There's nearly a decade between us in the sibling line-up. As one of the 'big girls' it was sometimes my job to help the 'little girls' get ready for the day. I'd set tiny, wiggly Emily up on the bathroom sink and carefully untangle knots and smooth back silken wispys until she looked presentable enough to start the day. I had a ache-in-my-throat flashback moment to those mornings as I helped her get ready for her senior shoot with us. We laughed and she wouldn't hold still and she let me braid her hair. It'd been a long, long time since I'd gotten to do that.
Our vision for this shoot was for it not look like a senior shoot. No stiff poses, no plastered expressions. