The stress took over my body and was written all over my face. I remember looking at April with the feeling of total defeat and utter hopelessness. I remember her asking me what was wrong as my mind kept flashing one word over and over again: Failure. There comes a time in your life when you realize you are not where you want to be. There comes a time where you come to a crossroads. There comes a time when you really need to evaluate your life.
I never wanted to be a photographer. I wanted to be a pastor. I wanted to help people and bring people together. I wanted to show people that there is so much more to this life. In the words of the great song by Switchfoot, “We were meant to live for so much more. “ But as God called me to be a photographer, the excitement grew and my idea of success started to morph and change. I started to follow these big-name photographers and I wanted to be known and followed by the masses, just like them. I wanted to teach workshops to the thousands. In essence, I wanted to be worshiped.
My identity was found in photography. Everything I would read and study, everything I talked about and did, revolved around photography. You may be thinking to yourself, “That's because you’re driven and you want to be successful!” I would counter that this is a very dangerous place to be. When you make your identity your work, you will never be happy. You will consistently strive for the unattainable, and while you may get there, it will only be a steppingstone to the next unattainable. Happiness is so much more than money and fame. When you live for the money and fame, you die by the money and fame. Does that make sense? Let me break this down: When you live for money and fame, your mind and heart become fixated on those and you become obsessed. While you may have some happy and successful times, you will never be content and you will die physically and emotionally trying to reach the success you didn't know you already reached.
I try, but often fail, to live life in this order every day: I’m a Christian, a husband, a father, then a photographer. My wife consistently has to remind me that I am not a failure and that I was meant to live for so much more. So as my wife encourages me, I want to encourage you. You are not a failure; you are a success. You are a photographer and people want you to photograph them. What in the world is better then that? Live your life not as a photographer but as a spouse and a parent and impact your kids so they can impact the world. Live your life as a friend and help those in need. If you’re a Christian, live your life as a Christian and let God use you in the way he sees fit.
Am I saying never to try and get better? Of course not, that would be stupid. I’m saying give it your all but don't forget about what matters most. Live your life like you only have one chance to do the right thing, because in reality there are no do-overs.