A few thoughts on communication and writing. I think about this a lot because I am a song writer. There are a million ways perhaps to communicate one message, or one type of message I guess. That being said, I often, as do most other artists, compare myself to all the artists I love the most, all the artist that are doing well, and even the people I don’t like to listen to or don’t think are great. Comparison is an unfortunate fall of mankind if not stewarded and worked through from a biblical perspective.
What does I mean? God says that we were/are made in his image. I love that so much. God loves His last work of creation so much that He formed us after Himself. He wanted us to look at Him, compare ourselves to Him, and then become more like Him. He doesn’t say, “I made you like each other, so conform to the people around you that you like.” He says, “You are mine, you are like me, I made you for me, come follow after my image. I am the definition of what you should be.”
Then why do we struggle so much with self image? By the way, this is not a call to try and figure out what Jesus looked like, i.e. beard, clean shaven, long hair, short hair, etc. Gods’ word tells us that we are made in the image and likeness of Him. Notice how He doesn’t reveal His physical nature to anyone except Moses, and even then it was His back. God never intended for us to be concerned with how we look in comparison to anyone else. It says in the bible, “I knew you before you were.” He was crafting a vision for what we would look like before we even came. He spent time thinking about us. He LOVES who you are TODAY. Not how you will look after exercise, after plastic surgery, etc. That’s an amazing revelation to me. That knowledge frees you up to enjoy who you are without the let down of worldly ideas and standards that are practically impossible to attain.
What He is referring to though is your character. The actions that you take, the way you talk to people, the way you love them, the way that you guide them, and the way that you live with them.
Now, going back to my original point. I often spend so much time comparing myself to others, whether intentionally or not. I often don’t introduce my new songs to people because of the fear I feel involved with spreading wide and bearing wide your innards. Yes your innards. All of it, which is what song writing is. The express bearing of your innards in hopes that someone will connect with you in a deep and meaningful way. They will share in your journey of life, faith, pain, sadness, happiness, joy, and often loss.
I had this realization in Cambodia. We were singing songs during our Sunday service. They weren’t always projected correctly in English. I wondered if that was on purpose or just an accident. But it didn’t matter to me really. Often it was the original meaning of the text broken down into simpler words and phrases that could be more easily discerned by the simplest of English speakers. That got me thinking about worship. We so often take the simple and powerful word of God and “translate” it into our own flowery language in hopes of repackaging it in a more interesting way. Again, lack of faith in the creation from God and the word of God leads us away from the original form of creation into our own versions of what it should be, or what we think others would like it to be.
*Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and I love language. This conversation, and I hope it’s a conversation, is more for the sake of discussing this idea rather than pulling the creative rug out from under anyone*
But back to my point. In western culture we have a tendency to view anything that is presented in an very simple way as watered down. As if truths no longer take place in concisely clean ways anymore.
I say this because I started to notice my calling a little bit more as I thought through all these things. I certainly have spent more than my fair share of time working on rhyme schemes and trying to find my way into Jon Foreman type illustrations and illusions, but that’s just not me. I LOVE them. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Jon Foreman is perhaps my favorite lyricist of this generation, but that’s just not me. I was not called to be that. God often grants me beautifully simple glimpses of His Word and Spirit filled text to help assign melody to in order to create a song. There are no long difficult “translation” processes. It’s Gods word set to music for the simple yet important goal of communicating Gods’ wonderful word to people. To communicate the Good News of the gospel is nothing to sneeze at.
I learned something about me in Cambodia, about my writing, about my audience, and about my life’s calling. To communicate His word in the way that He designed me to be able to communicate it. I’ll leave the complicated illusions and illustrations to Jon. And I’m ok with that, today. Tomorrow I’ll work through this all over again when I sit down to write, I know I will.
But I want you to feel free to understand your calling, your purpose, and your format. Don’t be ashamed of it. God designed you to communicate HIS story in your own personal and perfect way. Remember, He made you just the way you are supposed to be… directly from His image. Don’t ever doubt that you aren’t going in the right direction when you follow His call on your life. Trust that you are exactly the vehicle He made you to be.