Jesus said, "In the same way, your light must shine before others so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly father" (Mt. 5:16).
So, lately I've really been struggling with something. (What's new, huh?) I have been feeling very strongly that something was trying to tell me that I'm not putting "it" out there enough that I'm a Christian, or that I love Jesus, or that I give all the credit to Him. There have been two incidences in particular which struck me as potential wake up calls, followed by a giant slap in the face this past weekend. First of all, right after I started Artsy Mamas, a lady who had led the Excellent Wife class that I took a year and a half ago and with whom I'd kept in touch, sent me an email that basically said, "Well, that's great and all but what are you doing to give back to Him? How are you glorifying God through all of this?" At first my tails ruffled a bit. I mean, I'm of the opinion that I do everything with the purpose of glorifying God. But maybe I wasn't doing it enough. Or deliberately enough. And, once I stopped to think, and received a little therapy, I realized that I was very focused on gaining fame and notoriety, although I didn't see it at the time. In hindsight, I now know that I wasn't just trying to become famous. I have since learned that my constant need for more and more publicity was actually fulfilling one of my OCD issues and each time I'd see Artsy Mamas in print somewhere, or I'd get an email from another new member, I'd get a fix. Much like people who are addicted to washing their hands or counting light poles. Thank GOD I am over that obsession and I can just sit back and enjoy this lovely journey upon which my life has taken me! At any rate, I was a little taken aback from her note. Honestly, I don't feel that I leave God out of things and I'm pretty vocal about how much I love Jesus and how amazing my God has been to me throughout this whole ordeal. Wasn't I? So, then, I'm chatting with an old friend from high school at the aforementioned (previous post) gathering in my hometown during the holidays. I'm telling him about my one woman show and I'm giving him the short and sweet version of what this "thing" was all about (which is rather difficult considering it's a complicated, multi-faceted piece of work that , thus far, can best be described as my having vomited out all of my raw emotions out over a bunch of double-space typed pages. Great.). I'm describing it without getting too detailed and he basically says, "That's cool. How are you going to work Him into it?" I stare blankly back at him. What did he mean? "You know, Christ?" I'm dumbfounded. I'd not thought of that. Of course, I gave God any credit for the show and any possible success it might ever enjoy, assuming anyone ever read it, saw it, or, gasp, liked it. But I'd completely and totally missed this perfect opportunity to use my work as a testimony for my religion. I mean, it's an incredibly spiritual piece. Everything about it is spiritual. But I never come right out and say anything about Jesus. It's not ABOUT that. But shouldn't it be?
So, as I worked on the rest of the piece, I really struggled with finding that perfect spot in which I could throw in a nice hand raise and a "Thank ya Jesus". That perfect spot, artistically, just didn't seem to be there. There I am, left divided between using an opportunity to testify about my love of Christ and sticking to the natural, artistic flow within my writing boundaries. What to do?
And then this past weekend, I'm sitting at World Outreach Church, completely and totally enthralled by Pastor Allen and his message of Entering 2008 unafraid and being one of those people who makes a difference. I remember thinking that, wow, for once in my life, I could honestly say that I was making a difference. And then this panic rose inside of me. If I'm making a difference, that is great and all. But who am I to take any credit for any of the amazing things that Artsy Mamas has been able to accomplish? After all, I'm nothing more than a child of God, answering his call and fulfilling my duty as a Christian. Right? So, what the heck have I done? Suddenly, I found myself contemplating how I might be able to work in my testimony of how I came to Christ and was baptized onto the homepage.
Yesterday a new friend came over to share some things with me. We were enjoying a cup of tea and my funny, sweet little girl, when we began talking about this very subject, give or take, ya know? I don't recall the entire conversation verbatim (what with my poor night's rest, my blood sugar headache, and my sore bottom... darn chair) but basically she described her impression of me and she told me that she knew, from the moment she met me, that I was a Christian. She explained that she could just see God's light in me and in Artsy Mamas and in what I do. She talked about how I often say, "Praise the Lord" or "Hallelujah!". I say that? Cool. God's light shines through me and that is enough.
Sigh. What a relief. Here I was stressing over all of this for many many months. And I was doing alright all along. I felt so unsure of how much was too much. The last thing I want is for anyone to think of Artsy Mamas as a Christian organization. Not that it's a bad thing but the truth is that there are non-Christians involved and I'm thrilled about that. And I also cringe at the thought of this being MY organization. Artsy Mamas belongs to all of us... I'm just the person who puts the most blood, sweat and tears into it (but, to be fair, reaps the most physical and spiritual benefits, no doubt). I would never want to put so much Jesus into the organization that I run people off, box us in, or make new moms too uncomfortable to join us.
My conclusion? I don't have to carry around a sign with John 3:16 written on it in order to show that I'm a Christian. If I'm truly "in Christ" then He will be in me and the Holy Spirit will simply shine through me as I go about doing my work. And I will reach more people that way than if I was in their faces, thumping Bibles and yelling about being saved. And just because the Artsy Mamas mission statement doesn't say a word about Jesus, it's all about Jesus. Because what's more Christ-like than helping mothers improve their self-esteem and building them up by teaching them about creativity, and thus, letting their creativity shine. Finally, I believe that my greatest testimony is not that of the night I felt frightened into having my father-in-law baptise me. It's the one of how I decided to start living authentically... how I chose to start using the gifts and talents that our Heavenly Father gave to me, decided to stop being angry and bitter towards those who have wronged me (and continue to wrong me) and instead pray for them and send them light and love, and realized that I am no less than the greatest man who ever walked the planet and that I'm capable of brilliant and amazing things too. For I, just like you and everyone else on this planet, was made in His likeness and we are, therefore, all capable of creating a masterpiece. What is your's going to be?
I am so humbled and thankful to be one of His chosen ones. I am so humbled and thankful to be the leader of Artsy Mamas, the hippest, most fun, most amazing mom's organization this city (at least!) has ever seen. And I'm so thankful that God sent His son to die on the cross so that I might have eternal life... and light.