytelling had its place even when Jesus walked the earth…that his stories still change lives, so it gives me a sliver of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could do the same. It may be a lofty ambition, but we all have to strive for something, right?
The parables were stories that inspires and motivated and taught...and they were hugely successful at exploring real life issues in the context of a hypothetical...so doesn't it stand to reason that God would value the art that tells a story even in 2012?
Doesn't it make sense then, that he's kept this medium around for a purpose? I think so.
It's not frivolous to express yourself through your art, whatever medium you choose. It is, in fact, the quickest way to reach someone's heart...