Credit: Amy Guth on Flickr via Creative Commons

Credit: Amy Guth on Flickr via Creative Commons


When I was twenty-one years old I stumbled upon a series of crazy, colorful, handwritten books by an author who called herself SARK. They had titles like Eat Mangoes Naked, The Ultimate Nap Book, and Succulent Wild Woman. The explosion of colors and doodles drew me in. Between the covers I discovered a language I was unfamiliar with as she spoke of “radical self care,” being “best friends with yourself,” and the divinity of lounging. I devoured several of the books in quick succession, and even got a few friends to read them as well. At first her words were like beacons of light breaking through a heavy cloud of shame, self-loathing, and creative anemia. However it didn’t take long for my uptight Christian mind to begin to trip on concepts like self-worth and cultivating creativity and living wildly as yourself. These thoughts and practices felt so…indulgent. A Good Christian is to sacrifice herself, put herself below others, lay down her life and passions at the cross, give away her gifts. A Good Christian Woman is also meant to be quiet and humble, not self-promoting or trying to find “her voice.” What’s the point in finding a voice if you aren’t supposed to use it? Once I got to the part about the health of self-sexuality it all became too scandalous. I gave all my books (I thought) to a friend who was much more “New Age-y) than myself and closed the SARK chapter of my life. Creative freedom and self-love just didn’t seem appropriate for a Good Christian.

A lot has changed in the thirteen years since I first discovered SARK. I no longer believe in the Good Christian myth, because I’ve seen so many varieties of faithful, beautiful, loving, holy Jesus followers that I simply can’t find an equation to plug them all into. I definitely no longer believe in the Good Christian Woman myth. I’ve lived through the oppression, suffocation, and decaying of the kind of Christianity I used to ascribe to, the one that denied all the color and flavor and scandal and grit and dirt and risk and beauty of the Jesus actually found in the Gospels. God has convinced me that beauty is one of the most important aspects of His personality, which is why we can see it absolutely everywhere. He’s convinced me that Jesus making all things new includes me, that truth setting captives free includes me in all my bondage of fear and shame and hatred. I feel His presence so much more clearly when I am using my voice than when I tried to swallow it down. The more music I hear, the more notes He sends me. This world is a beautiful, broken, musical, hard place to live, and He is in it all.

Last week I was rearranging a book shelf and found two SARK books I forgot I had. One is a journal and play book, with lots of prompts and white space to play with. I had only filled a few pages – one where I was to describe my perfect place and another to list everything I wanted, from a new pen to world peace. As I looked through these two exercises I saw the dreaming of a very young version of myself, and was surprised to find that I had actually achieved some of the dreams I’d claimed back then. I so often look through my history and see the repeated failures, frustrations, and disappointments. Rarely do I glimpse through that history and find threads of redemption, of love, of creativity, or of growth. SARK gave me that gift in a way I’ve never received before.

I’ve since read two more books with another few on the way. I’ve picked up some markers and colored pencils to try to fill a few more of the journal pages. And I’ve been excited to share her work with some friends once again. If you are longing for creative nourishment, a mentor in self-care, or just a dose of positive encouragement I strongly recommend picking up a SARK book. Good Christians may be a bit scandalized, but I believe it will be well worth it.

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