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Sometimes panic grips me like a dark stranger, pulling me thrashing around a forgotten corner.  It muddies my mind and smothers my tongue.  It only can render me speechless in the midst of an undertow of thought, dizzying and heavy and murderous, thought that pins me like a stuck moth to what holds me.

But sometimes, most of the time, it’s as quiet as breathing. This fear manifests itself as comparison, as apathy, as business, as excuse.

This artist’s greatest foes are fear and self: fear of trying and of failure, particularly with people watching, especially when something is at stake.  Fear of time-wasting, of comparison and inferiority, of pride and self-centeredness, of wallowing in the hidden regions of my mind, flirting with darkness, keeping secrets.  I worry that to delve into the parts of me that ache to create will involve pain, and that I will stay there, undoing my slow and difficult journey toward trusting Jesus with my heart and identity and future.

Identity.  Aren’t I over that by now?  Such an adolescent word has no place here, I think. I tell it to move on over but I feel its pressure as plainly as my pulse.

Creatively, I have this idea — I’d call it silly but that I believe it so deeply — that if I am to create as a Christian, I must always do so out of joy and abundance and peace.  That I can no longer claim ignorance in searching for meaning, because meaning is prescribed to me: “My identity is in Christ.”  It’s a cleanly packaged Christian phrase I hear and read often, and I agree with it wholeheartedly.  Ultimately my identity IS found in Christ.  I no longer live separately from my creator; the meaning of my life is the sum of His.  “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” His word says.  Hallelujah.  But when I read the rest of the verse, “the old has gone and the new has come,” I admit I am bewildered.

What happens to my old self?  The parts of me that don’t just get thrown away and replaced, but that begin to form into a Christ-likeness that still retains a shadow of the purposeful creation that is Brynna?

I am sure that I was created to create; I strongly believe that is an indispensable part of being created in His image. But I’m still working out what that really looks like on a daily basis. I am pursued and surrounded by the thought that my creation must be clean and happy and nice, and it often leaves me bound up and conceding defeat.

Joy, you see, is a troublesome thing that I can’t easily reconcile with my creative process.  Training myself away from despair-driven creation has not, thus far, been fruitful for me; I just feel dull, empty, bland — and safe. Too safe, too comfortable, and above all not myself.  Can it really be that my only exploration of the dark, messy, and imperfect is a means to expose its flaws, to point to the Light?  Or is there truth in ruin that is not present in the neat and tidy?

I do not wish to glamorize evil; I only wish not to fear what is true.  To untangle a knot, you don’t pull at either end of a string.  You prod the middle, picking strands until the mass loosens.  All of humanity is caught in a mess called sin that takes a little swimming around in to get out of.

More thoughts on this to follow.


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  • Laura

    Beautiful. Such a way with words…

  • brynna

    Thank you, Laura. <3

  • Aleasha

    Very powerful! Thank you for providing the words to identify the issues that many of us would otherwise gloss over in the day to day life.

    • brynna

      Thank you Aleasha!

  • Mandy

    What great questions to be asking. Reminds me of similar questions I ask:

    Based on your post, I think you’d really like the novel My Name is Asher Lev. Have you read it?

    • brynna

      I have not read it — but it’s on my list and I’ll bump it to the top. Fantastic quotes in your post. It’s so interesting how people (including myself) seem unwilling to give up their darkness, and even more fascinating how some of the people mentioned are atheists. I’d like to look into more Christian perspectives on this topic – I’d guess there are many, but it’s a topic people are squirmy about.

  • Karen

    Deep thoughts. I think it’s the NOW and the NOT YET. “The old has gone, the new has come”, yes, in the same way that “He has perfected for all time those who are BEING sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14) It is a working out of what is a sure end result because Jesus said, “It is finished.”

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