Looking back I don’t know why I thought this road was going to be smooth and the way easily defined. It has certainly been nothing of the sort. I expected a challenge, but I did not expect the inner struggle. Back in September I knew the Lord was giving me this photography business. As clear as day I heard Him say, “Use it for Me. This isn’t yours. I give it to You now and I can take it away.” With excitement I bought a camera and started out on this new journey. I quite literally had nothing else. For the first month or two I felt so elated. This was one of my dreams and now it was finally coming to fruition. After a while this question started to plague me, growing stronger with each passing day: How do I use this for Him? The details and necessities for running a business became abundant and I wondered if this is what He wanted. With no clear answer I continued moving forward.
Thankfully, the new year brought with it fresh vision. I was at a conference called Passion when the revelation hit me. I was sitting in my seat listening to the stories of those who are enslaved in our world today. I heard lots of statistics, but the stories…they pierced my heart. This particular story was about a young girl from Europe who was set up on a blind date by her friends. Innocent enough, right? Minutes into the date, the guy drugged her drink. He pretended that she suddenly wasn’t feeling well and took her outside. No one suspected. He threw her into the back of his car, bribed the man at the country’s border and was gone. No one even knew where to look or what had happened to her. It hit me that this could happen to anyone. It became personal. That girl could have been my sister. She could have been my friend. Suddenly she was no longer a number in a statistic. I heard her voice, I saw her face and I felt her pain.
Then, I knew.
The purpose for setting me on this road became clear. I have all the tools for story-telling in my hands. What I capture and the things I write can make a difference. Sure, I love engagements, weddings and everything else that I’ve been doing, but now I know that my art has a greater cause. I have been given this business, this platform in order to share the stories of those without a voice. These tools I have been given can fund rescue for those in darkness. I thought of Ethiopia and all the stories I heard while there. I knew I needed to go back, this time with my camera and lots of blank sheets of paper. I talked to my husband about it and we both knew we should go and do this together. I was filled with trepidation as I pressed the “send” button on the email to the director of the mission trips, but the reply was only confirmation. The why of my calling had fallen into place.
But what about the how?
This is where I find an intense struggle. How do I run a business God’s way? How do I know if I’m supposed to upgrade my equipment, save for the L series lenses I “need”, go to workshops and seminars, and so many other things? How do I know? I need to know what this looks like for my everyday decisions. I need to know what stories I’m supposed to share before I get there. I want to know how to show Jesus to my clients. Sometimes I have gotten so caught up in learning how to get better at my craft and how to become successful that I’ve drowned out His voice. I’m so ashamed to even admit it. In the past few months I have struggled with so many questions. A lot of times I found it was easier to do my own thing, instead of seeking the Lord for all the details. I don’t know if the word struggle even adequately describes what I’ve been dealing with on a daily basis. I think it’d be safe to say I’ve been in a battle that my flesh has won far to often. If I don’t surrender my desires of how I want things to be, they will and do consume me. I have to remember that I’m not in this for me. I must seek Him for everything.
I see now that He knew this was going to be a great battle for me. I am not called to spend all my time in another country. I’m called to build this business here for His glory. I’m called to go and to return with the stories. And it’s hard…really hard. In a field of self promotion I’m sent to do the opposite…to promote Jesus and to share His compassion for the least of these. That is not how it goes in most of the photography world, especially in wedding photography. You capture pretty people with money, not the people most of the world tries to forget. This revelation for my life is beautiful paradox. I don’t feel worthy to even write these words because I have failed to much already. Still, the point is not for me to be able to do this. I can’t. He has the power to do it in me, if I’ll only let Him.
I have absolutely no idea of what the future holds or where I’m headed. All I can say is, “Your will, Your way Lord.”
“Thy will be done. Acceptance of whatever that means is the great victory of faith that overcomes the world.”
– Elizabeth Elliot
Jennifer Blair is a photographer based in South Alabama. She’s a Christ follower, wife, musician, and a dreamer. She’s addicted to cute leather notebooks and carries her camera everywhere. On her blog you’ll find her photography, tidbits of her life in the south with her husband, and her journey in the pursuit of Christ. You can also follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook.