sometimes life feels a little like getting on a sailboat headed towards the atlantic & ending up in the pacific. you thought you knew where you were going & why you were going there, but the wind had a different destination in mind all along. god just used the original location, the lure of the salt on your skin & wind in your sails to get you moving — to get you on the damn boat — to get you where you needed to be.
this month i traveled to canada to attend an absolutely lovely photography workshop. i had been following the women who hosted it for yearsss on instagram & in that time, they grew into two of my very favorite photographers. their images exude a calmness that feels palpable, providing a solace that seeps into your soul when you need it most. (see for yourself: gillian's website + emilie's website) their art is unique, gentle, + inviting—which is exactly how they are as people too. it was a true honor to learn from them.
the final session of the day was on branding. we each were handed a sheet of questions about ourselves + our brand, prompting us to ask 'who we are & why we do what we do'. self reflection is a constant, familiar friend of mine (i normally thrive on this kind of soul-searching) & yet as i read the investigative questions...my spirit started to revolt in a peculiar way. my whole body tensed up & like a 10 year old rolling her eyes at her parent's gracious reminder to clean her messy room, my heart pouted "i just do nottttt want to freaking do this".
if my soul could be visualized in bodily form, it's arms were crossed in defiance & its feet, they were stomping in stubbornness.
i stared & stared at the blank paper & annoyingly...it glared back, waiting for my pen to grace its presence.
the question read "why did you start your company?" & after many minutes that felt like hours, a gentle thought fluttered into my mind like a monarch butterfly & whispered:
i started my instagram, my blog, my "brand"...to write. to share a written, running log of my heart's deepest desire: to grow sweeter, freer & braver. to share what i am learning despite how ungraciously + unglamorously it looks. to share my wrestlings with god & the fight to believe that i belong, i am important & that i am radically loved + fully accepted.
it has always been about fumbling to believe & live this stuff out, & in the fumbling...
extend an invitation for you,
to fumble with me.
so why did i stop writing? i think i got hurt. i think i got scared. i read some nasty blog comments that told me i was immature & naive. i had a few respected figures warn me that i felt too deeply & that i have a dark personality. i befriended my insecurities & resorted to my habit of wanting to be liked by everybody. (100% impossible if nobody's told you that yet).
i grew afraid of sharing my true self
& thus became paralyzed
because fear steals the oxygen out of the lungs of our dreams,
it suffocates our purpose in life,
& it taunts us with the lie that we are small & unimportant.
styling + photography surfaced as a more lucrative option with way less risk involved. i could be more calculated & curated this way. it's a safer route for me. i've always had an innate understanding of what looks good & how to make things look pretty, including my often jacked-up life. now writing? that's a different story. for me, writing exposes the gunk that photos can cover up. writing spills out my shortcomings, mishaps, heart fractures, broken dreams & the pure reality that i have no idea what the heck i'm doing. like ever.
writing exposes me for who i really am:
a clumsy fumbler, just like you.
just like all of us.
the truth is, images have only ever been accessories to words for me. as i was about to board my flight back to the states, i called a friend (who often knows me better than i know myself) & began to ramble about all the tension i was feeling. my conversation with her, 5 minutes before that flight, was absolutely pivotal. she said something like:
"when things get complicated, make them simple."
& then a few days later shared a concept she'd been learning from Rilke,
"This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must", then build your life in accordance with this necessity."
so what must i do? there are a handful of things, sure. but one of them is undoubtedly: write. i must write. i love pictures & i so deeply revere + respect those who find deep fulfillment in telling stories through images...but i have a different task to primarily set my hands to & there is no shame in that.
whatever it is you feel you must do,
just. start. doing. it.
even if you're scared, even if you wish you "were better at it", even if it's not financially profitable right now (or ever).
it may not make you money but i assure you it will make you come alive.
i don't think we need to wait any longer.
because to put it bluntly: we are dying a little bit every day.
we are never gaining hours.
we are never getting younger.
every day, we are expiring.
these are our unpromised days.
& i'm really tired of living like tomorrow is guaranteed.
i just can't do it.
my life is disenchanting & stagnant when i'm living based upon the stupid lie that my time is limitless.
so what i am not saying is: frantically do everything you wanna do, driven by the fear that you could die at any moment.
what i am saying is: peacefully & purposefully live with vision, fervor & thankfulness, because today is your unpromised, undeserved gift. today deserves to spill over with your giftings & dreams.
you woke up with breath in your lungs because you were meant to live another day.
today you get to begin again & be exactly who you were dreamed up to be.
god brought me to a photography workshop to remind me i was made to write—made to invite people into deeper places. i think he's so cool for doing ironic stuff like this. he's the kind of captain whose ship i wanna be on—he understands the seas & the storms in a way i never could. he sees farther & deeper & he leads us into unlikely, uncharted places & yet, never lets us go alone.
he is surely the best friend i've ever known.
"Between He and I there’s grief and allegiance, tension and shelter. There’s quirks and affection, awkwardness and jokes.
He’s known me as long as anyone will ever know me. He was there drafting me up late into the night, designing my heart, penciling in my veins before birth. He's the one who will walk me home after death, who will be the first face in the ever.
I am kept.
Kept from before the beginning and after the end, that I know.
So I cannot be swallowed whole, marked for death or carried off in shackles.
I have always been seen,
always been held,
always been spoken over.
I have never known a morning where I’ve had to ask for Him or call out to see if He’s there. He has risen before I have and waited for me every morning I’ve been alive. We are the first and last of each other’s day.
We’re in this, Jesus and I.
So, in understanding the nature of who we are, we’ve both required transparency and trueness. It’s always been our deal, our covenant with each other. Decorum or propriety for its own sake isn’t in the room. I weep and we fight and I laugh and He cries. I throw all the weight of who I am into Him and that’s the only way I’ll ever do it.
That’s how we can be.
We both live and breathe in the desire to be fully known by the other.
There is no fear or hiding or pretending.
That’s how I can be myself, be with Him.
Because I know that I can be true.
That I can be fully known by my deepest friend."
so i say to myself: welcome back to what your hands were always meant to do—write.
& i say to you: welcome back to a front row seat to all my fumbling.
may we fumble together & uncover what we "must" do.