Submission deadline: July 29th (we will be posting contributions throughout the month as we receive them)
This month we’re doing something a little different with our conversation. Instead of writing on a predetermined theme or responding to a prompt, we’re asking you to share something you’re excited about with us! Whether you’re learning something new, or you recently had an experience that shifted something for you, or there’s an issue or idea you’re eager to discuss, or you have a lot of knowledge to share about a niche topic, or there’s a story you’ve been itching to tell–we want to hear about it! What is keeping you engaged with life and passionate about learning, living, and loving this summer?
Keep in mind that we’ll accept any artform or medium that we can figure out how to share on this website, so feel free to send in reflections, essays, creative writing, visual art, videos, etc.
We are so excited to learn from you all and see what you’re passionate about! Please contact us with any questions or concerns at email@example.com, and please review our submission guidelines before submitting your work.
Mental Health, Faith, and Stigma
Submissions deadline: April 29th
For most of my first year of college, I was very depressed. I was exhausted all the time, it was difficult to focus or motivate myself, I didn’t feel excited about things I usually felt excited about, I often felt numb and wanted to just not exist for a while, and when I didn’t feel numb my emotional responses to both good and bad things were unpredictable. At the time I didn’t really know how to talk about it. I was scared and felt like a burden to the people around me. I knew that maybe I needed help, but didn’t really know how to go about getting it. Plus, I felt guilty that I was struggling so much when, on paper, my life looked pretty great.
I now know that the experience I’ve had with episodic depression isn’t uncommon. In fact, 1 in 4 adults has a diagnosable mental illness. That doesn’t even take into account people who never get professionally diagnosed, or people who struggle with chronic stress or other mental states that aren’t diagnosable, but that can still weigh us down. Unfortunately, mainstream American culture doesn’t prioritize mental health and, despite its prevalence, mental illness is stigmatized–causing people with mental illnesses to feel isolated, rejected, or unvalued. We see this stigma everywhere: when people make jokes about mental illness, when people criticize others for being dependent on medication that provides the chemicals that their brains fail to produce naturally, when people call people who they disagree with “crazy,” the list goes on and on. In some Christian circles we also face the assumption that mental illness is a sign of weak faith or sin. The stigma around mental health is undeniably harmful.Many people never seek help for their mental illness because the stigma around it promotes feelings of shame and guilt. It casts mental illness as a personality flaw or condition that makes some people worth less that others. These false assumptions can be combated by affirming the truths about mental illness (for example, that it does not affect the worth or value of a person) and by sharing honestly about our own mental health struggles, whether we’ve been diagnosed with a long-term mental illness, or we find ourselves often feeling anxious, worried, or stressed. Normalizing the idea that humans need time, energy, and resources to support their mental health serves all of us.
So, this month we’re going to be discussing our experiences with mental health, stigma, and where faith fits into the messy process of figuring out what kind of support you need to be your healthiest, fullest self. Below are some questions to get you going, keep in mind that the value of your thoughts and reflections on this topic come from your experiences, not from your ability to say the “right” thing.
–What is your mental health story and what has it taught you about yourself, the world, or God?
–What have you learned that you need in order to work towards health and wholeness in your life? How are you trying to give yourself that?
–Have you had to ask for help in your mental health journey? How did that feel? What did you learn from it?
–Where do you see connections or interactions between your mental health and your spirituality?
–How have you been aware of stigma in your mental health journey? How have you worked to de-stigmatize your relationship with mental illness?
–Where have you found sources of support and comfort?
–How has your mental health journey challenged your faith or perception of God?
–What are your hopes for ways that we, as followers of Jesus, can support one another and embrace those who feel the pain of stigma and isolation?
–How do you work to counteract the narratives that suggest that our worth lies in what we produce and how high we can function? How have you worked to remind yourself of your inherent value and that your mental health journey is blessed and important, even if the dominant narrative doesn’t value it?
As always, these questions merely serve as ideas to get you thinking about our theme. Feel free to answer many of them, or none of them in your reflection on this topic. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns, and be sure to check our submission guidelines before submitting your contribution.
February 2017: Faithful Resistance
Submissions due on February 26th.
Last weekend I marched with thousands of people through downtown San Francisco as we grieved for our country and reminded ourselves of our collective power. In the past few years I have become increasingly aware of the terrible oppression and stark injustices that exist in our country. My anger and concern have increased since realizing that a large portion of my fellow (white, protestant) Christians have elected to grant considerable power to someone I see as directly opposed to much of what Jesus had to say about love, compassion, mercy, truth, and justice. Jesus routinely challenged oppressive power structures and resisted evil both inside and outside himself. What does resistance look like to you politically, personally, spiritually?
What actions are you taking to continue fighting to bring the kingdom of God to the world around you?
How do you stay hopeful and determined in the face of hardships, oppression, and worry?
