Oli’s story: the actor

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If I were to be truly honest, my pursuing an acting career was not owing to the reasons that I had given five years ago. If you’d have asked me why I had decided to go down the route of the dramatic arts my response would have been that it was my niche, I enjoyed the exhilaration of being on stage, it was a great medium of self expression, and that it was a gift I felt competent in. To an extent, all of these were and still are true for me; it is genuinely a pleasure in finding outlets for creativity and the arts is a great communicator of this but like I said, if I was truly honest about my intentions of aspiring for the stage, the answer would have been far less grandiose and ultimately more piteous: My deep unappeasable desire for acceptance.

Much as I could deny, avoid, or reject this rather humiliating revelation, this I had to admit was the grand impetus behind my pursuits and dreams as an actor. Fantasies of applause, awards and recognition aren’t necessarily indications of desiring to cultivate your craft, but they are the natural outflow of an unfulfilled heart seeking completion in something finite. This is true for anything. How many actors, artists and musicians seeking to cultivate their talents wouldn’t admit that a great portion of their efforts were spent not in enjoying satisfaction of good work or affecting people positively but rather to find for themselves deep validation? And how many of us could sincerely say that our pursuits haven’t at one time or another fallen drastically short of filling the void for our need for acceptance? The truth of this really hit home when after many years of soul searching and not a few rejections from the industry I was desperate to feel I belonged to, the pangs of an unmet need for approval brought me to a place of desperation and disheartenment whereby I decided I needed to leave acting.

This ended my career as a dramatist but by no means made the gnawing feeling for recognition go away. After trying to find self-worth in other areas-family, relationships, other employment etc- and searching for meaning in these quite noble things and finding even them to return void, I began to realise that this desire for acceptance was beyond material cure. There was nothing that could fill this insatiable chasm that had dominated my every move for years. It was a God-shaped hole.

I was by no means living any type of religious life except one of obligatory prayer to a distant God I knew once. By no means would I have wanted to submit myself to One whose acceptance of me I debated as being entirely wholehearted. Nevertheless, hearing of Someone who promises to love us, be with us always even unto the end of the world, who cares for the dejected, rejected and prodigal stray sheep was for me a wondrous invitation to acceptance and love. There were no auditions with Jesus, no bad reviews, no rejection letters, no criticisms. It was just open, welcoming acceptance.

Submitting to Christ for me was liberation from my ties to the world and its requisites and judgments. I was learning that the Lord by his grace gives us talents, not to swell up our own pride or elevate us, but to be used for the praise of His infiniteness, for us to be creative in our devotion and thanks to Him. I was free to enjoy the gifts that God had given me, with no fear of being held under scrutiny or critique, but because it delighted Him to see his servant using to the fullness what was given him. That’s the way it is, the way it was always meant to be.

I have no reservations about the acting industry, I’m thankful and still believe that it was His will to craft me into a performer of sorts, although I’m uncertain where He’ll lead me or what are His plans for me in the arts. I don’t doubt the Lord gave me as a gift expression through drama, but when not founded in His acceptance of us and not directed to His glory as show of our love to Him, it is reduced to trying to fill- and hopelessly failing in the process- that chasm of our own deep seated desire to be accepted and loved and understood. Jesus offers that. It is meant to be filled by Jesus. It’s through Him that I find it.

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