on Christmas lights & running 

My greatest desire is to be honest, and perhaps I was slapped in the face from the very things that I run from: insincerity for the sake of recognition and the desire for belonging.

I’ve been running.

I started when I [jokingly] snapped at a friend, saying that I would spend anything just so I could have Christmas lights in my dorm room. The friend responded with a practical response… something to do with how dollars in college get a bit harder to find, implying that Christmas lights might not be a necessity. (Unfortunate how that works, but smart in saying so.)

Brief conversation or not, my character was pricked, I felt really immature, and I knew it wasn’t just about Christmas lights. (ooh, God works in an unexpected situation. again.) I ran to pinpoint why it bothered me so much.

I felt convicted of wanting perfection, which looks like me obsessing over beautiful things (something that goes far beyond Christmas lights and spills into other areas of life). It’s an attitude towards life  where you can only do more. Be more. Succeed more. God created beautiful things and has given men & women the gifts to make beautiful things, but why do I want such beautiful things? Is it all just for a square photo? Or so I can look back and think “Look what I’ve done! Look who I’ve become!“?

Sometimes, yet I believe in more than just curating beauty through what is viewed on a screen. Thus I realized my pricked character was alerting me to a larger problem of hole-filling: me filling my life with things to compensate for what I think I lack so that I will be more desirable.

In an effort to refocus my attention on several distracting things about my character, I ran from social media. “Social” was empty on my phone. But I have nothing to show for it, I didn’t do anything cool during that time of “social emptiness”. I didn’t eat kale smoothies or plan vegan dinners in my spare time. I didn’t work out (whoops). I didn’t go to bed earlier.

I just had time to realize that I had a bunch of things I could be doing more thoroughly if I weren’t checking my phone so often. And I had time to think & refocus.

What I like doesn’t dictate the truth. Just because I’m a writer doesn’t mean that I’m entitled to do certain things. Same thing goes for being a photographer. I should never excuse poor actions because of my desired professional title or because “that’s just the way I am”. It’s scary and heartbreaking to realize I have slipped into this habit. 

I’m in this place where I so desperately want to be defined by something. 

My greatest desire is to be honest, and perhaps I was slapped in the face from the very things that I run from: insincerity for the sake of recognition and the desire for belonging.

I’ve been running to Georgia and from Georgia. I get chills of excitement when I see those traveling pictures and quotes and OH MY GOODNESS I love road trips. But when it gets right down to it, I am so stinking scared. I hate distance. Distance is lonely. Sipping a cup of coffee and lighting a candle doesn’t smooth this kind of fear.

I look at the next mountain. Now that one can’t be moved. Here’s where I’ll fall – I’ll be able to mark it in my journal with a date and time. This is where I’ll stop, and here, God will make me go on alone. 

I run. And God answers in spite of myself.

Advertisements

The One You’d Rather Not

I’m 57 years young. And I remember that.

While pictures flashed on the screen, you sat quietly in the last row. You unnerved me with your presence – being alone in the theatre. But the story caught me off guard – and didn’t even want to be there. Growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, you remembered the turmoil of that time; you were inspired by a story.

You said you weren’t supposed to be there. “My wife knows this is movie day – I was gonna see The Peanuts, and maybe two more if I could fit them in.”

And that’s usually how it works: God shows up as a teacher in the situation you weren’t expecting to be in, and most likely in the one you’d rather not be in. He’s writing a story.

It isn’t the story that gives you life: it’s what the story has done to shape your character and bring about new passions.

Last year, this time. My heart was roaming and reeling. We were in a new sanctuary to celebrate Christmas Eve. No one in my family wanted to be there, but I don’t think we really expressed that, either. We were hopeful. Hope is the only thing you can hold onto when what matters most is deleted from life. But we went. Our hearts & minds were back with the place & people that we loved.

One year later, and we’re all back. And we’re all different. And we’re all growing. And finding that we have to cling to God’s word unless we drown in our own voices.

Most of all, we’re okay. I didn’t think I’d be okay. One thing after another sent me spiraling into darkness. 2015 was  h  a  r  d.

For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in dark places like those who have long been dead. {Psalm 143:3}

The One You'd Rather Not // God is going to show up in 2016.

Christmas Eve taught me that joy was not something I could muster with my own best intentions. It could not come from being in a particular building or with particular people. Joy came from recognizing God has pulled me from the path I wanted to walk and moved me to a different path. And you know what? I have learned to want this new path, too.

God is going to show up in 2016, just like he did in the last year in the places you’d rather not be in. Yet you will tell of His faithfulness despite the changes that are most certainly coming. He is doing something great. He is going to use you in a miraculous way, and He already is. 

hello, it’s me.

 

Hello it's me // So I start. I will be honest, open, and raw. My photography will seek to emulate the beauty around me.

2015.

It’s the year of “lasts”. Last first-day of grade school. Last year in youth group. Last autumn spent completely under my family’s roof (at least for a few years) in my little town and neighboring city.

But 2015, albeit almost over, will contain a first. I have anticipated the release of this little blog for well over a year. The hardest part is starting.

Part of me has hesitated. Okay, most of me. It requires commitment and vulnerability. Burning thoughts of perfectionism hover in the back of my mind.

Perfectionism is not welcome here. Beauty, yes. Manipulation, no. I want to be a better writer and hone in on social media skills and practices. Embracing what is simply right instead of living in fear of what could go wrong is the goal, here.

A blog will show you who you are and who you are not. Who you hope to be and who you hope to bury in the next 5 years. – Hannah Brencher

So I start. I will be honest, open, and raw. My photography will seek to emulate the beauty around me. “Hello” to the journey – this process we call life.

It’s me,

smb.