By Jessie Matteson, Owner of Jessie Nichole Photography
Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the opportunities that have landed in my lap. I feel so undeserving and so inadequate.
There is a lot of noise out there about being grateful for opportunities and having a positive mindset about new challenges. But if there is a very real situation troubling you or causing you great pain, forcing a positive mindset on yourself is pushing yourself into a state of denial. You must go through the pain to get to the other side. Embrace the reality of your situation, feel ALL of your feelings, accept yourself and your situation and learn the lessons the Lord is teaching you before embracing the blessings. Only then will your positive thinking and grateful attitude be genuine and true.
In a culture that promotes perfection and only really shares on social media all the beautiful moments in our lives, we can feel so very alone when we are struggling. You are NOT alone. Surround yourself with people who let you be who you really are, especially when you’re down. Being told to cheer up or look on the bright side isn’t helpful and only further alienate you. You will get to the positivity but you cannot fake it until you make it! [I cannot take credit for this, so if you know who coined this, I would love to know. This is exactly what the Lord has been teaching me this past year, but I have always struggled at knowing how to put this into words.]
I will be the first to admit—2016 was a hard year. Personally, professionally, and every little piece of life in between, I was hurting. It was a season where uncertainty, frustration, and failure invaded my life. Yet even as I struggled, the Lord was perfectly orchestrating His plan for what was next. With weary faith, my husband Bryce and I kept moving through these deep, dark valleys together.
I wish I had the time to explain our divine meeting with Healing Waters and The Her Initiative, but that is another story, for another time. But, I will tell you friends, the way we finally got connected is laced with both irony and God’s mysterious hand.
During our busiest time of the year, Bryce and I said “yes” to what the Lord was putting in front of us. We acknowledged this impossible-to-ignore imprint on our hearts. As our world often seemed swallowed by hurt, sin, and disarray, Bryce and I struggled to believe we could make a difference. Even in our exhaustion, we could still come together; we could still show love and care to those in need. We could still give voice to and stand in solidarity with, our brothers and sisters who too were crying out in exhaustion. If nothing else, we could help their voices be heard.
“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Traveling with Healing Waters and the 1040.com team to Guatemala last fall seriously felt like a dream. I was not sure what to expect when I boarded that plane to meet the team. My briefing consisted of a quick text, a three-minute phone conversation, and whether or not I was available to document the trip. I was in. The way I see it, traveling with several people I did not know to a foreign place to document a story could go one of two ways: horribly uncomfortable OR wonderfully vulnerable and real.
God allowed the latter to happen in my heart, and I watched it spark throughout our entire team as we opened up our hearts during six-hour bus rides and shared dreams over morning coffee. Children squealed with excitement as we sat down to enjoy lunch with them, or play games with them, or simply just run around the beautiful scenery. The change that clean water is bringing to these people, these communities, and the world is insurmountable.
This is why I was given this opportunity: so the Lord could, yet again, remind me that it’s not about me. He doesn’t need me and I will not change the world. But when we step out of the way and allow Him to move through us, our hearts, minds and spirit can be renewed while dreams, desires, and passions are born.
So, my friends, I ask: What is the Lord asking you to say “yes” to?