The year I attended Incarnate was the first year theatre artists were stepping into the training. Spiritually and emotionally, I felt in my element with the Incarnate community. Creatively, I felt like a fish out of water. I am a theatre artist. The feel of a script in my hand as I memorize and discover my character, the smell of a stage, the design of a new costume, the excitement on opening night: these are things that made my creativity ignite. I was accustomed to receiving a script and diving in with a team (actors, designers, and crew) to bring that script to life.
At Incarnate, I was given a metaphorical basket of ideas, asked to pick one up and devise a production with it, and then go on to choose another idea. Now, there are absolutely people in the theatre world doing this kind of thing and doing it very well. I was not one of them. Let me be perfectly honest: I felt so far out of my element, that I almost gave up and walked away from the training.
It was around this time of creative struggle that I sat down with two other people in the nearly empty dining area one evening. They kindly listened as I described my struggle, explaining that it felt like I was trying to paddle a boat without the paddle. “No,” I realized, “this is not like anything I’ve ever done. I am not even in the boat anymore!” My lightbulb moment occurred as I remembered that Peter said, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you” just before he stepped out of the boat with his eyes on Jesus.
I jumped up, gave my hurried excuses to my companions, and ran to the studio to brainstorm. I realized if I was no longer in the boat, then I had to think outside of the boat …uh, box. This new way of thinking forced me to open up to creative freedom. Freedom to create anything in any way in which I wanted. It was scary. However, it also focused my eyes back on Jesus rather than my own artistic boat of a traditional theatre and cast and crew. It paved the beginnings of creating brand new works with Him and for Him.
My journey to get to Incarnate was my step-out-of-the-boat moment, even if I did not realize it until I was weeks into the training. It took faith to apply for Incarnate, it took faith to pay so much money, and it definitely took faith to give up my creative ambitions and a job I loved. It took faith to believe that God was luring me and confirming that it was him calling me out of my comfortable spot. What I have received in return has been nothing short of miraculous, and the stories I could tell that have stemmed from my time at Incarnate could fill books. Even so, I’ll stop here and ask one thing: Is it time for you to step out of the boat?