Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Is Imagination a Sin?

     When does imagination become a sin?

     This startling thought popped into my head a couple days ago and it has been resonating with me since then.
     Just to give you a bit of clarity, let me give you some background information about myself. I am an immensely imaginative person. Ever since I was a little girl I have always been enthralled with creating new worlds inside my head. I would read books and visualize the words in my head to where the characters and places were real to me. Sometimes I would go further and dream about who I would be if I was suddenly placed in the story. I was the ringleader and game-maker in my posy of siblings, always coming up with the next game we would play in the backyard. Sometimes we would be in Narnia along with the kings and queens and fantasy creatures, other times we were lonely orphans who had to live in the woods to survive without being caught by the evil orphanage owner, and then other times we would pick which animal we wanted to be and we would crawl around for hours in the red clay dirt living alligators or lions. I built fairy houses out of sticks, leaves, and moss for little fairies who needed places to stay. All of my little plastic animal figurines had complicated family trees and individual personalities. My childhood was a happy compilation of villains, heroes, and the damsels in distress.
     As I grew older, I didn't act upon my imagination through elaborate games as I once did. I would still daydream and create in my head, but my stories exhibited themselves through writing and movie making. Eventually, work and school dominated most of my free time and I was only left with my imagination inside my head.
     Now, having a vivid imagination is not a sin. The imagination itself is not an evil thing. In fact, my creative nature has help shape how I view the world and relationships. Pretend playtime prepared me for my present positions. The Lord gave certain people a fantastic mind so that we can create. It is a faction of Him that He puts into His human beings.
     Here's the problem. Now that I'm older I use my imagination to escape. I daydream and make up scenarios in my head that seem like they are out of a story. I come up with lovely circumstances that I would love to actually happen to me in real life. Stories of love, romance and perfect relationships cloud my mind throughout the day and into the night. This may seem like a pleasant pastime, but it can be a harmful hobby. The more I imagine how I think my life should be, the more disgruntled and disappointed I am with what reality really is.
     That's when imagination is a sin. When we love our own make-believe stories so much that we are miserable living the one that He gave us, we are sinning. We are putting something else before the Lord.
                                                                    He is the Author. 
                      We are just a most beloved character in His grand historical novel of life. 
      I know that I need to work on separating my imagination from my desires. It is fine to create. In fact, it is a gift that He has given me and is a part of my purpose. I just need to stop trying to write my own story and leave it up to Him.
 He has already written it anyway. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Smiling in the Shadows

     The play is announced! After weeks of waiting, the title of the college's next theater production is revealed! In nervous anticipation, you prepare for auditions that will surely be a little intense. Your friends and other theater comrades excitedly begin to pre-cast the characters in hushed tones so as not to upset anyone. The auditions go well and everyone says you did a great job! You can already imagine what it would be like to play a specific character, picturing what your costume would look like and how much stage time you would get. You tell yourself not to get too excited. After all, the director might pick someone else for the part that you so desire. Yet, there is always a secret hope that you will be the star.

     The cast list is posted, naming every character beside the actor's name.
     You press your finger on the newly printed sheet and slide it down until it lands on yours.                    Swiftly, you move it over to see the character that you get to portray.

Rebekah Runner                                                                           Extra

     Immediately, doubt and disappointment flood your mind. Stupid questions reenter your brain. Was I not good enough? Am I not as good of an actor as I thought? What's wrong with me? Were my friends lying to me the whole time when they said I was good? The director must not like me.

     Friends, every performer has felt the saddened shame of not being chosen to perform in the spotlight. This is a most recent reality for me. This has happened multiple times before, and each time it does I have to remind myself of the truth. I do theater because I enjoy it. I work hard because I work unto the Lord. God's plan for me is to have that specific part, even if it is just smiling in the shadows.

     This pertains not only to theater and on-stage performance. This relates to all of life. 
Sometimes your full potential can only be reached where no one can see it. 

     We complain that if we work "behind the scenes" no one will notice us. We won't receive the credit for a job well done. It's not worth putting in all the effort if it is not recognized.

     This is a lie! I have been given many jobs and put into many situations that seem dumb and trivial compared to the grand scheme of things. (My work study jobs on campus currently include putting computer paper into all the printers on campus and washing dishes on Saturday mornings.) I have been a greeter at a bookstore, a stage manager who turns on a fog machine, a fill-in player, an assistant to the assistant, and the silent listener. Most people view these as trivial jobs, but the Lord can give you an attitude of seeing it as a grand opportunity.

     Every small act of kindness or diligence in a trivial task can be used to the glory of God! 

     You have been placed in your position by the Lord Almighty, and He is the only one who can see the outcome of your faithfulness! He's got such a grand plan in store!

     So here's a challenge for you today. No matter where you are at in life (if you are a farm hand, an intern, an introverted friend, a dishwasher, an accompanist, a bench-warmer, or a background actor) be the best you can be for the glory of God! He can use you to your full potential no matter how small of a box you think you're in!