Behind-the-scenes: This beautiful soul and I collided when we were both camp counselors in 2013–a magical year. Emily has the zest for life that only a handful of people are given, and it is what draws people to her. She reached out with a strand of hope that she had a story to share; and boy did she. With fierce tenacity, she allowed me to see into the inner workings of her heart and mind…all within 15 minutes. Crazy, right?

Favorite thing about Salem?

“Celebratory mediocrity! What I mean by that is I came from Seattle, where everything is happening and where everyone cares about everything all the time. Salem is a little more sleepy, but it is still dedicated to make it the best Salem. People don’t seem to care as much about the latest social issues or politics of the area, but they are dedicated to making where they are the best it can be.”

 

Why theater?

“Theater to me is a small example of what the body of Christ is holistically capable of. At the end of a theater production, everyone has a different role, different meaning, and a different part that they play. Some are more visible than others; but, in the end, they all equally come together to create something that is magical. It is beautifully unique.  It will never happen again because you never see the same play twice. And, what makes that play happen is trust in each other, passion for ones role, and dedication to ones role.

I may not be able to see all the beautiful things that the body of Christ is capable of, but I can be a witness to it in this small area.”

 

 

Going off of the connection between theater and the church, what is your favorite thing about Jesus?

“One of the things I love about Jesus is He made me who I am. This is going to sound weird, but He is not afraid of me.

I am very bright, loud, overbearing kind of person. Most of my life I have been told, “Emily, can you sit down? Can you be quiet please? Shh.” But, what I have noticed now-days is Jesus created me to be that way. He wants me to use who I am to bring Him glory and to point people back to Him. I love in a very passionate, honest kind of way and that is an aspect of Him He wants me to share.

Also, He is big enough for me to wrestle with.

He needs me to take a step in obedience, but He also wants me to ask Him questions.  He wants me to know why. He wants me to wrap my head and my heart around it, so I can be fully on His team. So, I do not live in denial of God leading me on a path that is frustrating me.

Instead, I step out in obedience, but I also wrestle with Him. I have gone through many a dark night of the soul, trying to wrestle with what God wants from me or why He has brought me to a certain place. But, that always happens because I take a step out in the safety of obedience. Every time I step in obedience with Him, it is safety. He isn’t human, so He won’t let me down like humans will. The same risk doesn’t exist.”

 

 

 

Since you referenced betrayal and relationship, how have relationships changed your life?

“I am recognizing that I am never a passive-receiver in relationship. Relationship is a give and a take. My parents divorce when I was in my junior year of college, after seven years of insane conflict… helped me realize my parents “failed” in the sense that they were human and made mistakes. And, I am still called to love them anyway because I am a human and I make mistakes.

If I want people to love me through my mistakes, then I need to love other people through theirs.

Another one of the beautiful things I am learning now is if I am called to be in a relationship with someone, whether it’s a friend, my boyfriend, or my parents, I am called to serve them…even when I don’t feel like I am getting something out of it. There are obviously limits to that; but, Christ doesn’t get a lot out of me, and He loves me anyway. I am just a human, just a creation. And He had that servant outpouring at all times.”

 

 

Where have you needed healing in your own life?

“To me, in a family that was very co-dependent, I always struggled with the idea of ‘love is freedom.’ I wrote something down and it succinctly says what I want to say: ‘Love says, “When you are with me, you are free. You are not free from me, for I am neither an annoyance nor an affliction. But, you are free to be honest. You are free to be loved unconditionally. And, you are free to be safe with me.’”

 

 

For someone struggling to feel purpose, what would you tell them?

“I think, honestly, you need to go back to the dreams of your childhood. Whether you wanted to be a truck driver or a baker or a Disney princess, we all had dreams. If you have lost that purpose, then it could be you have forgotten how to dream. Whether or not the dream you have now is the same one as when you were young, God is the giver of beautiful dreams.

 

 

EXTRA: What part of your story did you want to share with people?

“I feel like you weirdly got it all, just in the questions you had.”

“I want people to know that every part of them is safe with God.”

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