The past week has been crazy. Here’s a quick rundown: I worked three days, drove to Atlanta for a night to see my dear friend perform for her debut album release show, spontaneously bought tickets to see The Great Comet one last time (plus plane tickets for literally one day in NYC), and to finish it all off, I spent two days shooting at the Delight Leadership Conference in Nashville. It’s my first real day off in a while (I mean, I’m still editing photos but what did you expect?) and I’m reflecting on life. Particularly, this weekend.
For those of you who don’t know, I work part-time for Delight Ministries. They’re a non-profit company that caters to college women and gives them a community to share their faith and their stories. I’ve been working for them since 2015 officially, but my story with them began back in 2013 when I was a freshman in college. I’ll spare you all the details, but I’ve been with this ministry almost since its inception. What started as a tiny bible study in the Belmont Bell Tower is now a community that spans over 80 campuses in the US. Talk about a miracle of God, am I right?
My job involves photos/videos (as you may have guessed) and it’s a huge part of my life. I literally had to buy a new hard drive just so I can keep all the backlogged footage and photos from the past three years of Delight. However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Delight advocates for vulnerability and honesty, and so I’ll tell you something I’ve been struggling with lately: my job at Delight. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the ministry, love the women who run it, and I do really enjoy what I do for them. But lately, as in within the past few months, I’ve felt satan creeping up on me. Only, I didn’t realize that’s what it was until this weekend.
The Leadership Conference is a time where Delight leaders from across the country come together to get to know each other, learn more about their role in Delight, and connect with God in new ways. It’s a lot of work, and I’m always blown away by the volunteers and decorations. For the past two years of the conference it has been my job to document the event. I take an obscene amount of photos and I have to make a recap video at the end of each day with video footage of the conference. Yes, it is stressful and it’s kind of a lot of work. But hey, so far so good.
Back to the vulnerability.
So this year, before the conference, I had a lot on my plate. Lots of stuff going on (as you can tell from the first paragraph), but I also had to make about two or three videos within about two weeks of the conference. And as a freelancer, I found myself getting incredibly frustrated. I run on my clients’ timelines, and most of the time that is not my timeline at all. I have to work around not only their schedules, but also mine. It resulted in a few long nights and a lot of ranting to fellow friends. (It wasn’t pretty folks.) Looking back on it now, I can see that satan really was trying to get me to quit. Some of the video work I do now does not bring me the joy it once did, and I’m starting to lose faith in my own abilities, and satan preyed on that. He kept pushing me to give up, to back out, to fail. Thus, I went into the conference very tired and very bitter.
But then, God.
This conference blew my mind. I’m not talking about the speakers or the panels or the conversations (because I spent a lot of time by myself not really listening to anyone). No, this conference blew my mind because it gave me back the joy I was missing. I haven’t had so much fun filming or taking photos in ages. It felt like almost everything I shot gave me goosebumps because it was so beautiful. The Lord blessed us with an incredible space and a lot of beautiful people, and I felt His presence as I documented things. Even with the long nights, the stress about editing together videos at the end of each day, there were almost no flaws in my edits and my shots. God gave me such incredible products, that I couldn’t help but take a step back and reevaluate a few things.
The last thing that happens at the conference after showing my recap video for day two is this huge worship service. They bring out a full worship band and between a few songs, we get preached at by one of the co-founders of the ministry. While the message was incredible because it was given by one of my good friends, I was much more moved by the worship itself. Literally, three separate times I had to hold back intense sobs because I just felt overcome with joy. Joy for my year, for my travels, for the people I know, for the ministry I work for, for the gifts God has given me. I’m so incredibly blessed.
Quick backtrack. The night before, while all the leaders shared their testimonies with each other, I got to sit in a circle with some of the staff and share my own testimony. It’s nothing heart-breaking or special, but at the end, one of them said something that really spoke to me. They commented on my unique ministry and how my photos/videos have not only reached hundreds and thousands of people, but how I have brought that many people into this particular ministry. Walking out to my car I stared up at the city skyline and repeated that - my work has brought thousands of people into community to talk about Jesus. I had never thought about it like that before.
While satan was out there trying to get me quit because I was bored of editing videos, and all the shooting and editing conflicted with my schedule, God reminded me of my power and importance. I may not preach the gospel or spend my days serving the homeless, but by using my gifts, I am literally reaching thousands of girls. More than that, God reminded me this weekend that while there are difficult, less-than-creative projects to do, I have a truly beautiful job. I get to photograph people worshipping and being vulnerable and making friends and laughing and having fun. I get to make videos that bring people insane joy and make people laugh. Not only that, I am needed. Without my voice, my ability, my presence, this ministry may not even be the thing that it is today.
And that. Is. Crazy.
So as I sat in worship last night sobbing, reflecting on all the beautiful things God has given me and done for me, I recommitted to my purpose and my position. It’s not going to be easy, and I can tell that I will have to make some changes and try harder at times, but it’s worth it. All the difficulties I go through are worth it if people learn about Jesus or find their own group of college girlfriends or become a leader at their school. Never in my life have I felt so powerful as I did in that moment that I watched the skyline and felt the weight of God’s gift to me.
The videos I made this weekend almost make me cry because I can see God saying This is because of you. I can’t stop looking at the beautiful photos I took because God gave me this opportunity, and He knew I needed these photos to have faith in my job once again. And last night, when I gave some of the only hugs I myself ever sought after, I felt such insane joy that I can’t even describe it. I never planned on any of this to happen to me, but God did. He pushed me to go to a women’s retreat my freshman year of college and whispered Everything’s about to change.