Happy Monday friends…settle on in…this one is a doozy.
This week is off to a crazy start already. Crazy because my head still can’t get wrapped around what the last week has taught me. Crazy because I had a break from my normal schedule….getting up early, getting the babies ready and off to school, going to the gym, editing until the wee hours of the morning, cooking, cleaning, leading worship, hosting a house fellowship mid week at out home, pretending to have everything together and continuing build on to my plate thing after thing after thing that keeps me busy and avoiding from spending time alone with Jesus so I don’t feel bad that its been a minute since I’ve done that. *sigh. I mean…can this Monday be any more of a mouth full? 🙂
So let me start from the beginning. This past week I got to attend the Pursuit 31 conference in Rome, GA and it was magical to say the least. Everything about Winshape in Rome is stunning – it’s airy and open and beautiful. There is so much soft, beautiful light around that it’s enough to make any photographer’s head want to explode with creativity. The wheels in my head spun like mad every time I walked outdoors. There was a huge box on the front lawn built out of pallets and canvas that held more blankets and pillows that I could count! …you know, just in case you wanted to sit out on the lawn and rest or lay under the stars and pray. There was a soda fountain and coffee carafé around every corner and an old fashioned popcorn machine at the registration building that had fresh hot popcorn 24 hours a day whenever you wanted. There were stunning ribbons and gold foiled streamers everywhere. Beautiful scrolling script and words of encouragement were inscribed all over the place. You couldn’t help but experience a blessing in this place. *oh…and sweet tea…lots and LOTS of sweet tea.
So, the first night we were there, the lovely and ALWAYS wonderful Mary Marantz spoke. She and I had a good chat before dinner that evening about where I was in my business and how God had really been drilling home a word that I have been trying to live by for the last year and a half…It is a word that has more meaning than most others to me…a word that confuses, encourages, devastates, and amazes me…a word I have tattooed on my body…ENOUGH. We only spoke a minute about it, and I swear God was just trying make sure I was ready for what he had coming for me because that evening she spoke on being…ENOUGH. Sweet Mary probably thought I was crazy with all my word vomiting on how I have been feeling and how I’m in a constant struggle to define what being enough means for me. But she nailed it…she totally nailed it. Mary said that we can choose 2 stories to tell for everything that happens in our life….the “Instagram story” or the truth. The “Instagram story” shows how perfect everything is…how put together we are…how on top of life we are…how in control we are…and how everything we touch turns to something positive and awesome. Then there is the truth. The truth is ugly and gritty and hard to swallow sometimes. It’s tricky and difficult but yields the most beautiful pieces of our life ever made. I mean think about it, what if the struggle WAS the pretty part?! I can’t even process that.
Everything was going great. Mary was knocking it out of the park. People were ugly crying and hugging and loving on each other. There were a few nods of agreement and if we had been in a big ole southern baptist church you would have heard a lot of “AMEN!”‘s from the crowd. Until the end. The end was really rough for me. Mary was challenging us all to think about the lies we believe about ourselves…to REALLY focus on what has scared us the most and what lies we have let seep into our every thought that confines us in this big ole package labeled, “NOT GOOD ENOUGH.”….then we were asked to write it down. We were asked to write it down for the world to see. To write it on a piece of paper, let it hang around our neck with the string attached to the top of the paper, and just sit. Sit under the weight of it all. Sit and FEEL how heavy that lie is. Then we were asked to rip it apart. To take it off. To burn it in a bon fire and feel the freedom we have in Jesus knowing that HE is enough and HE chooses to love us and that is better than any lie I could ever let bind me. Well…it got ugly guys. It got really really ugly.
Just to throw this out there….any of you that have known me for a while know that I work really hard when it comes to my body. I’ve lost over 50 lbs in the last year and a half. I’ve run a half marathon. I’ve done juicing diets and calorie counting and REALLY killed it in the gym for the last few years because it makes me feel better and healthier and I want my kids to see their mom being active and doing my best so that I stay around for them as long as possible. All that being said, my scarlett letter is still “F” for fat. I can’t shake it. It won’t go away. I face it every day in the mirror and I know that even at my smallest (which wasn’t ever that small really), I couldn’t see straight past my skin. I have fought harder over my appearance than I have anything in my life and it’s been debilitating at times and I still struggle all the time…but I feel more confidence now that I’m in my 30’s than I ever felt when I was younger. Every day I have to check myself and make sure I’m not calling myself names in front of my girl….make sure I’m being polite about my body in front of my boy (who ALWAYS tells me I’m beautiful when I put on a bathing suit….this boy has a heart of gold and he’ll never ever know how much that sweet smile and his loving words has turned sad days into awesome days for me.). It’s a battle…a big ‘ole battle. So I write it down on my sheet of paper and tied it around my neck. “I’m afraid my weight will stop me from being great.” Ugh. It sucked as much as you probably think…promise.
But something happened. Something TOTALLY unexpected. Something I wasn’t even remotely prepared for. It hit me like a ton of bricks that my appearance and my body shape were my easiest struggles to call out, because everyone can SEE those. But the biggest lie I believe, the lie that has stopped me from being more intentional and moving forward with my life and business in ways I have felt the Lord’s leading in the last few years is…that no one will care about or want to hear what I have to say. Fear that the things on my heart and the story behind the pulse of who I am will mean NOTHING to people who are asking me to share with them how I have come to this point in my life. Y’all…my story is muddy. It’s icky and sticky and just plain rough in some parts and when Jesus stepped in and drew the line in the sand for me that showed me He wanted to protect me and fix me and make everything better…it changed everything. It still…changes everything. And what if that means nothing to anyone else. I sat there in my seat totally broken. Totally wrecked and helpless until a sweet sister grabbed my head and pulled me to her chest and just let me sob. When it was time to take off our paper bondage I couldn’t do it. I just sat totally numb (and walked around like that for a few days if I’m honest) until the music stopped and the lights came on and the group leaders were all saying, “no really…go to your group lady.” *they didn’t REALLY say that but…there were crickets by the time I left. 😉
I have felt a big giant pull in the last year and a half that I haven’t been able to identify. It was disguised as restlessness anxiety and I have done a LOT to try and figure out exactly what’s wrong with me. I have gone to countless workshops thinking that if I could just break through a wall in my skill set it would make me a better photographer and I would feel peace in that. I have listened to podcasts and bought a new journal every other month thinking that if I could just find the right one…one that was pretty enough then it would be easy to pour myself out in the pages and SOMEONE COULD SNAP THEIR FINGERS AND MAKE IT ALL SEEM BETTER. *sigh….it didn’t happen. And I knew what God was putting on me. I knew the great love He was putting on my heart and I have been too damn afraid to even look Him in the eyes and say, “ok…I’ll try.” You guys…I want to teach. I feel that I’m supposed to pursue this more and I’m TERRIFIED…let’s be honest…that word does NOT even fit this circumstance…I’m way more than terrified. The “what if,”‘s so far outweigh the “just maybe”‘s it’s not even funny…but…I have to try. If it goes nowhere and no one wants to hear it, what do I lose? What can I lose by telling the intimate details about my relationship with Jesus and how it molds me into a better photographer, a better business woman, a more compassionate entrepreneur? Nothing. It might cost me a few readers or “likes” on Facebook, but I think I can handle that.
I have held workshops before and I have had the BEST time with the participants. These ladies moved into my heart and when I saw the lightbulbs go off and and they finally understood what I was telling them about their cameras or their software or their posing, I felt like I was coming alive. When I share my story with a couple who is struggling with family issues and I assure them that I get it and we will make it work…because we love them and we want their day to be perfect…I mean it and they know that. When I tell a discouraged photographer that they REALLY are great and that there is so much value in the work they do, I feel like I’m talking into a mirror because that struggle is real and I understand. When I am vulnerable…I am at my best. And that makes no sense to the world at all…don’t worry world…it makes no sense to me either. *sigh… All I know is that I want to tell people they are amazing and show them that they are loved and wonderful and of value and that THEY ARE ENOUGH just as they are…and I don’t even know how to start.
So why am I writing all of this? What am I trying to get at? What do I need any of you to do? The answer…just pray for me. This year I have had some of THE most amazing weddings and sessions of my career and I have a huge fall line up heading my way. I don’t want to grow weary or focus on the wrong things. I want to stay driven and keep pressing towards processing this new calling God has placed on my heart. I want to keep giving my clients the best access to ME that they can get because I am a firm believer that when people hire ME to shoot their wedding day, or their pictures in general, it’s because they connect with me and know that I will help them see their stories in the most beautiful light possible. I live for that and I just need prayers to never forget it.
