The phrase "integrating faith and art" puts our focus on trying to fix or change our faith or art instead of on us and our task to align ourselves with the spiritual reality that we are already whole and complete in Christ. In this episode, I challenge you to replace the question How do I integrate my faith and art with How do I navigate this Kingdom artist experience as a person already whole and complete in Christ?
Hello, and welcome to the Kingdom Art Life podcast. I'm your host Marlita Hill, here to help you walk in wholeness, move and freedom, and work in harmony as you build your art career in collaboration with God.
For several years now, I've had a problem with the phrase, “integrating faith in art,” or any other version of that sentiment.
And here's why.
Well, there are two parts to that why. First is the meaning of integration, and what that meaning implies about the state of the relationship between our faith and art. According to Cambridge Dictionary, to integrate means “to end the separation of.” Dictionary.com defines it as “incorporating, [I'm going to say] separate parts into a whole.”
These definitions imply our faith and art are separate and need to be brought together, that they are so separate and at odds with one another that we have to put in work to bring them together. And therein lies the second part of why I have a problem with this phrase: it implies a relationship between our faith and art that is spiritually inaccurate.
Here's the truth—and if you've been with me for a while, you've heard me say this:
when Christ redeemed us, He redeemed every single thing about us. So there is nothing, not one thing about us that exists outside of that redemption. Every aspect of us is united in His redemption and we have been made whole and complete in Him. Now, there is something we need to address. There is work we have to do, but it has nothing to do with integrating anything because we're already whole and complete in Christ. Nor does the focus of any work we do need to be on our faith and art. They're fine. The thing we need to address is our misalignment.
Our actual work is to align—not integrate—some things, which is defined as bringing something into agreement or correct relationship with something else. We need to align the way we live, think, see, and engage in this kingdom artist experience with the spiritual reality that we are already whole and complete in Christ. Our work is to accept that Christ has made us whole and learn to live, make art, and navigate our career experiences as a whole person. It’s to start thinking like a whole person would think, move around in the world, like a whole person would move around, etc.
How would a whole person navigate this experience as a marketplace-planted, career-engaged Kingdom artist? That's the question we need to be unpacking. Not how do we bring together parts of ourselves and our experience that are already one. I mean, we only have one body, and we only have one experience. I believe our work is to engage ourselves in the Ephesians 4:1 challenge to walk worthy of the calling with which we've been called, or get busy learning how to anyway.
The Passion translation says “walk in a way that is suitable to our high ranking,” which I think is cool. We've been called whole and called to wholeness. And our work is to get to the business of living up to our station. And this makes me think of the Disney movie, “Princess Diaries,” where Mia learns she is the princess and heir apparent of Genovia.
When we meet Mia, she's a nerdy high school girl trying to find her place and way in the world. She's a princess, but she doesn't know she's a princess. When her grandmother informs her that she's, in fact, a princess, the first thing Mia has to do is get over what she believes about herself and accept her royal reality. For the rest of the movie, we watch Mia as she learns how to live in that reality. Now Mia was a princess before she ever knew she was a princess. And her being a princess had nothing to do with anything she did. Further, her work of learning how to conduct herself was not to make herself a princess. Her work was to learn how to be what she already was. Now, it's true that our faith and art are distinct parts of us—yes, I would even use the word separate, as in they're each a part in their own right. But in the spirit of First Corinthians 12, they are individual parts of one body. One experience.
Though I have a problem with the phraseology, I understand the intention and heart behind the idea of integrating our faith and art. We can act like they aren't part of the same single experience. We can isolate, exclude, diminish, and try to silence the expression of these parts of ourselves in the various activities and spaces we occupy.
But that's us exercising our beliefs and fears on these parts of ourselves. It's us acting like they both don't live in the same heart, same life, same spirit, same experience. It's us projecting our stuff on our parts.
But it is not the reality of what is.
And I know it can also sometimes feel like our faith and art aren't part of the same single experience. Some of us think our parts need to be integrated because one part seems to be more front of mind for us, or one is more expressed in a given situation or environment. So we feel like they're separated not simply separate, as in individual and distinct but present in the same single experience.
And I get that.
But here's the cool thing. You and I are like H-2-0. No matter what environment it's in, H-2-0 is always H-2-0. No matter what it's doing, H-2-0 is always H-2-0. But it doesn't express itself the same way in every environment. Different aspects of its nature become apparent or have more expression depending on the nature of the environment it's in. H-2-0 can express itself as either a solid as ice, a liquid as water, or a gas as steam.
But it's always H-2-0.
And you are the same.
You have many, many parts. But you are always you, even though different aspects of your nature may take a greater expression as a suitable for your situation or environment. But that doesn't mean you need to be integrated. And if you discover that you've been consciously or unconsciously suppressing parts of yourself in situations or environments, you still don't need to integrate yourself. You need to address why you suppress and then simply stop suppressing those parts of yourself,
or conclude and accept that the outward expression of said part is not suitable for that particular situation or environment.
Then be at peace about it.
My beef with integrating our faith and art is that it puts the focus on trying to fix what is broken in either our faith or art. But they're fine. I mean, yes, we are always evolving, growing and maturing in both, but there is nothing about them that needs to be fixed.
On the other hand, aligning the way we live and move with the spiritual reality that we are whole puts the focus rightfully on us. If we take our princess Mia journey, and learn to walk as and in what we are, we will release our faith and art to interact with the freedom they were designed to have.
All that to say, you are already whole. Your faith and art are individual parts of you but they are one in you as you are whole in Christ. And you are always you even when a part of you may be more expressed or have more of your attention at a given time. So you don't have to spend time or effort trying to integrate your faith and art.
You just need to accept the fact that you're a Princess,
and learn to live like the royalty you already are.