Most of the time, life is hard. You make plans for your life, you have a hope for your future - and idea of what it will look like - but then.....well, as they say, life happens, and it doesn't look like you hoped it would. YOU don't look like you hoped you would. You look into the mirror and who you see looking back at you is someone full of regret and "what if's". Someone who you thought you knew, but with every passing year you just don't know anymore.
You love life. You love your family. But somehow along the way, you forgot how to love yourself.
Last week, I got to be a part of one of the most amazing projects of my photography career. She told me I could write about it, which I'm thankful for, because I'm convinced that she and I are not the only ones who have felt this way - forgetting how to love ourselves.
This project was a photo shoot that was meant to capture the identity of my friend. To remind her of who she is, deep down, at her core, in all her mistakes, successes, joys and sorrows. You see, she, like so many of us, is in a place in her life where she is just remembering what it means to love herself. Not love herself because of what she hopes to change or achieve (because what if those things don't happen?), but to love herself because she has been created with care and love by the Creator of the Universe.
She was created perfectly, just as God wanted her to be, with gifts and talents and unique features that no one before her and no one after her will ever have.
We are bombarded with a society that says we need to look, act, think and feel a certain way in order to be acceptable. We put our own pressures on ourselves - we want to be successful, we want families (maybe), we want love, we want passion, joy that doesn't end, and those butterflies in our stomach to never go away ever.
But life happens.
What life, however, cannot change is GOD. Life twists and turns - beautiful, ugly, somewhere in between - and spits us out most of the time in a place that is far different from what we had hoped for.
But in that, whoever we see in the mirror we can be sure is EXACTLY the person that God created us to be .Whether that person is different than who we wanted to be, they are exactly the person we need to be. We may never know why we go through the things we do, but that person that we see needs just as much love as if we had turned out the way we had aimed.
Someone once told me that God's love is like the waves of the ocean, no matter how many people you got to stand in the shallows and block the waves, they would still keep coming. We can't stop God's loving us anymore than we can stop the tide from rising, the wind from blowing or the sun from rising.
So why shouldn't we all take a lesson from my friend and embrace who we are - old, young, single, married, children or none - and love exactly who we are right now, in this moment. Because God allowed you to get where you are - for better or worse - and you are deserving of love.