Life Update

Just a few months ago, I graduated with a degree in Film and Media Production from Taylor University. I immediately moved to Chicago indefinitely, planning to eventually end up in Los Angeles. Since the move, I have been pursuing acting while doing freelance video work for clients, including assisting a nine-time Emmy winning filmmaker. 

Due to the success of the documentary I directed, I was recently signed by a staffing agency in Chicago that connects me with companies needing video production and editing work. I have a meeting with a client tomorrow. 

In my free time I have been developing a short film entitled, “A Way” that I will shoot next year after fundraising and pre-production are completed. In hopes of improving the script, I have had it critiqued by various other professionals, which has been immensely helpful. It is a script that I am very excited about and will be putting my best foot forward with this calling card film. To do so, I will be hiring a professional cinematographer, sound designer, visual effects artist, and composer. This way I will be able to focus solely on directing. Collaboration and a strong vision are key to great filmmaking.

In the near future, I will be starting up my own video production company, “Rising City Studios”, and once I am able to raise the funds I will be releasing a new line from “Sleepwalk Clothing.” A lot of fun things on the horizon. Life is good, we’ll see where it takes me.

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“A Way”

Two years ago I was brainstorming ideas for short films and an image popped into my head of two boys building a machine in a field. At the time, I had no idea where to go with it so I wrote it down and forgot about it.

Earlier this year I read through my old journal and something clicked. Images started popping into my head, giving me an idea of where I wanted the story to go but still unsure of how to get there. So I began writing, letting the story play out organically as I wrote. When I got stuck, I either went back to edit or jotted down ideas of what the boys could talk about, what themes I wanted to touch on, etc.

Months passed and after many changes (including major revisions to the ending and the addition of backstory), I believe the screenplay is reaching completion. I am more than excited about it. I hope that the themes interwoven into this oddly unique narrative feel universal and spark conversations when the credits roll. The story touches on themes such as divorce, faith, sacrifice, dependence, and communication.

I hope to shoot the film next summer and will be raising funds to hire a professional cinematographer and sound designer. Keep an eye out for more updates on my Facebook and blog.

When the short is completed, I will work on adapting it into a feature film. That means adding about eighty pages. Much work to be done.

Here is some early art I threw together for the film.

A Way Artwork

“Two brothers run away from home to build a mysterious machine in the wilderness.”

Relentless

When I was young, my parents told me that I may never be the best at anything but that it was important to always try my hardest. So began a decade-long struggle to prove them wrong. I tried a variety of sports and arts and was successful at most of them but there was always someone better and the advice of my parents haunted me. 

I turned to drugs, alcohol, sex, anything to numb my harbored feelings of failure. I lost hope in all the things I once held dear. Family. Friends. God. Love. I was unable to see the beauty in the world around me, much less within myself. Life became a black hole of anger, resentment, and depression.

So I made the decision to end it. To rid those around me of the poison I had become. Over one-hundred sleeping pills and a deep sleep that I thought was my end. I failed.

I awoke to a haze of angels and demons, strapped to a hospital bed where my screams were met with morphine. Eventually, I had to deal with the consequences of my actions, as well as untying the seemingly endless string of knots that made up my mind. Therapy. Hospitals. Cocktails of medication. Loss of friends. Relapses. A dozen more attempts. Anger. Tears. Starting over.

After all of this, I realized that just because something is broken does not mean it can’t be beautiful. Just because I feel alone does not mean that no one cares. I may be lost but I will live for something and I must believe in myself when no one else will. I am broken but I am relentless. I press on. For love. For truth. For beauty. For you.

“Telephone”

He lifts it to his ear,
Biting his lip in anticipation.
He holds his breath and waits
For the string to shake and shiver,
Carrying an unknown message
From one child to another.
The epistle is received
With shrieks and giggles of delight.
Now it is his turn
To send a message
Across the magic string
And into the ear of an excited child,
Wondering how something so small
Can carry such an important message.
Hello, he replies.

The Choice (Levels of Love)

Yes, another post about love. The topic has been on my mind a lot lately.

Many people seem to go through life hoping to “fall in love” but I firmly believe, as do many I have spoken with, that love is a choice. It doesn’t always just happen. We may immediately love certain people more intensely or on more intimate levels but we must choose to love and to stay in love, even if the feelings seem to dissipate or lessen. It must be something we do consciously and intentionally. I’m not talking about false love or being nice for the sake of being nice, I mean genuine, real love. This is difficult and often painful because there is vulnerability involved and the possibility of rejection. But it is a necessary part of life and an even more necessary part of being a Christian.

