If you could do anything
What would it be? We were all asked this question in Kindergarden. I know my answer has changed since then, as many of ours has. I can recall my little brother saying that he wanted to be an ice cream man!
My answer came clear to me at around 13, the day I got my first camera. From that day on, I knew I was in love with photography. Later on, when asked what I wanted to do in life, I said, “I want to be a travel photographer”.
Let me tell you though, that dream has been through it’s share of criticism, challenge and disappointment. By, college, I was convinced that this dream was just too big for a number of reasons:
-too much competition
-photography is an expensive “hobby”, where on earth will you get the money for travel? Gear? Etc.
-you will be a starving artist, settle for something here that is steady and has benefits
“Ok, you know, you’re right”, I said. “That sounds so overwhelming. I don’t even know where to start.” I ended up majoring in graphic design in college, thinking that with this profession I could at least have a steady job that is art related. Not that I don’t enjoy design as well, but I eventually came to realize that it just wasn’t my passion. I am a firm believer in pursuing what you are passionate about. I have seen amazing things that have been done when the person involved is truly passionate about what they are doing, not just doing it for money or security.
After graduation, as many of you are now experiencing, have yet to or did long ago, you are thrown out into the real world. Perhaps it was easier to find a job back in our parent’s generation, but I realized quite soon after college that it was going to be a lot harder than expected. Sometimes we are under the impression that we are going to graduate and go right into our area of choice. Maybe some of us are fortunate enough to have that happen, but for a majority of us, we are stuck at the bottom of the ladder and as much as we fight to be higher, we have to take it one step at a time, literally.
I have been through my share of ups and downs already. I came out of college excited, enthusiastic and ready to take on my career as a photographer. The reality of what that meant hit me pretty hard the first couple of months out of school. Basically, everything that I had imagined the journey to be was suddenly put into perspective for me and seemed totally different than expected. “So, I can’t even shoot? What? All I get to do is hold your light for you?” Business? What do you mean? Yea, I know it’s a business but it’s more about the art, right? Shouldn’t I be shooting?”
I was a little (or a lot) discouraged to find out that the road to being a successful photographer was a LONG one and starting out, I probably wouldn’t even get to shoot very much. If you’ve ever seen “The Devil Wears Prada”, think of Anne Hathaway’s character in that movie. That is you, only you report to the photographer, and forget doing any actually photography. BUT with that said, you would gain invaluable experience and learn the ins and outs of the business, (just make sure you are getting the respect you deserve).
At that point in time, I was so idealistically thinking about how I wanted things to go, that I was frustrated at the thought of just being the sidekick who only got to carry the bags. I fell into the mindset of thinking that maybe photography really wasn’t for me. Maybe it was never what I had always imagined it to be. If it’s really all about business and no fun, why do that? So what now?
To make a long story (shorter), I have been through many plan changes, job changes, ideas, etc. since then. Nothing had quite been working out until…
I thought I had finally settled on what to pursue. But last summer, I spent 3 ½ months in Hatteras, where I worked a seasonal job, enjoyed the island life and attended a great church. The last week that I was down there, my pastor asked me, “What are you going to do when you go back home?” I had somewhat of a plan in my head, but still wasn’t super excited about it. I told him that my major was photography but I was yet to use that in a job so far. He told me that he knew someone who worked for a magazine. They were looking to train a new photojournalist. “You’d be able to travel the world, dude!” he said.
I was ecstatic! But the truth of the matter is, which I am learning more and more and am finally putting into perspective, nothing comes easily. HOWEVER, God does provide for those He wants to use for his purposes.
I was abundantly blessed to receive the camera gear needed to get things started as well as the opportunity to learn from some very successful photographers. I have a strong sense of calling to reopen my eyes to the dream that I have always had, but thought was a nearly impossible reality. Let me say again, nothing comes easily. As amazing as this opportunity is, there is hard work ahead, but when we know that God has called us to something, the hard work is a joy.