Who do you look to as role models for Jesus-like resistance?
What is your hope for how we can act and organize to show love and light to those around us through what feels like a very dark time to some of us?
What calls to action do you feel right now?
How have you determined (or how are you determining) what justice/resistance work to focus your energies on?
There is lots of talk about “coming together” and “uniting” during this time, what does that mean to you? How do you feel about these kinds of entreaties?
Please check our submissions page for guidelines about written and visual submissions, and don’t hesitate to email us with your questions and comments at email@example.com.
November/December 2016: Loving Across Difference
The submission deadline has been pushed back until December 28th!
We live in an incredibly diverse world filled with billions of people who each hold beautiful and complex pieces of the divine within themselves. However, historically humans don’t always have a great track record with embracing difference and diversity. If learning how to love people well means learning how to love people despite, or even because of, our perceived differences, how do we do that? What does that process look like?
In scripture we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, a radical and integral teaching that is consistently modeled for us in the life of Jesus. It is relatively easy to show love to people who are similar to us, but as Christians we are called to love people we don’t understand, and to break down the barriers that we set up in order to stay comfortable. We are called to put away our assumptions and engage with people whose backgrounds and worldview may be vastly different from our own.
Below are some questions to get you thinking about loving across difference and what that looks like for you. Feel free to reflect on one or many of these in your submission, or to share another question or thought that you this prompt brought up for you. Please check our submissions page for guidelines about written and visual submissions, and don’t hesitate to email us with your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–How do you show love to people who anger you? What is challenging or conflicting to you about loving your people you disagree with? How are you processing that?
–What does it mean to show love to people who don’t want it?
–How can we show love to people we will never meet? What does it mean to love people in a broad sense instead of in individual interactions?
–How is loving others a call to action, and how have you tried to respond to that call?
–What are some ways you like to show love to people?
–What is the Church’s role in love? Is it actively doing that?
–What does it mean to love people well, but also to stand up for what is right, especially when those two things seem to present a conflict? How do calling out injustice and encouraging people to examine their roles in unjust systems fit into our practices of loving one another in our interpersonal relationships?
–How have you challenged yourself to love and learn about people (individuals and groups) who are different from you?
October, 2016: Faith and Politics
Submissions are due on Friday October 28th.
This month we thought it would be appropriate to delve into a relevant and complicated topic: faith and politics. We realize that this is a potentially charged topic, but we think that recognizing how politics fit into our faith (and vice versa) is an important part of learning to engage with the world in a way that reflects God’s love. Because this is a subject about which people have intense feelings, we want to remind you to adhere to our conduct guidelines and refrain from insulting or alienating people groups or identities in your responses. We’d love to hear your thoughtful reflections about your relationship with politics and faith.
Below are some questions to get you started, if you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com.
–What is your relationship with politics like? Do you consider yourself a political person? Why or why not? What (about your faith) motivates you to be politically involved or to withdraw from politics?
–What questions (if any) do you have about how to engage with politics in intentional ways?
–How have you engaged with local or national political organizing and actions? What was that like? Why did you choose to get involved?
–How does your faith inform your political leanings and action? What are the good truths of the gospel that you seek to uphold in your personal politics?
September 2016: On Being Relational Beings
Submission Deadline: Sunday, September 25th
As human beings we are relational creatures. From the minute we’re born until we die we’re creating connections between ourselves and the people around us. The relationships we cultivate can feed our souls or drain our energy; they can encourage us to be our best selves, or coax our shadow selves to the forefront of our self-expression; they can make us feel safe, or trapped. Because our interactions with other people make up so much of our lives, these connections play an important role in shaping our sense of self and our perception of the world and our place in it.
How have the relationships in your life shaped your understanding of the world?
How do they influence how you experience yourself and/or your relationship with God?
What kinds of insight have the people in your life provided about God and life?
How have your relationships affected your self-perception?
What have you learned about yourself as a relational being?
What have your relationships with friends, family, and significant others taught you about the nature of God?
As creatures with a great capacity for recognizing and valuing relationships, how are we called to act in our relationships with the planet and the other creatures who inhabit it?
How do expectations about the relationships in your life shape your experience and view of them?
How do the relationships in your life inspire you to live, act, and love?
As always we encourage you to share your stories and experiences and to only focus on as much or as little of the topic as is helpful for you right now. As with many of our topics this is a broad theme, so feel free to just pick one question, story, or relationship to share about in your art or writing.
If you have any questions please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to review our submission guidelines to see if your question is answered there! We look forward to hearing from you!
