At the start of February, I started taking the online photography course I purchased two years ago. It was time to finally tackle it! Whenever someone asks me to photograph them, I undersell myself because I don’t feel like I’ve had the formal training I need to charge what I’m worth. Finally, God spoke to my heart and told me to stop minimizing myself. I have access to the knowledge, so GO GET IT. Make it official, Elizabeth!
I started with lessons on photography basics. Yes, I learned new things. Yes, I gained a wider spectrum of knowledge. The course showed me that I already knew how to make the camera do what I wanted it to do; I just didn’t know the mechanics of why. However, the most valuable part of the course for me was the realization that I already know much more than I give myself credit for. The hard truth is I don’t trust myself as enough of an expert to tell myself that. My self-confidence doesn’t feel qualified enough to make that sort of value judgment.
Which brings up this question: Why do I feel like something outside me needs to validate me?
I act as if some external force needs to validate my internal self before my internal self has enough weight to be valid. The external “tests” and assessments seem quantifiable, while my opinion or belief does not. Why can’t my inner experiences and the Holy Spirit’s convictions speak louder than some external measuring stick? And when did I start placing so much value on the external instead of the Eternal?
I love photography. It is a spiritual pathway for me, and I feel like I’m communing with God when I get my camera in my hands. It can be my fancy Nikon D200 or my low-tech iPhone; the vehicle doesn’t matter. When I’m behind any sort of lens and capturing images, time stops and the world goes still for me. I’ve always said I might be the one who pushes the button, but it’s God who helps me capture the image.
Other people have told me they don’t see the world like that. I can’t imagine how that’s possible, because seeing the world the way I do when I’m behind the lens feels as second nature as breathing. It feels so easy, so how can it be a talent of mine or something I’m set apart for? From what I’ve been told, that’s what a spiritual gift is: something that feels so inherently natural to you (and is affirmed by others) that you can’t NOT use it to shine light on who the Creator is.
At lunch with friends two Fridays ago, I told them how I didn’t “feel” like a photographer. One of my friends said, “You take pictures, right? You get paid for it, right? You’ve been told you have a talent for photography, right? I’d pretty much say that YOU’RE A PHOTOGRAPHER.” I blushed. It felt weird to be called something by someone I love and not be able to say it myself.
It’s time to OWN IT, Elizabeth.
So this past weekend at church, my friend Jim said his son needs senior portraits and his family needs photos. He asked, “You’re a photographer, right?” In the past, I would have hemmed and hawed and said, “Well, sort of. On the side. It’s a hobby for me but…”
BUT, this time, I simply said, “Yes!” Owning and honing. Thank You for trusting me, God!