Ohhhh comparison. You thief of joy. You mocker of milestones. You berater of success.
I almost let you get to me….almost!
Today I turned 32. Happy Birthday TO ME!!! 🙂
I’m not one of “those women” who hide their age. Like a fine wine we only get better with time, so like a nice “vintage” Merlot, or Pinot, I shall own these years. I have indeed earned them.
Albeit still nowhere I thought I would be, or even near what I wanted to be, I’ve carved 32 notches into this belt, and I’ll wear them proudly.
You see, comparison, your scales are always weighted unevenly. For no two people can ever be perfectly symmetrical, therefore neither can their journey. Even identical twins will have some sort of difference, and two separate life paths.
I am not in control of anything. Tried that. Was terrrrrible at it…and always more disappointed after the fact when what I wanted at a certain time still hadn’t manifested.
So today I celebrate uniqueness. For so long I tried to fit in…to be “popular”. That is ANNOYING!
I’ve found out that, like Christ, it’s much harder to be “unpopular”, and far more rewarding in the long run.
People love the lambs in society…the quiet, the timid, those who dare not speak up, or ruffle feathers. They get all the “likes” on social media. Their blogs tend to get shared more than the “hard hitting”, toe stomping, posts.
But God…He reminded me just a few weeks ago that He didn’t make me to be quiet, timid, docile, or placating to the masses.
So I wasn’t chosen to be a speaker for this event, I wasn’t chosen to be a leader for this group, I wasn’t asked to share my yearrrrrs of vast wedding prowess at this conference, and allllll of the women who were chosen for these things are much either younger, trendy dressers, hip, soft-spoken, much smaller in stature than I…. I admit the rejections hurt.
One denial message stated I wasn’t “a fit stylistically”….whatever the heck that means!
I didn’t know telling people about Jesus and wedding photography had a “style”, but I was CRUSHED.
Once again denied because I don’t “fit in”….that’s when He reminded me I AM fearfully and wonderfully made just.how.I.am! That He has given me the gift of spoken and written word, and He’s going to use me just as I am!!!
While I longed for a softer, quieter, more “dainty” or “lady like” voice (like my grandmother used to tell me to speak in!), and to be more “popular”; He shouted through the self-deprecation.
If you’ve never had God “scream” at you it’s rather weird honestly.
I was just sitting there replaying a sermon I heard last year where the preacher laid out a man’s role in the home and a woman’s role in the home.
Telling how He made us each male and female, one strong, the latter soft. Man to take care of provision, then woman to take care of the heart matters. How men are designed to fall for the “lady-like” as it is the “way woman was made”… “delicate, smaller, more fragile than man”…..
In the midst of rehashing that night I closed my eyes and in alllll CAPS ( so you know it was serious!) these words played in my mind, a sort of visual speech.
“I CREATED YOU TO STAND OUT! I MADE YOU TO ROAR LIKE A LION, NOT COWER LIKE A LAMB!”
When I was hearing this sermon I sat there defeated, sad, in full knowledge I literally was physically “gifted” with the natural muscle mass and strength that’s made every male personal trainer I’ve ever encountered “envious”, many Doctors and Nurses weigh me twice with exclamations about what muscle mass I have, a “boorish” voice (again my grandmother’s word, love her heart she just didn’t get it) that is the complete opposite of what we call feminine or dainty….and I was hearing that I’m not desirable to men…
I beat myself up, and tried to make myself not do things I knew I could because of my grandmother’s, and then the preacher’s voices, playing always in mind…”dainty and feminine”.
I used a shopping cart to carry “heavy” bags of dog food or all of the groceries. I tried to ask for help unloading/carrying all of my gear on shoots. Tried to not ruffle so many feathers by refraining from blogging or posting on Social Media at all.
My grandmother and the preacher were wrong.
All of that just isn’t me! If I wasn’t meant to leg press over 600lbs without ever training weights then I wouldn’t be able to.
