"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

- Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings
What Theatre Taught Me About Life and Faith

If you know me, you probably know I love theatre. There is not much I love more than theatre. And every day I fall more in love with it. 

There are several reasons for why I love it. I can't deny that it is just plain fun. But there is so much more than that. It's hard, it's challenging, it's scary, it's vulnerable. But it never fails to move me. (Good theatre... To clarify). But, one of the biggest blessings that has come from studying theatre at Baylor University is what is has taught me about life, people, and God. I thought I would share some of those things with you. 

1) the main method that they teach us here about acting is to try to affect the other person. They want us to steer away from self-indulgent performances and get us to do everything we do to be about the other person. 

To be honest, sometimes I can be very self absorbed. I mean, who isn't from time to time? But sometimes I have the daily struggle of feeling like I don't love people enough or like God has commanded us. And, no joke, I was praying about this and wanting to grow and God brought me back to what we learn in acting. If while I am acting I am always focused on the other person and making them feel a certain way why can't I do that in real life? Now, while acting it can be a very manipulative tool. But I realized that when I leave a conversation with someone I want them to feel more loved and valued and encouraged than when we began. That's simple. And it's very humbling. The second you focus on yourself while acting it is 9 times out of 10 less interesting than when you keep your focus on the other person. You don't care how you look or play for the audience you just do whatever you need to to get what you want from the other. You actually have to be very humble to act.

2) not every role is right for me to play. This has been a harder lesson to learn- both in life and acting. It's hard to see the cast list and not see your name. But I was not made to fill every role. But I am made to fit some role.

Same thing in life. God has given each and every one of us different gifts. So I can't compare myself with others. If someone gets cast and I don't- it's not always about whose more talented. Sometimes it's as simple as I'm too short or not blonde or whatever. Same in the church. If someone is in a role and thriving and that's not where God has put me I can't say that their role is better than mine. Because what God has made me for is what he wants me to do. So I should be thankful and celebrate that. 

3) I can't judge my character. Sometimes I play roles that are very different than me. I've played roles where I don't agree with the life my character lives. But if I judge them the audience will see and it won't be as believable. I have to find some way to relate to the character and believe my character is right.

I can't judge others. Now, I don't necessarily have to justify there actions or dig deep in myself to relate with them. But judging others is not my job. And I have learned many many times that when I do judge others... I usually find myself doing the same thing sooner or later. So i shouldn't judge when I don't know their heart. Because things are always more complicated than they seem. Acting has made me more compassionate because you step inside their head and see, sometimes, it's not all black and white.

4) life is messy. I feel like I've spent too much time trying to run from the ickiness of this world. As a Christian I have tried so hard to paint this picture that I am perfect and have it all together. But I'm not and I don't. At all. And I think that we need to not be so afraid to explore some areas of life that are hard. Not comprimising what the Bible says but just opening our eyes to the fact that life is messy. People are messy. We make mistakes. And that makes grace so beautiful. That makes hope so much more real. There are some things in theatre that I wouldn't feel comfortable doing for various reasons (like I will never be in 50 Shades of Grey: The Musical). But instead of shielding my eyes (which I watch a lot of theatre as a theatre major so I really can't) we should talk about these things, let the script and the actors teach us something, and then say that grace, hope, and Jesus are real. This is a very complicated part of the theatre that I don't think I could really flesh out on here, but a HUGE lesson I've learned in college.

Everyone has a story to tell. And I realized that a lot of sharing the gospel with them is also letting them share their life with me. 

All this points me towards Jesus. It all drives me to my knees in awe, thankfulness, and desperation for my savior. And I love that. 

The Joy of The Lord is My Strength

It's funny how God breaks through to me. It's funny how one conversation with one friend changes my perspective on my semester. 

This semester really hasn't been horrible. I LOVE my acting class and have learned so much in that class. I fall more in love with theatre everyday which confirms for me that this is where I'm supposed to be. Baylor football is dominating. Friends are abundant and life-giving. I got cast in my first show, etc. But you know how everyone always asks "how is your semester going?"?  Well, I found it really hard to say "it's going good." I don't know why. I could only muster up "it's really hard." Because deep down inside I have struggled to be happy this semester. There are many reasons why- and I know most of them- but it has a lot to do with the fact that this semester has been a huge transition, one long search and journey, and lots of changes. I mean... That's life in general. But I've just struggled to feel purpose, belonging, and happiness anywhere. And when you have felt that in the past, the times you don't feel it are magnified. And I hate it. It sucks. 

I was kinda worried about the end of the semester and going home. I didn't want it to end on a low note. I didn't want it to  end as it has been going. I didn't want this to be my story when I recount my semester.

But then I was talking to a friend over dinner about life and God and all the things girls love to discuss when I kind of stumbled into this truth: happiness is cheap. 

I love being happy. I love laughing. I love being the life of the party. I love those moments when you can't stop smiling and you just want that moment to last forever. And, honestly, I can point to moments this semester when I've had that. But those moments don't last. They aren't with us forever. One day I'm happy the next day I'm not. Happiness is fleeting. So I can't bank on it. I can't pursue it or chase after the things that I think will make me happy. They don't last. I've tried.

So, yes, this semester I've struggled to be happy. But, I'm okay with that, because that's not my goal for life. My goal in life is simple: to know Jesus and to make him known. And you know what isn't cheap? JOY. When I have a hold of the sure foundation of Jesus he promises joy in all circumstances. And joy isn't dependent on my circumstances. It just is. And that's so hopeful and so freeing! 

All the details of what to do and where to go in life haunt me daily, but if I focus more on KNOWING and BEING with Jesus that will all come together. He'll guide me. He won't let me go. He won't let me wander too far off the path. 

And that's my semester.