When I graduated from college, I remember my english professor Fred Ashe walking at the front of the procession carrying this huge winged sphere on a pole that looked straight out of The Jetsons. I remember thinking, “What is that?” It was a mace. Evidently, once the use of heavy armor went out of style, men came up with a ceremonial use for their proud battle club. And I’ll get back to that in a minute.
I, and many of my artist friends use the word “insecure” like an I.D. badge clipped onto our hip beatnik threads. I was having a conversation with a dear friend recently and he called himself “painfully insecure” with no hesitation whatsoever. At least he’s being honest, right?
Our culture teaches artists that our art gives us value. But even in that twisted value system, our creations are always in the past, sentencing us to a lifetime of self-doubt, and “chasing after the wind.” And man, that wind is hard to catch.
Now, as a believer of the Christian Gospel, kinship with Jesus gives me all the value I could ever need and more, but that is often hard to remember in the face of the ever-present false value system of our culture. I propose, therefore, that we pay new attention to the word, insecure. Since that’s our self-defeating word of choice, let us put it to proper use.
When the exterior doors of my house are locked, my house is relatively secure. Now, if someone really wanted to break in and screw things up, they could watch our daily habits and break in when we leave. But, I put my hope in the locks and the relative safety of the neighborhood, and drive away.
Here’s what I’m saying. As an artist and a believer in Christ, when I say “I am insecure,” I am actually saying, “I have forgotten where to put my hope.” I can not say “I am a believer” and “I am insecure” and be telling the truth about both things. I am either mistaken about my faith, or confused about the word “secure.” In Jesus, I am presently and eternally secure.
This is not mere semantics. If we agree that we can effortlessly idolize our gifts, and other peoples appreciation of them, then we can as easily encourage each other away from that tendency by calling it what it is.
“Today, I am forgetting the power of what Christ has done in me.”
“Today, I am believing a warped value system.”
“Today, I have forgotten. Will you remind me?”
That bears more hope than, “I am so insecure.” And, it is much more true.
This brings me back to the mace. What a nasty, powerful weapon. Back in the day, if you wielded a mace, you were ready to do serious harm. Today, we carry polished and decorated imitations for show. There is no danger, there is no power, and to an onlooker, the presence of a mace is just confusing.
This is what my faith is like when I claim “insecurity.” What is the point, really? This is not to say that we ought to remember Christ more. Not at all. This is just to say how much we need each other in this life of faith. For our faith to retain its age old purpose, we need to speak this language to each other as we fellowship together and perform together. As artists, we reflect the world back on itself. For us as much as anyone, it is imperative that we are not delusional. If the artist is confused about where to seek and find hope, so may become her audience.