Sunday, July 27, 2014
When I started this blog I was unsure how I wanted to present myself.
Should I show the perpetual performer I've been all my life? That would be easy. Wish we’d caught some of my old “knock down drag outs” on tape from when I was little—where I would stand around a corner and someone (my other arm) would beat me down and drags me away. Had my family in stitches (not real ones)
Should I (can I?) display my Childlike (and kid-friendly) nature—the one that eschews many things my readers may enjoy, but I avoid... and that has always given me a pied-piper-ish quality? (Though I assure you I’ve only led the kids where their parents would approve, not to some magical cave outside the shire…cause that would be creepy). Showing that side would be fun but ultimately kind of shallow because there’s so much more to me
Should I (could I?) show the world, "I'm an Author now"? Not as easy when I felt less Authorly than in reality I am. To be an author I just have to have authored something... which I've done—several things really
Should I show the world the deeper side of me—including failings and shortcomings? That’s scary. I’m good at (possibly too good at) opening up and showing myself to people, as my mom used to say, warts and all. But… to share that way I have to go somewhere specific…
Should I show the world my faith? That's tricky. My faith is integral to my being, to my every breathing moment. But... to address this question I must show one of those shortcomings—maybe a few—the question of bringing up my faith here on my blog led to the solidly unpleasant question (solidly unpleasant in that it showed me how I’d let my faith flag) “Will that sell?"
Will that sell? Really? Is that the question? I thought my faith was integral to my being. Didn’t I just say that? I did. And I meant it. But…
The second shortcoming: I didn’t want to be branded a “Christian Author”. Look in a book store these days (other than a Christian book store) and there aren’t a lot of Christian authors on display. The Christian fiction section especially is soooo tiny—at least in the area where we live. I didn’t mind people knowing I was (am) a Christian, but as an author, as a brand… did I want to appear Christian?
Read my books and my faith comes through. I can’t say I shout about it with a megaphone—I eventually will in some of my writing—but like some of my writing heroes (Lewis and Tolkien among them—more like Lewis and less like Tolkien) my faith is there to see. So, why concern myself with being branded when I claim my life was (is) already branded by my faith? I didn’t know at the time, but now I recognize I was too concerned with producing the “Geno Allen Brand”—more concerned with that than I was in simply being Geno Allen.
I was also somewhat ashamed of my faith. I mentioned a few paragraphs back how I’d “let my faith flag”. I wish that meant I emblazoned it on a flag and waved it for all the world to see, but that’s not it. In my heart I still believed in God and in Jesus as his son, my savior—part of a triune God of mystery, majesty, and awe. But, if I felt compelled to tell someone something, it was probably going to be, “God loves you.” Which is true and if conversation started, I’d go a little deeper than that, but what I would shy away from at the outset is, “Jesus loves you.” And especially, “Jesus died for you to free you from sin.”
Let’s face it—I’d say to myself—this society is so jaded to the idea of Jesus Christ as anything other than a curse word that if I say his name, I’ll be shunned … … and I won’t be liked … … and … … and that won’t sell.
Did I think that exactly in those words? No. But I felt it… and I lived it. And, as I was trying to figure out how I wanted to present myself on this blog, I was forgetting myself, and Who I Really Want to Present.
My faith is integral to my being, to my every breathing moment. But saying that is utterly empty unless I say it this way. My faith in Jesus the Christ as God’s son and savior of the world—savior of all those who will accept his free gift of love and redemption from sin—that faith, that faith that is ingrained in my heart, imbedded in my heart and—thank God—recently re-unearthed… that faith is integral to my being and to my every breathing moment and frankly all the moments that will come after my breathing in this world ends.
The arrogance and audacity I’ve lived in for longer than I’d like to think, putting “Will it sell?” ahead of the God and Savior of the universe. Well… no more.
The performer in me will get to take the stage—because God made me a performer—but…
How do I want to present myself on my blog (or anywhere)?
