Even though this pains me, I’m going to be really vulnerable and honest here, feel free to skip over this if it bores you, it’s perfectly okay. This doesn’t really have a lot of practical application like most of my posts do. I just need to be honest right now.

I’ve spent a good chunk of my evening watching a web series following a truly phenomenal group of spoken word poets called Striver’s Row as they tour, perform, and share their hearts behind the scenes. Seeing them, their hard work, hardship, and commitment to do whatever it takes to follow their calling is jarring. It’s an earnest slap to the face to watch a bunch of 20-something year old kids like myself pursuing doctoral degrees, writing their asses off, performing their poems around the world, in the White House, for television, at their alma maters as commencement speakers with awards named after them, all because they know that this impact is exactly what they were made for and they are committed to making it, life or death.

Meanwhile, I’ve known since I was a child that I want to change lives, but I grew up lazy, arrogant, foolish, entitled and most of all, terrified.

Terrified of my own gift.
Terrified of all of the work I knew lay before me.
Terrified of standing out.
Terrified of failing.
Terrified that I might not be everything I’ve sorely wanted to believe I am.

I’ve known all my life that I owe a huge debt to the world and I’ve run and run from it over and over and over, and now by some miracle, it dawns on me as I watch these videos:

I can do this.
I am absolutely capable.
All I have to do is work for it. Work hard for it. Really hard.

It’s in me, and I’m finally ready to do what is required of me. I’m not afraid anymore. I see myself better than I ever have, and I’m ready to suffer, to pour myself out because I know that I have a message that people desperately need.

Thank you Josh Bennett. Thank you Striver’s Row. Thank you for showing me what I am worthy and capable of. What God expects of me. What the world needs from me.

Downhere | How Many Kings

Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we’ve projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all,
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother’s shawl,
Just a child,
Is this who we’ve waited for?

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek,
Because we believe.
Gold for his honor and frankincense
For his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he will suffer
Do you believe?
Is this who we’ve waited for?

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Only one did that for me.

Finding a Voice. Forging Ahead.

Poetry is not preaching. It is my belief that a good “Christian” poem doesn’t simply state Biblical truth, but rather animates it. Poems should give us pictures and colors where we only saw words before. They should make us re-examine the depth with which we understand the things we perceive to be simple, and challenge us to engage the things that seem out of reach. It should open new worlds within common knowledge, not just restate it. Poems should fuse truth to us in ways that traditional study and research can’t. The same should be said of all art.

I’ve been fighting to let my writing have that kind of depth and as frustrating as it is, the reward is spilling over into all of me. My writing process is becoming more and more fulfilling, and my daily life right beside it.

I can only imagine how it will feel to actually excel at it! I’m very determined to know. Meanwhile, may God give me grace to keep diving deeper.

#31 For What it’s Worth…

Sometimes, I just need to hear that I can. That what I have is useful to the real world, that it’s worth paying for, that it isn’t just extra, but that it’s necessary. I need to be reminded that what I do is essential, essential enough to sustain a life with, to sustain a family with, if I work hard enough.

I don’t find myself believing that much.

I feel like my skill set is full of extras, things that are “nice” to have, but aren’t important. I know I’m dope. I know I write well. I know that my poems are powerful and that they stir people, I just don’t feel like anyone would call poetry “crucial” or “vital” to their lives. That they would deem it enough so to pay what it’s worth to them. This is the fault of the artist as well as the consumer.

I give my work away… I ask nothing for all the hours I know that I pour into it, and so no one sees the worth of those hours, they see a handful of words, not a careful construction of beautiful, true, inspirational, empowering, life-enriching words images and messages with the power to change their lives, break paradigms, bring clarity, introduce perspective, or facilitate healing. That’s my fault. I enjoy giving it away, but I need to begin seeing the worth of my work, and helping others to do the same for mine AND their own.

I still want to be generous and give lots of it away, but giving is only generous when what you’re giving has an established value. To be generous with my work, I need to establish a value. I have to believe in its value. I have to believe in MY value.

#26 (no title)

We write
As if words were light;
Each line defined as if
Shot in black and white
Nothing extra.
A simple subject portrayed
There’s something about the way we write
That strips subjects bare,
Laying their souls before us
So that we may face our own reflections
Without the pain of actually
Facing ourselves