We must not choose who we love and who we leave out, we must love everyone simply because they were created for a purpose. Like I said, it isn’t easy and is something that I often struggle with. But what I have realized is that I don’t need to intimately and intensely love everyone. There are levels of love and everyone we encounter should automatically fall into one of these levels. Hate and dislike should not be part of our lives; they are nothing but detrimental to others and to ourselves.

My biggest obstacle in this lies in wanting certain people to love me on certain levels, or to communicate their love through certain love languages. What I have had to force myself to acknowledge consciously is that this is not my choice; whether or not others love me and on what level is not up to me, it is their personal choice. But I can choose to what degree I love others and in what way, so my challenge for myself is to be more conscious and intentional with my love for others and for myself.

 This is a challenge I feel was not created by me or for me but was rather placed upon all of us. 

Tagged

Loving to the Appropriate Degree

This is what has been on my mind the most recently.

I recently realized that I have trouble letting people go and moving on. Whether it’s people who have intentionally cut me out of their lives, moved on, or are simply too busy.

You see, when I love someone it is impossible for me to stop loving them. I have always believed this to be a good quality but I have realized how much it hinders my mental well-being. Sometimes I begin to assume that if I don’t see people as much as I used to that they don’t want to see me anymore and I feel left behind and fall into depression. So I love these people from afar and keep silent, sending the occasional text when I feel the need to remind someone that they are loved.

I still see this love as a good quality and a gift and I am never going to stop loving people because that is simply not a possibility, I just need to learn how to love everyone the appropriate amount in order to protect my heart.

I think most of this was caused by a strong distaste for myself. I lacked confidence and despised everything about myself, looking for affirmation from others and found my purpose in making them happy and making sure that they felt loved. But I believe that that love can be healthier and my friendships stronger if I am able to love myself so I can accept the love of others.

This is just part of life, part of growing and learning through experience and it is a lesson I have always known but was unable to put into practice. I am thankful that it is finally becoming a reality and allowing me to feel joy and love again.

Pain and Suffering (New Perspective)

Recently, I became angry and frustrated with God that He wouldn’t take away the deep-rooted pain I feel on a daily basis. Every day is a struggle and He seemed to be doing nothing though I begged Him to to take it away. After seven years of dealing with severe depression, I thought whatever He wanted to teach me through this had been learned. Confusion and anger festered and exploded out of me, forcing me to search elsewhere for a release from my pain. I searched high and low, in people of all sorts, but my hands came up empty.

Why do I continue to stray when I know in my head that He is in complete control? Why do I keep trying to take the wheel and steer? I am a broken person but I am making the choice not to let that hold me back. I will fight for Him and with Him. I will cry when He cries and love because He showed me how. This is all I can do because I am not in control. I am letting go of the wheel, stepping back, and watching my Father work.

Earlier tonight, I came to this realization that shook my entire view on life: I am not my own. These are words we have heard but they finally registered in my heart. This life I’ve been given, the people that I am blessed to have in it, the strength of the love I have for others, are all gifts. Nothing I have in my life has been obtained by my own means. I cannot complain about what God has not given me that He has given others because I don’t deserve anything. God has given me these tools and gifts in order to further His kingdom. I cannot let them go to waste because what I want differs from what He wants. I should want what He wants but up to this point in my life, they have not aligned.

So I am challenging myself. I am working towards becoming a son that my Father would be proud of. Not in an attempt to earn His love, but because I know that I already have His love and am blessed in so many ways.

Another realization I came to was that I cannot compare my life to the lives of others. God challenges different people in different ways in hopes that they will grow from these experiences. The fact that my every day life is a challenge and that I have dealt with more than the average person, is actually a positive thing. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and He knows that I can handle more so He has given me more to handle so that I can reach my full potential. Stagnancy is something that I do not want in my life, so I am choosing to be thankful for this pain, for this suffering, because otherwise I would not be the man I am today. I would not have the emotional maturity that I have or understand others as well as I do. My amount of life experience gives me the tools I need to help others, so I am changing my routine and the amount of love I pour out on others in order to make full use of these tools.

Until now, I have mostly been calling the shots on who I love, but I know that this is not what God intended. I am to love everyone I come in contact with because God loves them. Not for any other reason.

