My dear friend Bliss Katherine and I had a shoot together this past May, and she is one of the most talented people I know. She truly has such a gift for capturing the beautiful moments in life. She is also the most beautiful person inside and out. Her friendship has come to mean so much to me over the last year or so and I am just so thankful to God for putting her in my life in the way he has.
She is someone I can talk to about anything and often times she has already had the sense to be praying for me before I ever even ask her to.
When I was scrolling through the folder of edited photos she sent me, this one in particular I just stopped and stared at, because it just captures so honestly the feeling and emotions I feel at this time in my life and that day in particular.
Right before this shoot we were in the car on the way to the Rose Garden, where we were planning to do our shoot, and she, sensing something was up with me, asked if I was okay, and my heart was so heavy that the only response I could give was just tears immediately streaming down my face, and me hastily trying to wipe them away because I didn't want my face to be all ruined in the photos from my crying, and she said that things would be okay and that she loved me and that we didn't have to talk about it right then, and I took a deep breath and wiped the water from underneath my eyelashes and we went ahead and did this shoot.
But I love this picture because it just is. It's not posed. It's just me. Standing there, unassuming and waiting to be lead.
And that's exactly where I'm at.
I may have been through a lot this year, and am still going through it, but at the very moment when God took that chisel and hammer and made that first crack into the barrier I'd had around myself, and he began to take control over my life and the things I wanted so selfishly to hold on to and cling to, it was at that exact moment.. When your heart feels that first crack, that stabbing pain, because you've lost something or had to let go, or had to accept something that every fiber in your being wanted to ignore. Or whatever it is. It's at that moment that a miraculous change and exchange beings to take place. As soon as I gave up whatever control I thought I had on my life, and surrendered it to God and made a decision to trust him and his ways above my own.. The Lord drew so near to me. And suddenly all of the confusion and the heartache began to feel somehow beautiful, in it's own broken, misshapen, shattered sort of way. It's like I could feel, somewhere deep inside of me, the Lord picking up the broken pieces, dusting them off, and beginning to fit them back together in the way they were meant to go together from the beginning. From the very start, when he formed me in my mothers womb and dreamed up all the days of my life and all the plans he had for me.
And I don't mean to diminish the pain that we as humans can feel over many different things in this life by using the word "beautiful". The pain is still very real and raw and oftentimes takes serious time to heal from. And sometimes not even then. But it's the way that God uses that pain to transform you. If you let him. That's where the beauty comes from. It's this supernatural process that takes place in your spirit when you commit your ways to God and trust him to break you, knowing that he breaks with infinite wisdom and the best intentions, knowing exactly how to tear you down in order to build you up stronger.
I said at the beginning of this year that if nothing else good happened this year that it wouldn't matter to me at all if I could look back on the year and see that I've grown closer in my relationship with God. It's already the middle of the year somehow and God has been so faithful. I think that every one step we take closer to God, he takes two steps toward us.
But my reason for sharing all of this is because if you are in a place where you are fearful of something, no matter the magnitude or however seemingly small and insignificant, I want to encourage you to do the hard thing. Whatever that is. The road that seems the most difficult and ridden with uncertainty and excuses and what if's. Because it may not be easy, and it may break you to the point where you feel you've hit rock bottom, but God will meet you there at the bottom. And he sees what's around the corner and just over that mountain, and he knows exactly what it's going to take to prepare you for the beauty that he has in store for you.
I've found myself continuously thanking God for everything that I'm going through and everything that troubles me lately because I know that it's testing me and causing me to look inward and really ask myself wether or not I trust God to see me through in each situation. So often my mind says yes, but my heart is unsure wether or not he'll really come through for me. But so far he has only proven himself worthy of my trust, and I'm learning that trust and faith aren't about seeing and knowing. It's in fact the opposite. It's about learning to trust when we can't see what's on the other side of the door he's asking us to walk through, and having faith when we don't know the outcome of the situation. Being a Christian is challenging in that way but it's also worth it because we are following a God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. Who draws near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Who turns ashes into beauty.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord."
The second half of that verse is just as important as the first. It's hard sometimes to have faith, but when we press in and choose to trust that God will come through for us, he responds to that and honors it and is able to bless us out of that. God is loving and giving at his very nature, and blessing us is what he desires. But we have a responsibility to pursue him and to choose to trust him every single day. And I'm trying to do just that.
I don't know how this got so long so I'll end it here. But thanks for reading, if you made it this far.
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life." -psalm 143:8