I recently hopped aboard the Instagram train. People – that place is crack for creatives. When I dove down that crazy rabbit hole I didn’t surface for hours. In an ocean of puffy hearts, it’s so easy to be swept into the undertow of conditional love. Even as I followed one amazing photographer after another, I could feel myself thrashing to climb back on to the shore – that place where I can gaze over the sea of talent and marvel at its beauty. It’s under the crushing waves I lose perspective. By school pick up, I was glassy-eyed from all the pretty things and soul-sick from the comparison. Then I was reminded of this verse:
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10
God’s people had returned from exile to find their home in ruins and their beloved temple destroyed. With hope and enthusiasm they set about rebuilding it. But they had only laid the foundation when opposition set in. Neighbors fought the project tooth and nail, finally getting a restraining order to halt construction. Enemies scoffed. Supporters fell away. For years the site stood silent. The people were discouraged at the smallness of what they had accomplished and the greatness of the task before them.
They were like me when fear or failure looms. What little self-confidence I have ebbs away. My skepticism chokes out effort. I pull back to protect myself from rejection. I look at the ground ahead that I hope to cover, rather than all the ground behind that I already have.
So why am I sometimes dissatisfied with my own small beginnings as a photographer?
- Small beginnings aren’t glamorous. My small Facebook and Instagram following – not glamorous. My iPhonography – anything but.
- Small beginnings are stinkin’ hard. In the first years of a small business you sow much more than is reaped. I’m about to be kicked out of two book clubs (ok, not really) because I can’t find time to relax. I love shooting and editing but so much of my working hours are the business side of things. Somewhere in there my house gets clean and family gets fed (usually in that order). I flail trying to get it all done in my own strength and often I’m tired.
- Small feels un(der)heard. When we start a business we feel we have something to offer the world. There’s a little voice in us crying to be heard. We want a megaphone and an attentive audience, but it can feel like an empty room.
When I filter these notions through God’s lens, I see my thinking is upside down.
- It’s about the Giver not the glamour. My photography is and always will be only a hazy reflection of His amazing beauty. The images I produce only capture one shutter’s speed of His eye-blinding, soul-piercing grandeur unfolding in every corner of His creation. When I’m convinced His creation is what’s most glamorous, the pressure is off.
- It’s about His strength not mine. Could God have finished that temple Himself? Heck yeah! Was there purpose in their longing? You bet. God doesn’t say ‘Come, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will do it FOR you.’ He promises REST. He promises rest from our striving and strength for the journey ahead. If small beginnings weren’t hard we’d be pretty big in our own picture. I’m convinced He hands us just what we can handle.
- It’s about what He whispers not how many hear. Every ship needs a rudder and, in business as in the rest of life, I want God to be mine. Big FB and IG followings look pretty enticing but I’m not ready for them. Amidst that kind of noise I’d never hear His still, small voice and would struggle to use wisely the one he’s given me.
What little thing, what dream, what false start has left you dissatisfied? A particular calling, your little business, that germ of an idea? Don’t despise them. Surrender them to the God who delights in taking our weakness and showcasing His strength. Take another look at your dampened dream – this time through God’s lens and brave on.