If I wasn’t meant to carry a 50lb sack of chicken feed or dog food like it’s nothing then I couldn’t.
If I wasn’t meant to carry 20-30lbs of gear on me shooting an 8-12hr wedding day then I wouldn’t.
He made me strong. Physically, Spiritually, and emotionally.
He gave me physical strength because He knew my “Prince Charming” would take for.ev.er to arrive, and I’d have to carry all my own loads until he gets here.
He gave me a physically strong stature to not only carry my own loads, but to carry those of the people I love….everyone! So, He gave me broad shoulders, long, thick legs, and wide hips, to carry those on.
He gave me a commanding voice, both in person and in writing, because He has a purpose for my boldness.
He gave me a thick skin to weather criticism and loneliness because His ways are higher than my ways, and He wanted me to be able to carry truth through this growing mine field we live in today.
He shouted over allllll of the self-loathing what I knew all along….I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE….EXACTLY HOW I AM!
These aren’t traits to be hidden from the world, ashamed of, they’re ME…they’re “B”…at my core.
I’ll never “fit it” because truly I was made to stand out, and stand UP for truth.
I can’t do popular because “warm and fuzzy” feel good types are everywhere.
No, people need the “unpopular” people no matter how much they talk trash about us…because we are the game changers.
We are the boat rockers, the bell ringers, the door knockers trying to shake up a world that’s falling down.
We are the lights in growing darkness, the pillars of strength among a cowering, scared, people.
Male and female He created us. Yes. His creations though come in all manner of sizes, heights, strengths, gifts, talents, voices…male and female.
So, no, I will no longer cower and hide who I am, how I was wonderfully made.
I shall be proud of who I am in Christ…spiritually AND physically.
I’m no less a woman than my size smaller, thinner, counterparts.
No less a woman than the mother struggling to just carry her newborn and their car seat.
No less a woman than chime-like, bell voiced Kristen Chenoweth.
God made me desirable to men too, not a lot, obviously, but still He has one special gent still making his way to claim allllll of this 😉
And it’s about time I CELEBRATED that!
I’ve always secretly hated photos of myself (besides the occasional rocking selfie! Haha!), and therefore tried my best to stay behind the lens…letting my own self-loathing insecurities inspire me in how I photograph others.
It snowed here in Tennessee, and while shooting some Sweet 16 snow
Portraits for my precious photo-ge (protege of photography), Ally, I had her turn my lens on me for a few shots.
I felt awkward, weird, goofy even in front of that lens…just like always…and just like every client seems to say during each session.
For some reason it always feels strange that we would capture ourselves living, that we would want documentation the we were, in fact, ALIVE and part of this world. Why is that?
Why are we so shy in front of something that’s only a tool to let our future generations “know” us because they may never get to meet us, or won’t be able to remember us?
Albeit the images where I felt most awkward and just could t stop laughing are by far my favorites, why?
I should’ve felt confident in who I am, confident in who God made me to be, that I was all in that camera like “Here I am, and I.AM.AWESOME!”
Sadly I was letting worldly opinion define me, and my confidence. I wasn’t “measuring up” to worldly standards on what is beautiful.
I never will. I have to be OK with that.
It’s dis-honoring to my maker to be anything but happy with how HE.made.me!
Certainly I can still stand to lose a few, but I’ll never be a size 2, probably not even a 12, and I’m 100% OK with that.
I am loved, I am respected by many, I am fierce, I am unique, I am remarkably healthy, and I’m exactly who and where I am supposed to be. I am enough!
I want to urge you to laugh loudly. Be not afraid to shake things up in Jesus’ name. Stand tall, hey wear heels even if you’re 6’2.
Hold your head up high, shoulder’s back, make eye contact, get in front of cameras, make yourself known.
You are a person worth knowing…just as you are!
Let comparison die. And leave it dead. That’ll be the best birthday gift you’ll ever give yourself! (And a photoshoot…that’s an awesome gift to yourself too! 😉 )