I am a Christian and I am a writer. But I have never, ever called myself a Christian writer.
So when I was invited to speak at the Southern Christian Writers Conference this summer I was reluctant to accept. Eventually, though, I said yes, but I was sure I’d spend the entire weekend feeling like a fraud.
While I was packing my outfits and preparing my workshop I was also preparing to feel out of place. Through most of my adolescence and adulthood, I’ve felt out of place with Christians and non-Christians alike. I am a Christian, but I’m a very liberal one. And when you’re a Southern, liberal Christian you often walk through life wondering if you’re crazy. Church folks tell you that you aren’t Christian enough. Liberal folks think you’re stupid for going to church in the first place.
In the past, I’ve had church people pray over me because they thought I had too many gay friends and I’ve even been told that being childless by choice is outside of God’s will.
I use the pronouns “He” and “She” interchangeably when discussing God and not to be edgy but because whether I’m enduring my darkest days or basking in a bounty of blessings I see my God as both my Heavenly Father and my Mother Divine.
Despite these things, many people do think of me as a nice Christian girl because I go to church and share Scripture on social media. And I have polished, professional, proper and prim Javacia down pat.
But people who know me well know I drink too much, I curse like a sailor, and I listen to trap music daily — yes, even on Sundays. So when I’m around Christian travel bloggers who turn down free trips to wineries and refuse to listen to secular music I feel a bit out of my element.
However, I realized that I was making the same unfair assumptions about the attendees of the Southern Christian Writers Conference as my atheist and agnostic acquaintances make about me. I assumed they’d all be celebrating Alabama’s abortion ban and lamenting any and all rights that have been won for gay people in this country. I thought they’d start clutching their pearls at any mention of the word “feminist.”
But I was wrong.
On the second day of the conference, I decided to wear my heart on my sleeve, or rather my beliefs across my chest, and I sported a tank that read, “If you hate anyone because of your faith, you’re doing it wrong.”
That day at lunch I had an impassioned conversation with my tablemates about the church’s unacceptable treatment of women, how so many churches, even in 2019, still treat women as second-class citizens or as tainted temptresses that the precious men of the church must be protected from. We also discussed the church’s failure to embrace the LGBTQ community. And here’s the thing — I didn’t start either of these conversations. Other people at my table did and one older gentleman nodded and said to me, “People need to take heed of the message on your shirt.”
Redefining What It Means to Be a Christian Writer
The people at this conference, these Christian writers, weren’t locked and loaded ready to fire judgment at anyone not in their conservative clique. They were people who understood that being a Christian isn’t about rules or even religion. It’s about loving God and loving people.
Perhaps, I thought, this is what it means to be a Christian writer, too.
Writing can be a form of worship.
Rachel Hollis explained it best in her wildly popular 2018 book Girl, Wash Your Face. She writes:
Creating is the greatest expression of reverence I can think of because I recognize that the desire to make something is a gift from God. The freedom to carve out time and have a safe place to create that art is a blessing of the highest level in a world where so many people are unable to have either.Rachel Hollis
If I use my writing to uplift God and uplift others then maybe I’m a Christian writer after all.