When I look back, I can see so many times where God was pushing me in this direction. I made the mistake of giving up too quickly when things seemed too hard. I am jumping in with both feet now, though I know it’s going to be a slow process. I may be poor for a while, I may be criticized and discouraged, but I know that God has me at this point for a reason and if it is His will, he will provide (which He has already proven over and over). The best thing that I have learned is not to rush it. Don’t expect everything now. Do what you love, love what you do and you will be recognized for it. Don’t settle for second best, because you will feel that in your heart. You will know that there is more. Go get it! But most of all, listen to God and let Him direct you. He knows the desires of your heart.
I wanted to share some verses I was reading this morning in Proverbs:
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3
“In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
And in Psalm 37:
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your ways to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” – Psalm 37:4-6
Obviously we are at the peak of the political season. I had promised myself I wouldn’t get involved via Facebook but a few nights ago I felt compelled to say something. Just a disclaimer: I have no intention of starting a political argument. Because of what was said in the back and forth the other night, it got me to thinking, some people support this guy for these reasons and hate this guy..Other people support this guy for these reasons and hate this guy. I think as Christians, what we need to be looking at is who most closely shows characteristics of Jesus. Not just hot air, but real genuine characteristics…ok maybe I shouldn’t have said it that way, but its true right??
Basically what I want to hit on is Jesus. Ok so we “know” what both of these candidates believe in, or so we think. But ultimately who is in control? Let’s just relax a little bit and let Him be in control.
So, What does Jesus believe in? (This is based on my own interpretation and how Jesus has affected my life)
I think the gospels are an awesome place to start if you want to understand Jesus’ character. So I chose Matthew.
•First off, the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23):
–it also goes on to say, “Against such things there is no law..”
Based on my readings in the book of Matthew, these are other characteristics of Jesus in which I have concluded (if we are not flat out told Jesus is these things, we can easily see them in the way that he dealt with issues):
•giving to the poor
•just (for the persecuted and for all)
—“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3-12
•fulfillment of the law
—“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – Matthew 5:17
•peace over anger
—“Simply let your yes be yes and your no be no…” – Matthew 5:37
•love for those who do you wrong (Matthew 5:38-42)
—“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?” – Matthew 5:44-47
—“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1-2
•justice (Isaiah 61)
•healing (physically, emotionally, spiritually)
•carrying other’s burdens
—“Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galations 6:2
•acceptance of those society rejects (Matthew 9:9-12)
•fighting for good
•rest for the weary
—“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
•peace and forgiveness in relationships (Matthew 18:15-35)
•equality (Matthew 20)
So there is freedom in Christ:
“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ: you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit, the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” – Galations 5:4-6
Galations also talks about the acts of the sinful nature:
“So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the acts of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are lead by the Spirit, you are not under law.” – Galations 5:16-18
“you are not under law” WOW, let that sink in for a minute. God doesn’t want to put us under strict law, He just wants us to love Him and let his Spirit guide us. He wants what is best for us.
And He makes it obvious what the sinful nature looks like (which is opposite of a spirit filled with God):
-impurity and debauchery
-fits of rage
-factions and envy
“and the like” – Galations 5: 19-21
And lastly, a few things to watch out for:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are furious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” – Matthew 7:15-16
Some people “..honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” – Matthew 15:8
-The Seven Woes – Matthew 23
The greatest commandment:
“Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'”. – Matthew 22: 37-39.
Happy voting. Remeber that first, we are His.
I saw this new surfing movie last night and it really put some things into perspective for me. The main character, Jay just has such a giving heart. Reflecting on this movie, there were 4 points that were re-emphasized for me:
1. Invest in the relationships you have and love the people who are close to you, don’t worry so much about knowing everyone.
2. Don’t complain so much, be content with what you have and use it to the fullest
3. Look for every opportunity to help someone else or make their life easier
4. If there is a goal or a dream that you want to reach, it’s going to take hard work, probably much harder work than you anticipated, but you just have to take a chance and “drop in”!
**Photo courtesy of The New York Times
I was reading a blog recently and I really liked “The Message” version’s summary here. This is an interpretation of part of Galations 5:16-26:
“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”