I used to be afraid of writing because I thought I wasn’t smart enough. I thought that whatever I wrote down would be incorrect, and I was afraid of judgment and the revelation that I am, in fact, an idiot. But then I realized I wasn’t setting out to write a textbook. I’m not writing a book of facts; I am attempting to write a story. The beautiful thing about a story is there are differing perspectives and interpretations, but no one ever says it is wrong. A story is just a story, it is qualitative not quantitative.
Then I was faced with the fear that my story had no value. Why would anyone care? I am an otherwise normal, middle-class white girl with no tragedy to speak of. Nothing to see here. But as I’ve been struggling with what I feel is a call to write, I have come to realize that to be human is to have and share our story. We are each responsible to share our story, which is to say, an expression of our truest selves, in some way.
The revelation came to a head the other night as I was watching The Voice. There are plenty of people who can sing well, but the coaches pick those who offer pieces of themselves while singing. These are the true artists. To be an artist is to learn how to share our very selves. We find some way to express who we are transparently, freely, and beautifully.
We do have this responsibility to share ourselves with others because that is the gospel. The gospel asks us to give our lives in return for a life that was given for us. Our culture likes to think in black and white about what it looks like to live the gospel. That looks like going to church, and it looks like volunteering for youth ministry, and it looks like serving in a soup kitchen. And yes, it can look like that. But it is not limited to those clearly defined and culturally recognizable forms; the beautiful, visible expressions of our inner selves counts, too.
Pope John Paul II wrote in his Letter to Artists, “Every genuine art form in its own way is a path to the inmost reality of man and of the world. It is therefore a wholly valid approach to the realm of faith, which gives human experience its ultimate meaning. That is why the Gospel fullness of truth was bound from the beginning to stir the interest of artists, who by their very nature are alert to every ‘epiphany’ of the inner beauty of things.”
He goes on to say that artists are performing a social service when they are faithful to their inspiration, and he exhorts artists to be faithful to the perceived call to create beautiful things.
God designed our lives to be interdependent with Him and each other. We are called to be interdependent in our material lives as well as our spiritual and emotional and intellectual lives. Interdependency requires giving of ourselves and receiving from others. We have to share what we have and who we are, material or otherwise. If you have too much money, give it away – someone needs it. If you have experience, find a way to share that wisdom. If you have something inside you, create something beautiful. Find a way to share your story, yourself.