Our Broken World

We live in a broken world. We live in a world of pain and suffering. We live looking over our shoulders, hoping that we are not the next target. We live in a world where terrorism is not a foreign concept, but a reality of life. We live in a world of fear.

Every day, it seems like there is another attack. Another person shot. Another bomb that has claimed lives. Another child killed. Another police officer ambushed. Another protest. Another night of violence.

Every night that I work, I am reminded of how broken our world is. I listen to the pain and the suffering of those who plead of help. I can feel the fear in their voices as they cling to hope.

I’ve been told that to succeed in the long run in the dispatch center, I have must distance myself from those that I serve. But I’ll be honest: I can’t do that. I refuse to do that.

Every day, I am reminded how broken our world is. Every call reminds me of my own brokenness. And every morning when I get home and climb into bed, I find peace and calm within my brokenness. I fall asleep knowing that God has chosen me to be His own, restoring me through His love.

This truth is what drives me to live a life full of unconditional love.

Yes, we are broken. Our hearts have been shattered by pain and hatred and violence and death. We have been broken by sins committed by us and against us. We are witnesses to it every day.

But we also are witnesses to something much more powerful.

The healing power of the acceptance into the family of God. The restoring power of unconditional love that has been poured out over each of us. A love that has taken every piece of our brokenness and reformed it; made it new.

God has chosen me to be His own. And through that adoption of love that made me a child of the Lord I too have been made new.

This doesn’t change the world we live in. But it changes the way we relate to the world.

We still feel the pain and the suffering. We still fear for the lives of our brothers and sisters. But we react with love and compassion, empathy and healing. We become the calm in the storm. The beacon of light in a dark world. A steady voice that people can hold onto in the chaos. The lifeline of unconditional love that eases the pain and wipes away the tears.

We are more than the body of Christ, His hands and feet in this world. We are also His adopted children; a physical representation of unconditional love.

And, as a broken individual, this is the hope that allows me to live and love to the fullest.


Taking It All In

Last night, I went up to Greenville to watch the fireworks with a couple people from my community group and Church family. I also took up my camera to take some photos and video of the firework show.

As the night settled around us and the fireworks started to light up the sky, I couldn’t get my camera to work (in the dark, I kept hitting the wrong button to start the video). I took a couple photos, then took the tripod down, sat back and enjoyed the show.

One of the guys I was sitting with stated that the reason he stopped pursuing photography was because he had stopped taking everything in.

I’ve noticed that I do this more often. I take my camera places, but don’t take that many photos because I am too focused on enjoying what is around me. On life as it happens. On the people around me. On the adventures.

Viewing life through a lens limits your vision.

As a photographer, sometimes you have to put the camera down and live life to the fullest. Sometimes you have to relearn how to take in the world around you. Stop looking at the world like a thing to photograph, but as something to experience.

A photograph can capture an image every day. But vision is only one-fifth of how we take in the world. How can you capture the other four senses? Well, you can’t. Unless you take your viewer to that exact place in that exact moment in time to experience it with you.

Hmmm…. Sounds like you should always take someone on the adventure with you.

I’ve traveled a lot. And my camera has always been close at hand. But so many times I just stand there with my eyes closed in the attempt to catch the essence of the place, before trying to capture it in an image.

Sometimes I just don’t even think about the camera because the experience is just too amazing to take time away from the adventure to take a photograph what I am seeing. Sometimes I have made the choice not to take a photo, because I knew that I could not properly capture the emotions, the struggles, or the experience that I was part of.

I think every photographer should take time away from the camera to rediscover what it means to experience life. Spend time playing in the sand. Hike to a waterfall and bathe beneath the falls (or swim in the pools). Run down a trail or bike across the city. Breathe in the fresh mountain air.

Don’t get caught up about composing the perfect image. But learn how to make a photograph part of that experience.

And sometimes that means ignoring your camera.