Beyond the Buff Jesus: A worthy risk

Sarah-Dianne Jones shares her experience at Montreat Youth Conference. Photo courtesy of Ariana Hansen.
Sarah-Dianne Jones urges us to take that risky step forward and aspire to try new and exciting experiences, while remembering that we have faith to back us up when we get discouraged. Photo courtesy of Ariana Hansen.


    I have long had a secret desire to be a poet, or at least to have the ability to write poetry. I never imagined that this dream would be achievable. Instead I chose to push it aside and focus on the things that I know that I am good at, an aspect of my Type A, perfectionist personality that has been known to come back to bite me.

    Last spring when I created my schedule, I needed an extra class for the fall and decided to take a chance and sign up for a creative writing course in poetry. This was my version of taking a risk, of pushing myself to write things that I may not necessarily want to share with people, external manifestations of my emotional reality that I have spent years learning how to hide.

    Imagine my surprise when poetry became my favorite class. I do not consider myself to be a great poet, probably not even a very good poet, but I love the writing. I love that I get to read poetry and can say that I am doing my homework. I love that I am being pushed to show my experiences through words, but above all, I love that my faith is being influenced by this.

    The Bible is full of poetry: the book of Psalms, the song of Miriam and Mary’s song of praise are just a few examples. I have long reached for the psalms when I do not know how to pray or what to pray or feel like there are no words to explain the feelings that I am feeling. But I never imagined that writing a prayer in the form of poetry might be an answer for me. At least, I had not imagined that possibility until this fall.

    Writing has taken on new meaning in my life over the past few months. No longer do I feel pressure to turn out pages and pages in my journal, nor do I feel like I need to use hundreds of words to describe a particular situation.

    As I have learned different writing styles and practiced metaphor and imagery, I have found ways to express my hopes, desires, fears and anxieties in ways that make the emotions almost tangible.

    Channeling those things into poetry has taught me a new way to pray. Never before have I put these vulnerabilities onto paper and written the parts of my head that I do not necessarily like. I have never given them up to God in a way that is more honest than I have found it within me to be.

    I have no belief that I am a great poet. Honestly, I am probably not even that good, and this time, I do not mind. It does not bother me that I am not able to be perfect. The Type A part of my personality has taken a backseat, and I have found a way to be myself that I never would have found without taking the risk and pushing myself into something that scared me.

    I may never be a poet, but learning how to write poetry has helped me find a road that will help me become a better version of who I am. This experience has helped me learn to pray and connect to God in a new way. I may never be a poet, and that is okay.

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