I imagined at the beginning of this project, that at the end of it, I'd hit that send button and find a solemn moment where all the emotions came flooding in like a storm. Last week I sent in my last and final episode for Beyond Belief, this morning it aired. What a journey.
I've been wrestling a lot with this idea of creation and art, how the mission of the artist is to create and give a part of themselves away. Lately, I've been feeling as selfish and self-centered as ever, struggling to find ways to express myself in my own life process, and pushing whatever comes out into the world. I've been relentless in my pursuit of discovering myself and learning this medium.
A few months ago, I would've never given myself permission to do something like this. A 5-episode series, 5-7 minutes long, on such a dense topic. This was my first project. And I say this with every bit of seriousness and pent up emotion that I've bottled for the last 3 months: this shit was so, so, so, hard.
Hours, days, nights, weeks, and months with little to no sleep. An editor that ran off with my money and wasted a months of my time. Picked up poor methods of coping with stress (like chain-smoking for two months). God I'm a mess.
I found an old journal entry the other day from when I was 18, a reminder from the days I was zealously involved in ministry. Days when the only prayer that compelled me was the dream of seeing God being properly represented. Jesus without all the religious facade and politics, no white-imperialism Christianity, no blind church leaders carelessly over-spiritualizing Donald Trump as some God-given prophet, no radicalism, no picket signs, no hate speech, no self-righteous preaching, no conversion-motivated fake relationship bullshit.
Beyond Belief was something that I incubated in my heart for years. It's something I fought to understand and realize in my own journey to understand myself and to know who God is. These episodes, the interviews, the artists, and my friends, gave me more affirmation and revelation than any service or prayer meeting has given me in years.
In the end, I realize that our ability to create is what makes us like God. I'm blessed to be surrounded by men and women that create to give life, life that I needed for so long to resurrect the art I, myself, had killed. In my interview with Christianity Daily, I mentioned that our goal was to build bridges through this series-- bridges between faith and art, religion and culture, generations to generations...
Beyond Belief was my own bridge as well. A cross-over and hybrid of my own journey as I stand in the node between my past and future. For most of my life, I dreamt from a place of brokenness searching for identity. Ministry and religion was my crutch for that, a blindly self-serving season of my life. So many times throughout this series, I would catch myself thinking of ways to escape back to familiarity. I was good at ministry, missions was easier than filmmaking.
But fuck the easy route and familiarity. I've crossed my bridges, choose to let it all go. I've learned much from this opportunity, on a skill level and on a personal level. I'm grateful for my friends and family who've given me permission above and beyond to succeed in finishing this show. In moments when insecurity and fear of failure crippled me to try, in times when I passed off the work to someone else because I tried to avoid the responsibility of stewarding it. This project wouldn't allow itself to leave my hands.
From this point on it's a different game. When dreams start becoming goals, when cool ideas start becoming plans. I was 17 when this whole call to media and story-telling crawled into my life. I always thought it'd be cool to tell stories for a living. Now I tell stories for a living.