By the time I plop myself on the couch with a cup of coffee in the mornings, trying to shake sleep from my head, my husband has already been up working for two hours. Often, he’s working on his real estate business, but recently he’s been developing his passion for photography. While I’m still trying to get Alexa to understand “snooze” through my mushy, morning mouth, he has been watching tutorials from top photographers, learning new techniques and gaining information about new equipment. I love that trait about him. Whatever he does, he gives it his best and he works hard, learning everything he can. This drive, discipline and work ethic has made it possible for him to support our family as self-employed for years. So, it should not have come as a surprise when he pursued this new hobby-turned-business with the same enthusiasm.
What I wasn’t prepared for was him trying his skills out on me as his early-morning model. Coffee mug in one hand, remote in the other, I was trying to muster up the energy to make it to the shower when I noticed that the whirring hum of the lens focusing seemed very near. Just then, half the room was lit with a flash that came from over my shoulder. As he repositioned himself in front of me, I met the lens with a look that said all the things: “Why would you do that now? My hair! My face! My ratty t-shirt! No warning so I can try to hide at least one of my chins?”
His response to my glare of indignation? “I’m just working on depth of field. It’s not about photos of you.” Ouch! It wasn’t about me and all my insecurities that become multiplied when a camera is in my face. It was about him practicing his craft. He needed a real person to see how the light reflects off a face, to see how shadows fall. He could use me for that despite how unpresentable I felt.
Since my early morning debut, I’ve become accustomed to flashes, clicks and tripods aimed at me at any given time. I no longer worry about how I look. I let him practice; I let him learn. I allow myself to be seen in a vulnerable state, frozen in all my glory, for the sake of him getting better at what he loves to do.
This realization led me to think about what other ways I’ve been unwilling to serve others because I was too concerned about how I would look. How many times did I refuse to be real with someone in the interest of preserving my appearance? When have I missed the opportunity for someone to confide in me about their struggles because I was too prideful to admit I shared the same struggle?
God doesn’t care about using our camera-ready selves. We can save our filtered, got-it-all-together selves for social media. He wants to use the parts of us that are real and raw; the parts that have struggled through some messy things in life. These are the parts that He can use to help those that come into our paths. It is in our vunerable moments, when we allow ourselves to be seen as we really are for the sake of someone else, that God’s light reflects off of us in the brightest way.
Carla Edmisten lives in Ladysmith, VA with her family. She is a social worker, writer and speaker. Invite Carla to speak at your event, get more information here.