I was nine when I got my first camera. I’d broken my arm at the beginning of summer and I think my mom gave it to me to cheer me up. I took it to the local theme park with my family and took pictures of the world from the Skytower.
When that roll of film came back, I knew this was what I wanted to do.
After the encounter with the living God for the first time at sixteen, I knew this is how I could give thanks for what the Lord had done: Capturing the reflected glory of a human soul on an ephemeral piece of film. I shut myself in the darkroom for two years learning this craft in high school.
After that, God sent me to a tiny college in the mountains of South Carolina. One with only two photography classes. I skipped into the second easily. I graduated with a degree in Outdoor Experiential Education, married a week later, and three years after that found myself cuddling twin girls who never seemed to sleep.
Sure, I pulled out my digital camera to photograph the girls constantly…But that wasn’t the dream.
I felt like a cracked vessel that could not hold water: someone with a clear calling who didn’t know how or seem to have the means to fulfill my purpose. The Lord had taken me far from that original dream to photograph. Clearly, He had meant for me to go to that little mountain college with the full scholarship. Clearly, He had given me a man who served and loved me deeply. Clearly, these little girls crying at all hours were good and precious gifts. But what about this desire to capture the glory of God reflected in the faces around me? Would I ever be able to pursue that dream and passion?
And then I bowed low to serve someone who had served me.
A kind old mentor who invited over 60 people each year to her farm for Easter and Thanksgiving. A group of misfits for whom she opened her doors and invited Jesus right in.
I took out my camera when my girls were napping and I photographed it all. The glory of a Jesus call lived out in such a real way. I gave her a photo book to say thank you and show her all the things she couldn’t see from the confines of her walker.
Then she asked me to photograph her family. Then someone else asked if I’d photograph a newborn. And then, with the twins but 14 months old and a surprise baby boy about to be conceived, I received my first paying photography client.
My dream of becoming a professional photographer didn’t happen overnight. And I’m not yet making a livable income from it, but there was God stepping right down into my world the very moment I stopped wishing and started serving. (<==== Click to tweet)
Bow down, dreamer-friends. Stoop to wash those feet right where you are. (<==== Click to tweet)
And wait. Wait for Him to use you in ways you never expected as you surrender your dream to give Him glory, while using your hands to serve.
Shared by: Melissa Aldrich
Melissa Aldrich rarely has it all together, but she knows the One who does. Wife, Mother, photographer, writer. She encourages others (but mostly herself) to see the mess in daily life as real beautiful graces. Melissa can be found at Quiet Graces and on Facebook.
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