In the end, I know the man that I want to be, and that is simply a follower of the One who created me. I cannot keep running from who I was made to be just because the path is more difficult. It will be worth it, and I have faith in that.

If you would like to know more about my story, you can purchase my memoir, Heart Strings and Soul Surgery at this link:

http://heartstringssoulsurgery.bigcartel.com/

If you go to Taylor University, Ball State University, or Indiana Wesleyan, email me and I can save you the shipping cost by dropping it off myself.

If you would like to talk to me in person, shoot me an email or Facebook message. I love meeting new people and hearing others’ stories.

sean_taylor@taylor.edu

Homosexuality and the Church (Love Without Restraint)

I have wanted to write this for a very long time but haven’t, for one reason or another. But I am finally going to cover the difficult and often avoided topic of homosexuality.

Christians are called to love EVERYONE regardless of their past, present, or future. We all sin and each sin is considered equal, so why do so many Christians get caught up with hating or shunning homosexuals? Yea, I don’t understand either. I have seen my gay friends relinquished of their spiritual leadership due to them coming out of the closet. I have heard sermons condemning homosexuality and discussing it as if it is a disease that can be cured. Yet many of my friends have told me that they knew they were gay from childhood, before sexual urges even kicked in.

Men commonly make gay jokes and make fun of homosexuals. Christian men, nonetheless. True men of God do not judge and are not “homophobic.” Homophobia stems from one of two things: fear of what they do not understand or men being uncomfortable with their own sexuality. Would Jesus have been homophobic? Would he have joked about them? I doubt it. He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors and loved them when no one else would. I often hear the excuse, “I don’t want to support their lifestyle.” By completely removing yourself from their life, shunning them and giving them more of a reason to hate Christians? That’s just nonsensical.

I discussed this with a friend a few years ago and his response was, “I’m not Jesus.” That is not how we should be thinking. We should be asking ourselves, “How can I be more like Jesus?” and attempt to live that way. We all screw up because no one is perfect, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try to live like Him.

If you are a straight person and do not understand homosexuality, let me put it this way for you: imagine every other person you know is gay and being straight is culturally and socially unacceptable. People tell you that you are sick. You need to be fixed. You are twisted. You are less than human.

Think deeply about what that would be like and maybe you will find understanding.

Stop trying to change homosexuals. Stop telling them that they are wrong. You are just as broken as them, though your sins may not be as apparent or socially condemned. God loves every human equally and he asks us to do the same. How difficult is that to understand? LOVE EVERYONE NO MATTER WHAT. NOT BECAUSE YOU WANT TO, NOT BECAUSE YOU AGREE WITH THEM OR THEIR LIFESTYLE, BUT BECAUSE GOD LOVES THEM. That should be enough of a reason.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.”

“Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

Don’t be what society expects from you. Be what God expects from you. We are all children of God and each and every one of us deserve to be treated as such. That includes homosexuals. Love without restraint. I know that when I do this, I am becoming more of the man God intended me to be.

For all of us, it is not about living as “straight” or “gay” or “bi,” it is about living a life of purity, as difficult as it can be. If you screw up, ask for forgiveness and press on.

Do I think homosexuality is wrong? Does it matter? I am simply leaving you with this: don’t judge others and love everyone equally, regardless of their religious views, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. THIS is what God intended when He created us.

Purpose, Hope, and Peace

From the conversations I have had, it seems that a lot of people struggle with knowing God’s purpose for their life. I have struggled with this myself. Why did God want me to transfer to Ball State? What is my purpose here?

The reality is that we have no idea what God has for our futures. All we can do is follow Him, one step at a time, as he reveals it to us. I had a vision once which really resonated with me. I saw life as a staircase covered in fog. I was climbing the stairs but could only see the next step, not the ones beyond.

God has a plan for each of our lives. We are called to be witnesses of His glory, not to convert others or argue with them. Simply to proclaim what He has done in our lives and what He can do for them. He provides a hope that no Earthly thing can. Trust me, when I was an Atheist I searched for meaning everywhere I could but found only emptiness. I filled myself with alcohol and drugs in an attempt to make myself happy but spiraled deeper and deeper into depression. I felt as if I was wandering through darkness for years, with no idea where I was going or why I was alive. That was when the suicidal thoughts became a reality and I attempted to take my own life, multiple times.

