There’s a very simple question that’s been tripping me up lately. “Who are you?” Those three words have surprisingly caused me think a little harder these past few weeks. When someone asks me to describe who I am, I immediately default to how I define my identity. How do I define myself, you ask? Well… that’s an even harder question to answer. I’ve always known that I should find my identity in Christ. I grew up being taught that, and I always knew that was what I was supposed to do. However, I didn’t really understand how or even why my identity should be in Jesus. Sure, I’m a Christian… but there’s so many other facets to me. So why should that be my identity? Unfortunately, it’s often a tough lesson to be learned. Only recently have I started to understand just why this is so important. Because when I start to lose sight of where my identity should be rooted, that’s when I begin to lose sight of everything else.
What happens when we identify who we are with something apart from God is that we invest our core selves in something finite rather than infinite. I wish I could say that more eloquently, because it’s really quite a grave matter. It can start with something as seemingly harmless as finding our identity in our accomplishments like our grades, academic awards, or career achievements. I did it. I’ve been guilty of that myself. In high school, my grades were my EVERYTHING. My SAT/ACT scores, my college acceptance letters, all of it I considered a core part of me… of my soul even. I believed I was destined for greatness because of these things- these very finite achievements whose significance felt like they’d last for a lifetime. I identified myself with my accomplishments in high school only to find myself in George Mason’s counseling program a week after starting my college career. All of those straight A’s? They didn’t matter anymore when I had such severe anxiety that I could barely sit though a single lecture let alone prepare for a test. Still, I would end up graduting college in the top 10% of my class, but this time around, it literally could not matter less. I’ll be walking across stage to receive my diploma in a few weeks and instead of feeling ready to conquer the world like I did the last time I wore a cap and gown, I instead feel more lost than I’ve felt in a long time.
Who AM I? The last few years, I’ve started the answer to this question with “Hi, I’m Megan, and I’m a wedding photographer.” I’ve said it so lightly. So casually. Like it’s just your normal everyday 9-5 job. When the truth is, running a business on your own is one of the most mentally and physically challenging careers anyone can ever undertake. I’m not saying this to boast about how amazing I am… I’m actually trying to say the exact opposite without actually saying it. Running a business is hard. Most days, I’m not sure if I’m the right person cut out for this job…. for this huge responsbility of capturing one of the most important days of someone’s entire life. I know I’m not perfect. But if I mess up in THIS job… well, it’s so hard not to be absolutely terrified of that happening. That’s why we, as wedding photographers, do everything we can to ensure there isn’t a possibility for a mistake. We shoot to two cards at once. We back up our files in three places. We hire second shooters to make sure we’ve captured every important moment just in case something goes wrong. We try. We try really, really hard.
We spend thousands of dollars on our gear lineup, invest thousands more in educational resources and conference tickets, and devote hundreds of hours to learning and practicing and perfecting our craft. We think so critically about each shot we take, remembering how to shoot for publication, whether the composition is leading the viewer’s eye across the image in an intriguing way, whether the lighting, posing, and technical factors are all right. There’s so much thought that goes into everything we do as small business owners. And it’s for this reason that it’s such a difficult battle to keep ourselves from becoming absolutely consumed by it.
This is where knowing where my identity lies becomes absolutely vital to my well-being. If I didn’t know in my heart of hearts that God LOVES me and that He’s going to pursue me with an unparalleled passion and desire no matter what I do in this life… I would probably lose myself so quickly in this here and now. This here and now of number of weddings booked, number of shoots published, and number of Facebook likes. This here and now of not knowing when my next booking will come and how long I’ll be able to keep doing this as a full-time job. There are so many unknowns in mine and Justin’s life right now. We don’t know what kind of job Justin will be offered after he graduates this winter. We don’t know where we’ll be living or what that will look like. We don’t know how much money it will cost us to live and support each other or how that money will come to be. All we know is what God promises us…
We are His.
He loves us.
And He’ll always provide for our needs.
No matter what any person or the world may tell me and regardless of how many times I mess up, God LOVES me… as mean and as heartless as I can be sometimes. As I get closer to marrying Justin, I begin to understand more and more how this love works. It’s an infinite thing that isn’t affected by finite circumstances or behavior. When Justin hurts my feelings, I still love him… not out of obligation or effort, I just do. I still love him, even when he’s most undeserving of my love. It’s a beautiful mystery that can’t be explained. And I think God works in a similar way. No matter how our seasons may change, no matter what choices we make, He loves us. Unconditionally and without hesitation. He tells us that even though we aren’t worthy of this love, we ARE worthy of His grace, given to us through the cross, which extends that love to us and beyond us and into forever. It sounds like a fairytale, doesn’t it? But this is real life. I know that even if someday I’m no longer a wedding photographer, I’ll still have an identity. I’ll still have a purpose because my reason for existing is not defined by anything in this world but is ordained by someone who exists outside of our constraints of time and space. At the end of every day and in the midst of every mistake, I have the promise and assurance of God’s love, grace, and provision to cling to… and that’s worth far more than a wedding feature in Style Me Pretty. ;)
So I will take each day as it comes and make the most of every opportunity I have to work diligently and serve in the name of the Lord. It’s so much easier said than done, but I’m so thankful for the chance I’ve been given to serve people on a day as special and as holy as a wedding day. I know God has placed me where I am for a reason and He’ll keep me here as long as He wants me to be here. It’s so relieving to know that I can trust that He is in control through it all… especially in the middle of my stresses and worries. It’s truly a blessing that I appreciate more and more as the years go on. So we can keep pushing on in the midst of our bad days and our mistakes because we know WHO WE ARE in Christ… and we know that nothing can stop God’s love for us.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39
Photos by Meredith Sledge Photography