I want to be my deep, child-like, silly, serious, awestruck, actorly, singerly, authorly, fatherly, husbandly, whimsically-minded, heavenly-minded, flawed, redeemed, earthly-minded, at times afraid, sometimes doubtful, always trusting (mostly—and I hope to get rid of the “mostly” at some point), comedic, theological, torn, broken, mend-able, future-focused, often funny, full of love, friendly, Christian self.
It has been almost two years of time spent in the bible in a way I have not spent before and time listening to some astounding Christian teachers and time hanging out and working out (read that as having my butt kicked—spiritually and physically) with my mentor that has brought me to this point where I’ve discovered how far from comfortable I’d become with expressing the love of Jesus.
But as I’ve spent time in the bible and discovered there more than I ever had before about the character of God, I find myself unwilling to ignore the Founder of my faith, and I cannot… nor should I… worry about whether or not it will sell. How mercenary a thought when speaking of my love for Jesus?
So… is this about to become a Christian blog? It already was one… just a poor and wavering Christian blog. Am I suddenly going to start putting a hundred over-the-top-Christian posts on a week? No. I wish I had the energy to put on a hundred posts a week (or maybe 4), but I don’t.
What this means is I’m no longer afraid to be myself. And that will make this a better place over all. If I have something profound that has impacted me, I’ll share it without concerning myself with who will or won’t appreciate it. I’m not being cavalier about that. I have no intention of intentionally offending.
Frankly, I pray none of it will offend, but the idea that we are sinners who need a savior is kinda offensive in and of itself. But that makes it no less true.
There’s a song that says, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” I’ve sung it. I meant it, but it wasn’t true. I wasn’t “ashamed of the gospel.” But adding in the heart of it, Jesus Christ, I was shy. I was afraid of being shamed. I was ashamed.
Jesus is my savior. He loves me—and you. Gave his life (and so much more than we can imagine) for me—and you. Has good plans for me—and you. No matter what it looks like.
Why I write the things I write…
I could and at some point may write something deep on this subject, but for now I want to share another author’s reason that so closely parallels my own that I’m unsure if I’ll need to write my own. (I’ll probably do it just to get it in my own words, but it’ll read very much like this.) This author is Andrew Peterson, author of the Wingfeather Saga which starts with the very funny book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. Which I’ve yet to finish, but I was struck and humbled when I read his “Note to Parents” on his website. There was one statement about playing music that wasn’t exactly true of me. So I removed it. Where I removed it you’ll see a – – – and anything I add will be in blue.
“So I wanted to let you know, in case you’re wary of these books, I’m not one of those writers churning out stories for money (not any more), or to push a political agenda, and I’m not writing fantasy just because I have a thing for swords and dragons, and I don’t want to corrupt your kids with shady philosophy or trick them into practicing witchcraft. I don’t want to expose them to words or situations I wouldn’t want my own children exposed to.
Here’s why I’m writing these books.
I bear the Maker’s image, and one of the ways that plays out is that I delight in making. I’ve loved to draw for as long as I can remember. – – – Ever since I was a kid I wanted to write stories. I love stories, and thrill to an imagination on fire. I sat down in front of the blank page and let my imagination run wild, did my best to tell a story I would want to be told. If a reader is willing to trust me with a little of his or her imagination, I want to light it up with truth, and beauty, and goodness.
I want you to know that I take my job as storyteller very, very seriously. I believe deeply in the power of Story. It has informed the way I live, my relationship with God, and, as crazy as it sounds, my understanding of the meaning of life (if I may speak in such grand terms).”
I have to say that bit about story informing my understanding of the meaning of life… that’s part of what has brought me to this post today. God’s story in which we live is amazing… and the protagonist isn’t me. It’s Jesus. So, for this post, I'm done talking about me.
Something profound that I really want to share, about Jesus.
Lastly I just want to share some links to a couple sermons—yes sermons—that have deeply impacted me. I will never hear Amazing Grace the same way again.
From C.J. Mahaney, a sermon called “The cry from the cross”
I highly recommend listening to a really good version of Amazing Grace immediately after. (if you know an astoundingly good version, let me know in the comments and I’ll add a link here)
Then move on to John Piper’s “The Triumph of the Gospel in the New Heavens and New Earth”
Thank you for walking this journey with me.