I remember one Sunday morning I did this drawing I was so proud of.
“A Goofy Movie” was in theaters at the time and I was (and still am) a huge fan of Disney’s “Goof Troop.” And, being a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the TMNT ’87 turtles that is, I merged the characters from both “Goof Troop” and “A Goofy Movie” along with the Ninja Turtles as they fought to keep the Shredder from destroying a major city.
I showed it to my dad.
“Nobody cares about that…,” my dad responded with disdain.
What was an incredible 11-year-old boyish excitement and pride over an achievement I thought was difficult turned into a deep sense of disappointment, sadness, and shame. I could tell you the exact place I stood in that sanctuary as I quietly stared at my drawing, my head drooped downward looking towards my picture and the crimson red carpet of a church filled with people rushing out the door to make it to Sunday lunch.
I think it was that moment I sort of stopped drawing. I had what I often tell people, “a black-out period” where I never touched another pencil or pen to doodle again.
It wouldn’t be until 2005 that I would decide to stop running away from the calling of being a cartoonist.
I began creating again in my adult years as soon as distance from my dad allowed such an opportunity. I would later come up with a webcomic chronicling a part of my childhood. But even after that it would still be years before I dared to draw again inside of a sanctuary after suffering such a blow at 11-years-old.
Interestingly enough, the connection of art and the church deepened as I made a point to study the Bible for myself and build a personal relationship with God. I observed the art of storytelling as done by Jesus through parables. I recognized messages, ideas and commentary that came not only from the scripture but from cartoons, comics and movies that I loved, all which seemed to make me come back to the scriptures in an effort to understand humanity.
All of this combined to help me better communicate through art and story. But, it also served as an opportunity for deep healing and removal of bitterness, confusion, pain and anxiety.
What for some would’ve been a cue to leave the church due to lack of love for the artist in me turned into an opportunity to let God Father me and make me a better writer and cartoonist.
Just recently, I discovered that some people are actually taking notes of sermons and messages by creating illustrations for them in journals and books. The same strategy is also being used by some businesses and groups.
I actually gave it a try this past Sunday and came out with really good first time results.
I intend to sketch more of my notes during the sermons in an effort to try out this new note-taking strategy. I love taking notes when a minister is giving a message and I think that this will actually help me keep my notes organized.
Not only that, but this gives me an opportunity to share powerful and poignant messages through the creative expression of sketch note taking. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a doodle here and there too.
And yes, I am paying close attention to what is being said. Much like I take my creative work seriously, I take the experiences of drawing closer to God and Christ and the Bible just as serious. I often tell people, whether they agree with me or not, that that has been my lifeline to keep going and to create good content.
I kept going even when people who were supposed to be loving and supportive and affirming “didn’t care.” I was later affirmed by many others who do and for that I’m both humbled and grateful.
On Sunday Mornings I now have my Bible and sketchbook. Funny…I used to leave my sketchbook at home.