Reading through the first day of Ann Voskamp's kiddo's advent book and I was struck by both the awesomeness of the book (go, go, go and get one!) but the awesome reminder that we all need by day one: to love those who are less than lovely (hello, ourselves, too!). To look for the outcast, the downtrodden, the less-popular, the ordinary person that gets passed up because they're ordinary. On the surface. And pour into them as you would pour into the person you're enamored with. Taking a little freedom here with what she was saying and pairing it with my brain. How crappy of us to ever decide that someone is less-than-whatever. For we know that EVERYONE was made in the image of God. Of a perfect, loving and holy creator. Who the heck are we to decide who gets more or less love based on the way we perceive them from one interaction, one glance or a decision on what 'kind of' person they are. I, a judger (ENTJ to be exact for my Myers-Briggs peeps), felt this scrape across my heart very specifically reminding me to peel back the yuck and get back to the person God made this Elizabeth to be.
Then this morning I blogged about a session I recently shot that both made my blood pump and my eyes a little teary. My current fave from that sesh below.
And I was reminded of the way I love, love, love to nail the genuine moment on the head. To get the people. To make the picture that feels like the realest of life for everyone inside the frame. Because that means I'm loving them well, taking the time to know them and connect.
Then I stumbled across this song. Just so we're clear, I like quiet when I work. Very rarely do I click on songs, unless a dear friend has sent it to me. So I click on this bad boy and I'm all thank you Lord. Whoever this dude is, I dunno, but I totally hear what he's saying.
Falling in love with people. The old, knee-deep in documenting people for school purposes Elizabeth lives here. You could have literally put me in a room with Dr. Evil in my college days and I would have dug up the connective parts of him that would help us each identify with him and eventually connect. I miss that. I miss falling in love with people and loving them well from behind my camera. Not that I'm perfect at it, and I almost can't do it without a camera to interpret for me, but I so miss it.
Oh Bears. The sweet, less-than-perfect side of town, elementary-school football league that I fell so in love with. Those Bears are going to college next year and being big-dog-seniors and I so long for the old days of football, of delivering turkeys to their own needy families with such pride in their little boy eyes. The caring for ole Mrs. Bonita, who heated her house full of the grandchildren she was raising with her open oven. Who had been battling cancer with her feeble, teeny body and wiping 2-year-old buns all day long, rarely leaving her house and being confusing in her talking with me.
Goodness I miss finding her, finding the strange perfections in strangers and writing about them and compelling people to connect and love well by giving and seeing the stories behind the people we title as less-than. Because we're dumb. And I'm talking about everyone - from the coolest of the cool to the tired to the poor to the rich to the whatever, because we each, in our own way, decide who we do and don't care about. Because our hearts are bent on loving ourselves the most. Because of sin. We think we're the bestest and possibly no one could actually be as great as we are. No one else's strangeness could possibly so beautiful and compelling unless we deem it so. Welp. Too bad and so good, but God made it and made them and saw that is was good.
Lord with every stranger, the stranger the better. - Hozier
Yes. Just yes. Just so we're clear, I'm the strangest. I live with strangers. I walk past strangeness each day. I get paid to walk into the homes of strange, feel them out and make images that depict their now. And I want to get better at that. My heart feels the thing happening that my creator created me to do when I can do that well. And when I can't, I stay up at night thinking it over, thinking about what I missed and why I didn't connect. And I want to love them and love them well, not because I'm supposed to, not because it's cool, not because it'll selfishly serve my need to make great images, not because my crappy brain tells me I'm the best and the worst at the same time, but because the love of Christ, who lived and died for myself and for you and for the strangest person you know and can't stand. And he died so that God can see us, through Him, in our imperfect little strange intricacies and call it good despite our flaws and sin. And I want to make images and be the kind of person who sees the strange in someone new everyday and sees it as good. Magnifying the strange by loving them well or in sharing it with others and compelling us to all take a minute and fall in love with someone new.
Thanks Annie Voskamp for your sweet advent kiddos book, my sweet husband for switching up the evening devotional while I nurse T and to that Hozier fellah and his song. Glad to see the good today because of Christ who compels us to see differently, much of it due to that little chubby baby who rocked our world and shows his own little strangeness each day, new.