It's a sunny day in Portland. A man in harem pants and a mesh see-through tank top passes me on the sidewalk. I silently wish I could be that nonchalant with my fashion choices. It’s not really about clothes, it’s about a longing I have for freedom.
I’ve lived an edited life.
I think I edit myself because I'm a people-pleaser. This isn't always the worst trait, but on bad days people-pleasing is destructive. Slowly, it's led me to career-related legalism where I've come to believe my job must look a certain way in order to be spiritually adequate.
I started recognizing this legalism when I got burned out on being Alison Brook; the middle-of-the-road Christian singer/songwriter who carefully toed the line between not making the older saints angry and trying to freely create. Many artists find the church only affirms their callings when the art is the churches definition of holy, forget trying to make anything that could be mistaken as "secular" art.
(PS. If you haven't already, I encourage you to read the blog preceding this one for context before you continue).
Eventually, all the editing became a poison that seeped into my creative well. I was starting to hate the very gift I'd been given to share.
But how gracious God was through it all! I was lucky to have a career in music, I had wonderful concerts, touching moments, and I met so many beautiful people. I can even say I made a positive impact on the world through art, despite it all.
However, though I treasured those joys, bowing down to a genre and public opinion created an unhappy and uninspired artist.
“Don't make for yourself any graven image." Could it be my graven image was a version of my career that fit the CCM genre? Could my graven image be allowing well-meaning church folks tell me how I should use my artistic gifts?
The thought that God could call me out of my current trajectory never crossed my mind until I was at a breaking point, ready to give up on music completely. Sometimes, in our most broken moments, can God's voice break through. Funny how that works.
I don't know what it was, maybe it was dying my hair pink or moving to Portland, but something finally clicked. I was breaking free, finally untangling myself from the fear that drove me to edit all those years. I was understanding how God's call evolves.
The thing about calling is that it's weird and it doesn't always make sense. Most importantly, it certainly doesn't follow cultural norms, not even church culture norms. I guess you could say calling can be dangerous to stagnent culture, even church culture.
WHAT I'VE LEARNED
Well, I certainly haven't figured it all out yet, but here's what I'm discovering:
- Each of us have been designed to play a different role in gospel work. These roles run the gambit from seed planters, tenders, and harvesters.
- I have fallen pray to the trap of thinking harvesting is sexier. It feels more Christian, tangible, measurable, and even evangelic.
- I'm starting to recognize that I've been called to plant seeds right now.
As I make peace with my place in the world (for now), I see that my music makes the biggest impact when it speaks truths about life in an honest and subtle way. I've noticed the songs that resonate with people the most are songs like The Sparrow Song and Stars. I think they resonate so deeply because they are seed planting songs and that's what I do best. These are the type of songs I was created to write.
I'm still trying to make sense of all of it, but I want to align my allegiance with God, not a genre.
WHAT WILL CHANGE
Though I'm allowing this process to play itself out unforced, most likely I'll be changing my genre if and when I decide to continue making music. Since this is quite a left turn, I thought it would only make sense to go under another moniker in order to create a clear distinction. This allows me to keep Alison Brook for a later time, in case I feel called back to making worship music.
I’m pursuing an unedited, joy-filled, life of freedom and I hope you do the same.