2016 In Review

Pride is a Cheater

I began this year with big dreams, solid goals, and a plan to execute them all. For the love, I started off with 2016 PowerSheets (Lara Casey lovers, let me hear you echo my good intentions!) Unfortunately, as soon as the year got underway, my best-laid plans began to unravel. Depression draped my soul, and at times clouded my desire and commitment to do anything beyond my contractual commitments. I have no shame in telling you that I dug deep in self-reflection and went to the doctor so I could take anti-depressants for a while. I would think to myself, people will think I’m crazy if I tell them I’m struggling, they’ll find me weak; truth is, there is no shame in getting help. The only shame is in thinking you cannot talk about it. We were made to relate and encourage one another.  

Portra 400, taken at Better Together Savannah

Portra 400, taken at Better Together Savannah

Don’t get me wrong, God was still good to me throughout ‘the year of the storm’, as I’m calling 2016. I photographed weddings everywhere from Long Island, NY to St. Louis, MI, to Jekyll Island, GA. I traveled more weeks than I was home. I photographed publication-worthy dream venues such as weddings at the Mansion on Forsyth in Savannah, GA and a beautiful and extravagant Hindu wedding at BAPS Temple in Atlanta, GA. I was blessed to attend Better Together Savannah in August and work with the incredible Tristan Needham Designs and other talented artists to improve my craft. I shot as much film as I did digital work, something that thrills my soul. I second shot weddings for talented friends like Lauren Rosenau Photography, Sunshower Photography, and Ashley Fisher Photography. I've been featured in online publications. I've witnessed weddings. I've gained so many client-turned-friends! 

In June, I launched a new business, The Hospitable Welcome. Although my original plans for the business have shifted, I can see that it is still a big dream and a good dream, most importantly a God-dream. The Hospitable Welcome serves couples at weddings and businesses to strategically use gifting as a way to serve others and expand their reach.

Most of what I learned this year is that pride not only comes in thinking too much of oneself, but in not thinking enough of yourself, your abilities, and your God-given place in this world. Comparison is the thief of joy and the champion of negative pride. The world needs to hear each story; stories draw people together because sharing them is the undercurrent of relationships, and to withhold your personal story from others is to withhold connections.

bridal beauty

I have lived with depression, but more importantly, I have lived under the lies of the weight of destructive pride. Surely some friends and acquaintances will think that I’ve been aloof this year, that I haven’t been prone to connect, that I’ve been quick to withdraw...all of those things have been true for me this year, but they don’t define me, they just were byproducts of a rough storm. In 2016, God gave me great relationships, great health, divine appointments, but He also saw me through the depths of darkness. A cloak of darkness and depression that I took upon myself by allowing myself to be self-absorbed in misery and small mindedness.

“My name is Pride. I am a cheater. I cheat you of your God-given destiny . . . because you demand your own way. I cheat you of contentment . . . because you “deserve better than this.” I cheat you of knowledge . . . because you already know it all. I cheat you of healing . . . because you’re too full of me to forgive. I cheat you of holiness . . . because you refuse to admit when you’re wrong. I cheat you of vision . . . because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window. I cheat you of genuine friendship . . . because nobody’s going to know the real you. I cheat you of love . . . because real romance demands sacrifice. I cheat you of greatness in heaven . . . because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth. I cheat you of God’s glory . . . because I convince you to seek your own. My name is Pride. I am a cheater. You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you. Untrue. I’m looking to make a fool of you. God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry . . . If you stick with me You’ll never know.”
Beth Moore, Praying God's Word

I hope that my story finds in you the midst of setting fresh goals, evaluating where you have been and where you want to go. Above all, I hope my own story shows you that your own is important too. Please do not allow your story to be swept under the rug.  

Here’s to contentment, vision, genuine relationships, and never cheating yourself, for in cheating yourself, you cheat everyone you meet.

<3

Stef

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