August 2016: Calling and Purpose
Submission deadline: Friday, August 26th
This month we’ll be discussing ‘calling’, that illusive, divine pull towards a vocation or way of living that many of us feel or hope to feel, especially in seasons of transition and discernment. In the following paragraph our editor, Brent, shares some of his thoughts and feelings about ‘calling’:
I have seen people follow what they found as their divine calling and it is a completely beautiful thing that is filled with inexplicable joy. But, frankly, the word ‘calling’ gives me chills. I associate it with an unsatisfied goal that I don’t have the context or knowledge to even pursue. We hear people talk about finding your ‘calling’ in life. Or maybe they explain how they found theirs. But often times the line of divine calling and personal goals, to me, seems to get blurred easily. Here is what I mean: I think humans have a deep-seeded desire to matter in this world. I also think that that looks like something different for every person. But, at what point–if ever–do our own desires turn into what we think God’s plan for us is? Or vice-versa. In contrast, there also seems to be times when, on paper, certain events in my life wouldn’t be seen as God’s plan had I mapped out my life prior to their occurrence, but a few of those moments completely changed the trajectory of my life-I think for the better. God’s plan for us is deeply complex, so how do we decipher the noise of this world and our loud desires and listen well to what is our true purpose might be?
Regardless of what your relationship with calling is like, we want to hear about your experiences. Below are some questions to get you started, but feel free to to share whatever comes to you about the role (or lack thereof) that ‘calling’ plays in your life.
-Have you felt called to certain things in your life? What has that looked like, how has it felt?
-Is ‘calling’ and illusive concept for you? How else have you learned to think about your purpose in life?
-What is God’s true ‘calling’ for us as his children?
-How can we create space to understand our perceived calling (or become open to radical changes to our daily life)?
-How can we begin to discern between our own desires and God’s?
-What are ways we can learn how to nurture personal dreams and explore our calling?
-What if our idea of God’s calling for us doesn’t work out? How do we continue to trust that his plan is more complex than we will ever know?
As always, please review our submission guidelines and please send any questions you might have to email@example.com!
July 2016: Identity and Story
Submission deadline: July 24th
Whether we’re aware of it or not we’re constantly defining ourselves and others based on the stories we’ve been told and the stories we tell about the world around us. We all have internalized scripts that shape our behavior and our assumptions about other people. While these scripts can serve a purpose in helping us to build our understanding of the world, they can also become unproductive and rigid, preventing us from living in peace with ourselves and one another.
We’re curious about how you’re processing and interacting with the stories that are integral to your identity and sense or self. Obviously our questions this month are pretty personal, feel free to share as much or as little as you’d like, and remember that you’re welcome to write creatively (short stories, poetry, etc) if that helps you communicate your thoughts and your story in the best way.
Here are some questions to kick-start your reflections:
–What kinds of stories do you tell yourself that shape your identity and sense of self? What types of characters do you find yourself consistently casting yourself as?
–How do these stories and characters help or hinder you in living into the truth of your belovedness?
–How have stories you’ve been told and the messages you’ve received about the world and your role in it from your community or society as a whole shaped your identity and self-perception?
–How do the stories you tell and the stories you’ve been told shape your interaction with others?
–How does your ability to be at peace with your own stories and identity affect your ability to meet others with a sense of peace?
–What is holding you back from peace with yourself and peace with those who are different from you?
–Have you ever tried to consciously shift the stories you tell yourself? What was that like?
–What kinds of stories do you think are helpful to tell yourself, what truths help you to ground your relationship with God, self, and others?
As always please email us at ignitedmag.com if you have any questions! If you would like to receive support with your writing (proof-reading, editorial notes, etc) please submit your work at least three days before the deadline and specify what kind of support you’d like.
June 2016: Spiritual Practice
Submissions due on June 24th.
As young adults, many of us are taking ownership of our faith in new ways. For some of us it’s the first time in our lives where we’re not following someone else’s plan for our spiritual engagement. Instead of following the rhythms suggested and modeled by our parents, youth pastors, or church communities, we have the freedom to experiment and discover which modes of engaging our spirituality best suit our personal needs and wants.
This may mean exploring completely new spiritual practices or delving into the “whys” of what we’ve always done in order to understand and define it for ourselves. Either way, we are presented with the challenge and opportunity of cultivating our personal relationship with faith and learning more about ourselves and our spirituality.
Daily practices like reading the Bible or setting aside time for prayer are familiar to many of us, however our definition of spiritual practice extends to any daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly practice that helps you to be present to God, yourself, and/or the world around you. Spiritual practices are not one-size fits all. Although there are a few activities that are often cast as staples for a Christian lifestyle, finding what resonates with you and helps you to feel connected spiritually can be hugely liberating and fulfilling.
This month we want to hear about your experiences with spiritual practice. Below are some guiding questions, but feel free to reflect and respond in whatever way you are inspired to do so.
How have you experimented with taking ownership of your faith and rhythms?
What practices have you found that resonate with you? What makes them helpful?
What practices just don’t do it for you? Why?
Have you discovered practices that surprised you or made you think about your spirituality differently?