Is it really so unnatural for us fallen human beings to want more than what our eyes perceive? God provides that “more.” His love is endless and unceasing and though we may not like what He is doing in our lives, He is doing it for a reason. When I learned how to experience true intimacy with my Father, my eyes were opened. It wasn’t that I was lost in darkness, I just needed to open my eyes and see the beauty in life. The gift that God has given us. We are not a mistake, we were created for a purpose. Each and every one of us. Our lives are fleeting. They are but vapors in the wind. Why live an empty life without Christ and without hope of anything more than what we perceive with our eyes? There is so much more.

Why do bad things happen? Why does God allow us to experience trials and pain? I have learned firsthand that when we hit bottom, we tend to look up. And that is when we see the light. God never left our side or abandoned us. He promises this to us in Hebrews:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

Don’t get caught up in the troubles of this world, focus on what is truly important, proclaiming God’s name and sharing what He has done for us. He died on a cross so that our sins may be forgiven. He endured an insurmountable amount of pain for us. Remind yourself of that daily.

If you are experiencing pain, depression, the sting of loss, or the wonders of purpose, ask God for peace. He will provide it for you. If you don’t believe that He can provide for you or give you joy, then you need to remind yourself that God can do ANYTHING. You are not insignificant. God loves you more than you could ever fathom.

Human love is inconsistent but God’s love is everlasting.

God Rocked Me This Week

First of all, I would like to clarify what I said in my last post. By saying that I was going to guard my heart, I meant that I will be more careful with who I entrust it to, not that it is hardening or that I will not let anyone in. I just love people too much and am hurt too often when they leave or hurt me. One of the many things that God drilled into my mind and heart last night was that I don’t need anyone but Him and that He is jealous of my attention because I have been too dependent on others recently.

A dream I had last week confirmed this. At least I think so.

In the extremely vivid dream, I was kidnapped and thrown into a van. I saw a house out the window and felt a sense of peace about that place. I needed to get there. I jumped out of the moving vehicle, clutching a stack of papers. The van stopped. The kidnappers got out and started chasing me. They were gaining on me because the papers were weighing me down. I dropped them and ran, but immediately felt uncomfortable so I went back to pick them up but was kidnapped again.

I explained this dream to my dad and being the awesome man he is, he gave me his interpretation. “It probably means that you need to leave those bad friends and your past behind and move on.”

As I mentioned before, Saturday night was a rough night. I found out that several of my friends had decided to stop talking to me so I said some things I shouldn’t have and they did so in return. My friend texted me that night asking me how I was doing and I was honest in saying that I was not doing well. She said that I had been on her heart lately and asked if she could send some prophetic encouragement my way so of course I complied. A picture that she had for me was this:

“A little boy and a lone wolf. I felt like you thought you were the wolf, but God’s saying no, you’re the little boy and He’s sent you protection. Don’t be afraid or feel alone. He has not sent you to a ‘wilderness’ to feel alone and see how empty it is but rather to show you how close He is and because He is jealous of your attention.”

That didn’t sink in until last night. I was at small group and the Holy Spirit showed up very heavily, encountering each person in the group so that we just had to sit there and soak it in for over an hour.

I had several visions during that time.

In one, I saw God hugging me. A big hug where he put my head on his shoulder and cradled me like a son. Sitting in a room full of people at my small group, tears began streaming down my face uncontrollably. It wasn’t sobbing, but a soft cry as I was reminded of how much God loves me.

The second vision I had is difficult to describe but means a lot to me. I saw multiple stone slabs hanging from the ceiling. They were blocking my view and were all I could see. On them were images and words relating to my past and things I currently struggle with. At once, they all separated and I walked through. My thoughts ont this are that God doesn’t want anything to come between He and I and that He has the power to take them away.

The final vision that I had was similar to one I had over a year ago at OneThing. God’s hand reached into my chest and pulled out my heart, which had black tar on parts of it. In one swipe, he wiped them away. A cleansing immediately occurred within my heart.

After this night, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. Throughout the past week, God has brought me to a point where I want nothing but Him. Temptations and struggles are fading away and I am content with what He wants to do. I will listen obey. I will follow where He leads.

The Holy Spirit has been moving a lot in me lately and He keeps reminding me of His presence. It is incredible and I am working on carrying the presence with me everywhere I go.

You can experience this too. You can feel the Holy Spirit and hear God’s voice. It is simply a deeper intimacy with God. Ask Him for it. Ask Him to increase your sensitivity to the Spirit and ask Him to reveal Himself to you in new ways. Above all, remember how much He loves you and desires a deeper intimacy with you. You are his child. He loves you and is jealous for you.