So, lately I’ve been noticing lots of dandelions growing up through cracks in the sidewalk. Definitely not unusual for this time of year, but the more I stop and stare and contemplate the sheer miraculousness of it all- that a God-created plant could break through manmade concrete- the more I am in awe of His glory. It seems like this is so representative of the way that He works in this world. You know, by using grace and humility and love to conquer what we would think would be the more powerful forces- hatred, violence, greed, etc. Just goes to show that everything about Man, from his nature to the things he creates, cannot even begin to compare to, let alone match or overpower, the presence of God in this world. But what amazes me the most about these dandelions is that they have no such thing as willpower or control or talent or ANYTHING that could point to their beauty as being something they did themselves. It is ALL GOD. And it is so apparent. And so I’m beginning to realize how hard it is to be like dandelions. By nature, I’m so prone to extremes of insecurity and arrogance that, for the most part, it seems that I can’t just let Christ come out of me in the way I act and the things that I do. By nature, I am so competitive that much of the time, my mood is entirely dependent on performance. Have I measured up to my own standards, to other people’s standards? Have I mastered the craft? This part of me has been so inherent even from a young age that even in elementary school, I HATED missing even one day and would often go to school sick just because I couldn’t handle missing anything or falling behind or- HEAVEN FORBID- not make straight A’s. And I quickly became addicted to being the best, which lasted well into my high school years. I loved good grades. I loved public recognition for what I accomplished. I loved that people tried to copy off me (and you’d better believe I wasn’t having any of THAT). I loved winning awards, whether for academics or art or anything, really. Never mind the fact that I sacrificed my social life and failed to forge any but one lasting relationship out of all those years. And I’m not saying that there’s necessarily anything wrong with success… I mean, God gives us all our talents and individual gifts to be able to work together as His body. But there IS a lot wrong with the pride I felt because I thought that I alone was responsible for what I accomplished. Pride is a sick, sick disease. I couldn’t praise God for blessing me with the ability to do these things, because I chalked it all up to my own hard work. I couldn’t use what He gave me for His glory, because I couldn’t get past my own ego.
I’m sad to say that I still find myself trapped in this cycle many times. I am constantly comparing myself to other people, rather than looking into the mirror of Christ for my identity. And I’ve begun to notice that this has somewhat intensified since I began immersing myself in photography. It’s so hard to fight the feeling that I need to figure it all out right away, and be at the top of the industry, and have a successful business within a year. Admittedly, I have a problem with blog-stalking, so I’m always seeing other photographers’ amazing work, and rather than being inspired and marveling at the graciousness of God to bless us with such creativity and passion, I start feeling nauseous because even though I KNOW they are far more experienced than I am, I can’t help but feel like I’ll NEVER get there. I’ll never be that good. And that makes me wake up some days and just want to throw in the towel despite only having just begun. If I can’t be the best, why bother?
On top of battling those insecurities, I worry that I WILL be that successful one day. That I might actually be that good someday. Because I’m afraid that if I am, I will once again attribute it all to my own hard work and my own talents and whatever else. I’m worried that my ego will totally manipulate encouragement or compliments or whatever into one big pat on my own back. See, everyone? Look what I’ve done! I’ve accomplished something! I’m worth something! See, I deserve to be loved now. Riiiight…..?
NOT right. Geez, why is the line between these extremes such a difficult one to balance on? Why is it so difficult to not only be satisfied with exactly what we’ve been given, but also to use it always to point back to Jesus? I want so badly to return the gifts He’s given me by using them to reveal to others His glory. DARN THIS SINFUL NATURE, ADAM AND EVE.
Last Sunday, Rick Dunn’s message couldn’t have been more pertinent to the crossroad I’m finding myself at. These two particular passages tugged so much at my heart:
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-4
“Such is the confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6
The only confidence worth having is that which comes from Jesus. Because any other can easily become pride, or can easily be ripped apart by insecurity. Truth be told, if I REALLY had to rely on my own abilities to make it out of this life for the better, well, I should have thrown in the towel a long time ago. Because it ain’t happenin.’
I was so thankful to have come across this video created by Atlanta-based music photographer Zack Arias because it made me feel so…. un-alone in this battle. It’s around 10 minutes long I think, but it is so worth it if you can relate to this at all (and I have a sneaky suspicion you can…):