I KNOW this has been the longest post ever and I am so SO thankful for those of you that have read all the way to the end. God is moving in my heart and my business and I can’t wait to see what that all means. My sweet sweet small group leader at P31 told me that a stepping stone could be to contact the GA P31 rep to see if she needed any help with the statewide small group and I reluctantly did. I didn’t want to because I was terrified of asking and looking like a fool who is just trying to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong. But when I messaged my state leader, Ashley, she responded with a resounding, “YES!” and was so excited to get some help since she is on maternity leave right now. My heart almost burst open, but it came out as just an eye roll and a “psh….this is JUST like you God.” 🙂
I’m taking this next month to sit on all of this. To ask God to just show me where He is leading me. I’m asking Him to bring opportunities to me that would push me to speak about my love of photography and my business, but also to speak about Him. I’m asking for assurance that this is where I’m supposed to be. And I’m asking Him to love on all of the couples and families we will be working with for the duration of the year. I feel like I’m bracing myself for the storm and waiting to see the downpour before I board up the windows…but I’m not running this time and I’m not hiding. Everything will be great…and even if it’s not…even if I fail and NO one cares…I will rest with a giant happy heart knowing that I was obedient…and that will be enough.
and THANK YOU so much to my beautiful friend Laurie Crutchfiled for this head shot. She’s amazing and loves me endlessly. 🙂
I am so proud of you. You go girl. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” -Philippians 4:6
Im SO grateful that the work is not finished and that God doesn’t leave us broken pieces of mess for too long. Carrying to completion…love it! Thank you!
“even if I fail and NO one care”
FYI, Melissa, LOTS of people care! You’re an amazing person, and we’re lucky to have you in our family! Now stop dilly-dallying and drag my brother, nephew and niece up to DC…It’s past time for a visit 🙂
You are so amazing Melissa. I feel like you named the struggle for lots of small business owners. A couple months ago, I started to forget that life is about love and people. It’s NOT about snagging the ideal client or branding over backwards. It’s not about $75,000 wedding budgets. It’s about showing Jesus to people and loving them. I’m so excited for you and I think you will be an amazing teacher! So looking forward to the doors God will open in your life for this. Also you are so beautiful, friend! Glad to know you.
Amen Molly! Bob Goff said you are either a reflection of or a reaction to…reflecting BACK to Jesus is the goal. <3
Oh sister it is so good to read about the work God is doing in you (and THROUGH you). The Spirit has such a way of moving that we can’t help but ugly cry and have blind eyes open and feel the weight of it all in new and good ways. I love seeing your passion breaking free and how you are praying through it and letting God lead- and the doors that have opened already. God has wired you for beautiful things. My favorite part was what you said, “When I am vulnerable, I am at my best.” That is beautiful. I resonate so much with that. I feel God has chosen to use me through a ministry of weakness and it makes so much weird sense. Such a good picture of when I am weak, I am strong. Praying for your month and that there would be a great sense of calling to pursue what God has put on your heart. much love and thank you for taking the time to share what God is doing- such an encouragement to me
You will leave the most beautiful mark on the hearts and in the lives of so many grateful people–just by being you 🙂
Loved you then,love you still. Always
‘What if the struggle WAS the pretty part’ –something that has been resonating with me deeply lately. Our moments when we’re not enough is when we realize we never were & has always has been. So grateful He is enough.
I love seeing Jesus at work through your life & work! Thanks for sharing!
Absolutely Cara! That struggle is so so real but thank GOD its not up to us to finish the work in US. He does that. And until we see Jesus as enough, we will never be satisfied. So so much easier said than done. <3
Melissa, I have never read your blog before and it just came up in my Facebook feed…I’m so glad it appeared at a moment when I had time to click and read 🙂 Doesn’t that just seem to happen! Thank you for sharing your heart, your truth and your struggle. Because it really is all such beauty. And so very encouraging. Prayers abound for you!
You are so sweet Jenny! Thanks for stopping by and praying. I need that more than anything. 🙂