How important is rhythm to you? Is it more helpful for you to be scheduled with your practices, or to be spontaneous?
How would you like to see your relationship with spiritual practice shift and grow?
Do you feel like other people share and understand your practices?
Are shared practices important to you? What has your journey to find community to practice with been like so far?
Why is spiritual practice important to you? What do you get out of it?
As always we encourage you to keep your reflections and responses rooted in your own experiences and discoveries. We’re less interested in how you think people should engage in spiritual practice, and much more interested in learning how you engage in spiritual practice! As always, please contact us with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
April 2016: Faith and Justice
Submissions due April 27th.
“He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8
We believe God calls us to connect our faith to issues of social justice not just by thinking about social justice, but by actually taking action. This often means operating out of our comfort zones to love our neighbors and to stand up for what is right.
One aspect of social justice is learning how to come to terms with one’s social identity. This often requires many years of actively learning history, practicing introspection, and refuting common stereotypes. The master narrative told in our society strays away from the unpleasant truths of our country’s tarnished past and present. Christians and non-Christians alike continue to discriminate against people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, and numerous other minorities.
The lack of awareness surrounding colonialism, and institutional and cyclical oppression has caused people who are not victims of oppression to become numb it. As people who want to form our lives around Christ, we are called to combat systems of oppression and to work to eradicate them. However, figuring out how to work towards justice and greater wholeness in our world can requires wrestling with a lot of questions and hard truths. This month we invite you to wrestle with us by answering one or more of the following questions in your submission:
1. How have you seen God at work through social justice? How have you felt his presence in those moments/places?
2. What are ways that we can challenge ourselves to work towards social justice issues all around the world? What should we add or subtract from our lives in order to contribute social justice issues?
3. What is your relationship with social justice like? How have you come to terms with your social identity and its implications? How would you like to continue to grow as someone with a heart for justice?
4. What is difficult for you about engaging in social justice work and working towards an increased awareness of systemic injustice?
5. How can we, as a community, participate in social justice in the Ignited Collective group?
(If none of these strike your fancy, we would still love to hear about your experiences and ideas regarding social justice.)
Please review our submission guidelines and ensure that your submission follows them. If you have any questions please send us an email at email@example.com!
March 2016: Sustainability
NOTE the March due date for Submissions has been pushed back to March 31st due to Spring break and midterms (which affect many of our contributors as well as the editors).
As followers of Jesus we have a deep desire to do good in the world and to live well in our personal lives. We long to see God’s light in the world and aspire to be a manifestation of the love of our Creator. However, these things are much easier said than done.
This month we’re discussing and reflecting upon how we can interact with world in sustainable ways. To us, this means thinking about what God’s vision for the world is and how we can contribute to that by living in a way that positively affects the people we share the world with and future generations. It also means looking within ourselves and discovering what sustains us, what feeds our souls, and how our lifestyles impact our emotional and spiritual health.
Some guiding questions for reflecting on this theme are: What does living with an awareness of both of these kinds of sustainability look like to you? What are practices you’ve employed to help you live into God’s vision for the world and/or for you personally? What have you learned about trying to balance the desire to bring God’s light to the world, and your personal needs and heart-longings? What is the relationship between finding inner sustainability and contributing to global sustainability?
As always we are interested in your unique experiences and perspective, rather than generalizations or didactic ideas. What is your relationship with sustainability?
Please review our submission guidelines and ensure that your submission follows them. If you have any questions please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
February 2016: Faith, Doubt, and Struggle
Submissions due February 18th.
This month we are discussing faith, doubt, and struggle. We believe that our faith is an active relationship with God, not just a set of morals and rituals. Our individual relationships with God, like any other relationships in our lives go through periods of complication, distance, and even contention. Think back to a time in your life where you felt disconnected from God. What did that feel like? How have you come to understand those periods of struggle in the context of the larger picture of your spirituality? How have those times affected your relationship with God and with the other people in your life? What brings you back to awareness of your closeness with the Creator? If you currently feel like you’re in a period of disconnect, struggle, or distance from God, what does that feel like? What helps you to ground yourself during this time? How are you seeking to be in relationship with God even through doubt and difficulty?
This month we challenge you to share about a time of spiritual struggle through narrative and storytelling. Whether you submit written work or visual art, we are interested in learning more about your specific journey and story, so keep your sharing rooted in personal experience. We believe that this is more powerful than generalizations in allowing us to connect with and understand one another. Feel free to explore how you might want to tell your story. Do you want to use first person narrative? Third person? Do you want to explore this theme throughout your life or look at once specific chapter of it? (As with any prompt, you do not need to answer every question listed, just the one or ones that speak to you.)
Please review our submission guidelines and ensure that your submission follows them. For this month, our upper word limit is more flexible than usual because we do not want to cut short your storytelling. If you have any questions please send us an email at email@example.com!