Lean in close . . .
I'm not even sure where to start, but let me just say that 2018 has been quite the year. After going through some incredible valleys the past several years, 2018 started off with a desire in my heart to have this year be different . . . better . . . healing.
I didn't want to have to walk through another 2017 ever again. Bitterness & unforgiveness had totally stripped me of nearly every ounce of joy, and I was sick and tired of it. I had no idea what Jesus was going to do or HOW He was going to do it, but I wanted 2018 to be a different story.
And as the first half of 2018 rolled past, it brought tears to my eyes to look back and see the word RESTORATION written all over those months. He brought healing in a way I truly had almost written off as impossible.
Forgiveness, where there had been only anger & frustration.
These words from the song, "Resurrecting" by Elevation Worship were so very true . . .
"By your spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat . . .
The resurrected King is resurrecting me.
In your name I come alive, to declare your victory
The resurrected King is resurrecting me."
Joy had returned, and I felt myself wanting the walls that were built up around my heart to crumble down around me. (As an introvert, those walls can feel pretty cozy most days, even though they are also incredibly isolating).
Summer turned into Fall, and I started working my way through what is the busiest season for any photographer (it's like tax season for an accountant). Not only is your schedule busy with photo sessions, but you also are still trying to wear the hats of Mom, Wife, Housekeeper, Taxi Driver, Homework Helper, Cook, etc. And then all of the photo sessions need to be culled (a fancy name for narrowing down the 500+ images to a more manageable 30-40) and edited, and delivered to the client.
And even though I knew it wasn't right, the first things to be pushed to the back burner were my quiet times. By the time I dragged myself out of bed each morning to fix lunches and get the boys off to school, my computer was loudly calling my name to start working. And I'm the type of person who really needs my quiet time first thing in the morning, or else it's hard to pause during the day, without my to-do list rattling around in my head while I'm trying to spend time with Jesus.
I started noticing myself struggling with anxiety attacks (yep, just being totally vulnerable here). Not the kind that fears a bear being outside my door, or something crazy happening to my family. But more like the kind that comes when the load I'm trying to carry is not even remotely possible. Too many things screaming for my time and attention, making it impossible to even focus on one thing that I COULD be doing. Overwhelmed so much to the point that I wanted to just hang up my camera and never photograph another session. Ever.
And as October turned into November, and my calendar cleared out in a big way, I grabbed a journal and starting writing. What went wrong? Where did I make a 90-degree turn, when I should have kept going straight?
The restoration and healing that was happening in 2018 . . . I'm not about to let Satan lead me to do a U-turn and walk away from that.
And neither am I going to base my love for my job on 8 weeks of craziness. That's just a season that is the same every year. And every job has times where you want to throw your hands in the air and scream, "I quit!" It's no anyone's fault, and it certainly is not because of my clients (I will be the first to admit I have some of the best ones in the industry, and I LOVE them!)
So as my mind has been rolling through it's whole thought process, I've noticed God sending me reminders here and there. An instagram post from a fellow photographer, reminding herself (& all of her readers) to press into Jesus and lean in closer to Him. Because life is louder sometimes, and if we want to hear His voice, we'll need to get closer to Jesus. (thanks for that reminder @deborahgracephotography)
Another speaker at a banquet, reminding us that we all have that niche, where we can minister to people in a way others may not be able to. (John Schmidt)
Or even my husband's sermon that he preached at his home church yesterday, reminding us that we are all different shapes . . . and God is uniquely forming us into the shape He wants us to be. It's not going to look exactly like anyone else's, but that's not a bad thing.
So, this morning, I'm trying to just press into Jesus. Because that's definitely where things started to go bad . . . when I missed doing that and thought that I could handle things in my own strength instead of seeing His. I know it's a pretty dumb mistake, but I think it can happen so easily. We start missing a day here and there, and then gradually we realize that we've gone several days or even a week without sitting down with the One who created us and knows exactly how we best function.
I know that my days function so much smoother & better when I have committed them to Him first. And yet, I let myself bypass that relationship way too easily.
But thankfully, His love for me is not based on how faithful I am to the relationship (hallelujah). He always welcomes me back with the love of a Father, not holding me at arms' length because of my foolishness, or giving me the "I told-you-so" look.
"God's a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you're never sorry you knocked." Psalm 9:9-10 MSG
I'm so thankful for the restoration God has already done, and is still doing in this heart of mine. And I hope we will all make an intentional move to lean in close to Him, no matter where we are at in this journey. The world is getting louder & louder, and we are going to need to get close if we want to hear what He is saying to our hearts.