How do you describe your work, what you do every day?
What do you call someone who mostly writes but also acts and makes stuff (videos, artifacts)? This used to trouble me. I’d picture my mom sitting with her friends, talking about what their kids did. She’d be sweating the whole time, not knowing what to say when they got to her. (I mean, if I didn’t know how to describe my work, how could she?) Then, I had an epiphany. I realized that everything I did was born out of a story or was a story itself. I realized I was a storyteller. Of course, I called my mom immediately.
Why do you think storytelling is so important in our culture?
I love this question because there are so many answers. Here’s one: Storytelling draws us out of ourselves. It pulls us out of our lives and thrusts us into the lives of others. And what’s crazy is that a lot of times—though these fictitious strangers—we’re able to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. To me, storytelling shows me that life means something more. It’s more than just the here-and-now, than the never-ending list of isolating busyness and to-dos. We’re meant to pause and explore, to ruminate on creation, spin enchanting tales, wonder what it all means.
What have you learned about God and yourself in “the gig economy,” where you’re working on a project-by-project basis?
I’ve learned that God is more gracious than I can even imagine. I spend many days just picking my jaw up off the floor. Working with Acton Institute and Gorilla continues to boggle my mind and, when I consider how I arrived here, I’m even more in awe of God's love. There have been rent-free houses, cars as gifts, health insurance miracles. I could go on and on. God’s delivered my family from the brink many times. It hasn’t been easy; it’s been nearly impossible. But he’s been gracious.
As for myself, I’ve learned just to keep showing up and to stop worrying about everything else. The former is much easier than the latter. Also, I’m learning to be present wherever I am with whoever is there, as that’s more than likely where I’m supposed to be.
When you’re deciding whether to work on a particular gig, what sorts of things do you consider?
I don’t really have a lot of criteria for the work I’ll take on. If it makes the world better, and I have time to do it, I’m in. It’s really that simple. I doubt I’ll ever have time for political ads . . . unless they’re my own. (He laughs.) And I have no plans to run for office. Ever.
In your work, what temptations do you face?
Writing and preparing to write are very lonely and difficult activities for me. I’m an extrovert and don’t “do lonely” very well. The temptation to chat and laugh with others instead of quieting myself is very, very real. Also, it can be easy for me to get ahead of myself in my work, fantasizing about having silly stuff like electronics or new cars or planning my next career moves before I actually get there. It’s selfish and stupid, I know, but my brain goes there from time to time. But when things get muddy in my brain, in good times and bad, I reel myself in with these words:
My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore. (Ps. 131:1-3)