The last month has been hectic. COVID. lead actor in a film. George Floyd. Protests. Wrote a poetry book. Self published my poetry book. Articles started to get written about my activism and my art.
One day I was out with a friend who happens to be a crew member of the film I’m in, and she introduced me to her friend by saying, “this is Matthew he just self published a poetry book and he’s the lead actor in the film I was telling you about.”
Alarms went off inside of me as if I was a bank that was being robbed. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. I wasn’t okay with being introduced like that. Why? Well, one reason is that I didn’t want people to look at me differently.
Recently, an article came out called, “5 emerging leaders in Madison” and I was 1 of the 5. When I read that article I thought to myself, “wow, THAT guy sounds awesome.” But…THAT guy didn’t feel like it was me. I said everything they said that I said, so how come I felt like an imposter? A fraud? “I’m not THAT big of a deal”, I’d tell myself, “I’m not really an emerging leader.”
How come I not only don’t like when other people see me for who I am? But I also feed myself a narrative that breeds imposter syndrome? Can’t I accept my own success as valid, and real? “You can’t be as bright as they say you are”, I tell myself. Even tho I know that since my youth I’ve rigorously pursued developing myself so that one day I could shine. This double consciousness- at once permissive and restrictive of my shine- wars within me.
Where I come from people aren’t encouraged to shine, it’s almost as if we believe there’s not enough sky for all of us to be stars. But, I want to be more than a star- I want to be a sun. Why must we let fear rob us of our bravery? Pillage us of the treasures inside- leaving most of us so barren we can’t even imagine thinking highly of ourselves? Most people don’t have articles written about them saying that their “voice is one that everyone should be listening to.” and so, I, more than most people in my life am confronted with this reality of other’s estimation of me. And it seems to be quite lofty. I know what they say, “don’t believe the hype.” But, rejecting the truth about yourself isn’t humility. It’s insecurity.
In writing my book, You Can Not Burn The Sun, SHINE is something I wanted to encourage myself to do. The sun IS bright. It IS seen most days. In fact, without it, none of us would be alive. I want to cultivate the kind of courage to allow myself to shine. To be able to say, and believe, “my contributions to this world are important.”
To that end, I’m learning to be like the sun. From now on, if people tell me I shine brightly, I’ll say, “i am who You say i am” because who better to tell you of your brightness than one who is warmed by your light?
Lately, I’ve felt a call to be more. But I’ve been afraid. To which God graciously responded, “But don’t you know that snowflakes were made to be caught?”
I am that made-to-be-caught Snowflake, and so are you!
Read on to see more of what I’ve been learning!
“But don’t you know that snowflakes were made to be caught? And we’re the only ones who’re afraid as we fall”
I wrote this piece inspired by a speaker at a conference who said, “Good theology makes for good art”. And I began to ponder this and question if my art-by that definition- is good or bad?
I started asking myself, “Why is theology so important in art?”
Well, the answer is simple. Even in my pieces that aren’t as explicitly Christian as the one above, my study of God (theology) informs them. The way I tell stories, my commitment to excellence, my desire to connect with the listener, it’s all inspired by how I see God interacting with the world. Inspired by this revelation I wanted to create a piece of “good art”, and knowing that I needed to create one to present to Spark [art elective in the DTS which I co-lead], I thought about what I’d been seeing to be true of God lately. The truth of it is this: that He calls us higher than we can soar alone, our wings are weak in comparison to the winds that whip us into submission- He calls us deeper than we can reach without Him- He the breath in our oxygen tank that enables us to continually go deeper. What is a scuba diver capable of without breath? He calls us to be stronger than we can imagine absent His influence on our lives, and so I wrote a piece about this. I spent 36 hours locked away in my room writing, feeling the pulse of the heart of God, how persistently He calls us, and how strongly His desire for us to answer this call.
“Come to me! I’ve come down to you that I might raise you up with me! Arise, mighty valiant warrior!”, He calls us just like He called Gideon.
This year I have been called to Radiance. To shine; a light among darkness, and moreso than ever before.
I am intimidated by this. Afraid. But like the snowflake I speak of “We’re the only one’s who are afraid as we fall”. God, in His faithfulness is going to catch me. He- the oxygen in my tank, the strength in my wings, the courage behind my conviction.
This year is going to be an exercise in abiding in the truth that I am made to be caught, and that He calls us to nothing wherein His presence is not. He is with me.
A couple Mondays ago I experienced a minor crisis, I was left alone to teach the first night of Spark. Due to poor weather the rest of my team was unable to come and I was stressed because it was a very sudden change that I was unprepared for.
In my franticity God told me to go outside in just my socks.
But it had been snowing all day! WHY WOULD YOU HAVE ME DO THAT?!?!
I didn’t understand why He asked me to do it, so I questioned Him and He told me that I wouldn’t understand until I did it. Fine. I submitted and went outside barefoot and stood in the snow.
You know how when you wash fruit you’re allegedly supposed to do it with cold water because cold water allegedly shocks the fruit or something? Yeah well I was fruit standing in the cold snow shocked clean of my worries as I so clearly heard His comforting voice say to me, “I am closer than the cold on your feet.”
I walked back in, eased and comforted into confidence and faith. He is with me.
Long story short, the night went fine and fluid. Less structured than what was planned, but from the lemons came lemonade. Yum. And amidst my fall, He caught me.
The winter DTS is off to a booming start, I am co-leading Spark which is the art elective and I’m so excited to be involved with these students! 7 girls who are all excellent creatives and all learning to intertwine their faith with their creativity! It’s so delightful to watch their process of integration!!
I am living at the Phos House [YWAM Madison’s campus ministry house] and this year I am not staffing there, just living, which is nice as I feel more free to engage relationally with the students. But I am leading a friday morning Small Group! The year is off to a great start!
Last year I was a student in the BSN and this year I am staffing the BSN (Bible School for the Nations)!! Woo!!! Just got the news like 5 minutes ago, y’all, I’m so excited.
This is a poem I wrote for a friend of mine and she turned it into this!
Bobby Buckets aka Matthew Charles with the clean fade
Kimono goodbye pics are the sauciest
[Hiro and Mayumi departed from YWAM Madison back to Japan!]
Hiro’s last night in Madison. Pic ft Manuel, me, and Hiro @ The Decent Dane
My nephew Wes and I in Saint Louis
My sister Rebecca and I in Saint Louis!
My good friend Timia who I met in South Africa during DTS outreach 2 years ago came to visit me in Madison! We had a great time catching up! Love you, friend!
Mike and Maya’s [MFB] Wedding reception! I got to give a speech!!
I am looking to establish a creative presence online through instagram and facebook, sharing my poems, and in order to effectively do that I need an iphone 7 [For the excellent camera it boasts]. In the next couple of months I am hoping to be able to purchase or have somebody donate to me an iphone 7.
I have been very tired, and lacking energy lately. Please pray for endurance and a desire in me to see Christ’s strength revealed through my weakness.
Spark is off to a great start! You can pray for the students as each day they are being discipled, encouraged, strengthened, and reformed, that they would continue to press in fervently, receiving all that Father has in store for them!
I’ve got some creative projects I’m working on and need people to come alongside of me. Please pray that the right people partner with me and catch the vision and do so at a relatively low financial price to myself LOL.
Relationships in Phos House to continue to be strengthened and delve into new areas of intimacy, that we can truly be a Christ-like community.
Pray that God reveals Himself to me in powerful ways and I am faithful to continue to seek conviction and conformation to the image He made me to, as I am studying in prep for BSN
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