Lamenting Over a Label

11 07 2012

Today was a day where there was lots of talk about labels. I woke up this morning and read a blog post from the president of my soon-to-be-university, Dr. Richard Mouw, where he talked about reclaiming the label of “evangelical.” Later, I came across this blog post and this blog post about doing away with labels that cripple us. Tonight as I looked at the original “Labels Lie” campaign, I was brought back to some things that I’ve been thinking about all day…

If there is one label that I want to put on, it is the label of Christian. Why? Because I believe this thing, ya’ll. It’s the only hope that I cling to. It’s a label that reminds me that in the eyes of God I’m no longer any of the names on the Labels Lie page. But here’s the catch. That label doesn’t come without baggage. A Christian is a Christ-follower, one who patterns their life after Jesus. Christianity gets a bad wrap in our society because we haven’t always been the best representatives of it. Some of the accusations are true. We often don’t live our lives like Jesus. I know I don’t. So sometimes I shy away from the label because of other people’s failures and because of my own failures to live up to the name.

Even as a filmmaker I am faced with the dilemma of this label. I don’t mind being called a Christian filmmaker. I can’t deny my faith’s existence in my work, just like I can’t ignore the fact that I am black, that I am a woman, that I am single, etc. Whether the films I make are considered “secular” or not, whether they are blatantly Christian or not, I’m always going to bring some aspect of my faith into the equation simply because it is part of who I am and it guides my thought process. But a lot of the Christian artists I know try to shirk this title. And I get it, I understand. Let’s just say Christian films aren’t exactly leaders in the innovation and quality department. Unfortunately, labeling yourself as a Christian filmmaker can sometimes put you in the category of  sub-par filmmaker, and who wants that? But I am…a filmmaker who is a Christian…And yet, sometimes when strangers ask me what type of filmmaker I am, I’m not always quick to define myself this way because I don’t want to be judged as sub-par. But inside I long to tell them…because that’s part of who I am…

And so I lament over this label.

I want to be labeled a Christian woman. A Christian artist. A Christ follower. A believer.

But I’m embarrassed. I’m scared. I’m unworthy. I’m flawed.

It’s a tug of war as to how to embrace this word. Yet, with all of its weight, saying I’m a Christian also means that I am forgiven. I am not condemned. I am loved. I am inspired. Oh what an oxymoron! But just as Dr. Mouw chose to reclaim the original meaning and intent of the word evangelical despite it’s bad press, I think “Christian” is a word that sums up the way we’re even able to live with ourselves in the midst of our screw-ups. It sums up how I have the wherewithall to create anything in the first place.

And it’s all because of the cross.

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