Some of you may remember the original “Vanz Set Free” blog that I had started in 2013. It was meant to document a 3 week fast I was doing with my church. At the time, I had recently started saying that Jesus Christ was my savior, although I didn’t really know what it meant. I just liked the way the pastor from San Diego I watched on the interweb talked about life and gave me hope that I didn’t have to be drinking and depressed for the rest of my life. It was also starting around the New Year and like I do EVERY year, I promised myself I’d write and paint more. The thing is that perfection is paralyzing, so on my own accord, I wouldn’t write very often and I definitely never shared it with anyone. The blog was an exercise in writing, not thinking, posting, and not editing. I also used a lot of memes. That was more of a distraction to keep you from focusing on how sad my posts actually were. Every time I would sit down to write a new blog post, I’d pray to God, and writing would flow. I actually got a lot of positive feedback from friends and family and even strangers.
Fast forward two years, and my blog took on another form. It was a personal diary of sorts, keeping memories of struggles in my relationship, work, and faith. It was extremely selfish, actually. I was trying so hard to do everything perfectly for my own sake, it’s pretty sad to read back through those old posts. There was a large part of me that sought approval from my readers. My relationship with God was strained. There was a lot of pain there. In 2015, my whole world would crumble when I’d end up in jail for a DUI. While I was there, I did the only thing I knew how to do, and that was write.
While in jail, I prayed for a week before mailing my friend Mike a blog entry I’d written. Mike posted it for me. This went on for a few months and I started getting mail at the jail. Hearing other people’s stories about their struggles with addiction or incarceration or depression really started to encourage me that I wasn’t alone.
When I got out, I wanted to start chronicling my “rehabilitation” and writing, at this point, had become my refuge. It was a place to get closer to God. It was my form of listening to what He was saying. He guided my words. It was like taking dictation. The words flowed. This was also in early recovery, so I was still a hot mess, and writing and painting soothed me.
I’ll spare you the gory details but things got pretty rough and my spiritual life declined. By now, I’d taken on 3 blogs, only one with decent readership (to be clear, I’m only talking about hundreds of views a month, not thousands) and the others I had lost focus on. I chased the feedback and the compliments of what I was doing and forgot the purpose of why I was doing it. Which was to help people. The truth was, I couldn’t help anyone because I couldn’t even help myself.
So here we are. A new Vanz Set Free. A clear road map of what I want to do. A prime Navigator taking me there. It is only through being in connection with God that I’m able to create anything at all. The truth is, I may not be “good” at writing or drawing or creating in general but God put it on my heart anyway and He did that for reasons only He knows. I just work here.