Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Time to Get Real

I think it's been about fifteen minutes now that I have started and restarted this blog entry. Every beginning I come up with just doesn't work, and I end up deleting everything I've written. I want the first few sentences to hook my reader, as all bloggers do, but I think this one is just going to be raw and honest, and may not be the most well written or witty. There's an issue that needs addressing, and I've been trying to figure out the best way to do it. So I guess I'll give it a try.

A lot of non-believers think Christians are all cookie cutter copies of one another. We all act, think, speak, and carry ourselves the same, as well as have the exact same beliefs on every single subject in the history of everything. Honestly, I know people who think this. It frightens me mostly because I have seen many people who say they are Christ followers, but what they worship most are things of this earth and not of Heaven. I digress, though. This entry isn't about Christianity in a generic sense. It's about something much more personal.

I was blessed with the opportunity to go to an event this past Saturday where I could sell and sign my books. I've done this twice before at the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire, as well as at a local bookstore. Now, being perfectly honest, the NHRF feels like home to me now. I don't know if any other signing event will top it because they gave me my first shot and welcomed me back with open arms this year. I've even had people threaten me if I didn't return next year with at least one new book. It's my Ren family and I love it. It was through this faire that I met Jeremy Oneail. He approached me this May at my booth and said he was going to be hosting several wizarding (read Harry Potter) events in the coming months and thought I would be a perfect fit for a vendor. I took his info and told him I'd think about it. My gut reaction was "no," but I told him I would think about it, and I was going to do just that. I was also going to pray about it because that is what I do. I try not to make any big decisions like that without talking to God about it first...try being the operative word. I am not a perfect Christian by any stretch of the imagination.

This first event would be a market day, something set up like Diagon Alley in Harry Potter where people would get to come in, shop, see some shows, drink butterbeer, and meet some of the teachers for the school days in the fall. I was hesitant because of the stigma, quiet honestly, one that was drilled into me from a very early age. This kind of stuff, even if it's fiction, is not okay for a Christian. But, reminded a small voice in my head, I'd read all the books and seen all the movies. God gifted me with a very sensitive spirit when it comes to discernment. I know almost immediately when someone or something is not okay for me or my walk. I get this icky, uncomfortable feeling that tells me something is toxic, and, if I'm smart, I walk away. Harry Potter was never something that made me feel that way. So I prayed about it and received an answer almost right away, a knowledge that this was something I should do. I committed to the three days and looked forward to the new venue.

I have to tell you, it was crazy! The venue itself was perfect for the atmosphere. If you've ever been to the Higgins Armory in Mass, you'll know how cool it looks inside. If you haven't, look up pictures on Google. It's just a perfect location. I ended up selling 23 books which, again, being honest, was nowhere near what I had wanted or expected to sell. However, Saturday night I learned from many people posting on the event page that there were numerous cases of people wanting to stop at different vendors but they simply couldn't because it was so over-crowded. The total number of people who came through the doors that day was over 1,900, and no one was prepared for that kind of traffic. Keep in mind, this was the first year this event has been held, so no one really knew what to expect. To be over capacity for the building and still have a line of over 100 people out the door waiting to get in? Pretty sure no one planned for that. As the day went on and I sold such a small amount of books to such an overwhelmingly large crowd, I expected to be disappointed. Yet with each book or set of books I sold, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to pray. I don't know that I have ever prayed for strangers so fervently before. As I packed everything up at the end of the day, I actually felt at peace. I knew those who would read the books were the people that needed the content within the most.

At one point during the day I had an older woman approach my table. She looked my books over, then eyed the Celtic cross I had next to Heritage. "Are these Christian?" she asked, a mixture of confusion and disgust on her face. Cheerful, I replied, "Yes they are." She looked at me with her brows drawn together. "So you talk about Jesus in these books?" I nodded, the smile never leaving my face. "I do indeed. The names are changed to fit in with the whole fantasy element, but God and Jesus are in there. The story of the crucifixion and salvation are laid out pretty plainly in the first book, and scripture is and will be woven throughout the rest of the series." She didn't say anything for a moment, but glanced over the covers of my books one more time. Then, still confused, she asked, "I thought your people didn't like Harry Potter."

It was God's grace that kept me from laughing, y'all. Your people. My first thought was, "Lord, help me if I am ever chosen to represent my people." And then it hit me. That's exactly what I was doing. I nodded again, my smile slipping just a bit because I had two people tell me just the day before that they were disappointed in me for even considering doing an event like this. "This sort of genre is very polarizing for Christians. They either think it's bad and should be avoided at all costs, or they recognize it as fiction and can separate the fact from reality with it. I know Harry Potter is not teaching children how to be a real witch or a real wizard. It's fiction, fantasy...just like my own books." She paused with one more glance at my books, then gave me a small, awkward smile and said, "Well, I don't know if your books are any good, but if they are, good luck," before moving on.

That conversation was the reality check I needed. How many of those 1,900+ people walking through those doors knew Jesus? How many of them were even open to hearing about Him? How many of them, in this world that has become so full media that boasts of sex, violence, and graphic language, would even get a taste of Christ if it wasn't in an engaging story? I may have disappointed some people by going to this event - heck, I found out this weekend that I have family disappointed in me for writing fantasy to begin with; the devil is a dragon in the bible, you know - but I know God placed me there on purpose.

Friday was not a good day for me. Besides having the lack of support for my doing this event and it being shown so publicly, I have been struggling with severe depression and self-worth when it comes to my writing. I sat in my bedroom, crying much of the afternoon, questioning whether or not I was doing the right thing. Each time I asked (Thank you, Lord, for never losing patience with me.) I felt that cherished peace come over me that told me my path was the one I was supposed to take. Though friends and loved ones sometimes think they are correct and that their paths should be my own, I am on the one He wants me on, and He knows I know the second I stray from it.

I know this has been a long entry, and if you've stayed with me to the end, I thank you for having patience with me as well. All of this has been to say that it's okay if someone's walk looks different from your own. You don't know how God is going to use them. If you know their heart truly seeks after God, then you have to trust they are seeking Him still when they go into situations that you might not be comfortable in yourself. Each person is convicted of and by different things in their walk. It's not up to you to condemn them, but to pray for them, to support them, and in private, voice your concern so a dialogue can happen between you and not the rest of the world.

I love the people in m life who care enough about me to address concerns. I need people like that in my life. We all do. Just remember the next time you see something going on with a friend or loved one that worries you or gives you pause, it is biblical to address it with them and it is healthy to talk about it, but don't condemn anyone for making a choice you would not make yourself. Love, support, and pray when all is said and done. It's what we are called to do as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Have a fantastic Wednesday, everyone, and happy reading, no matter what your genre!

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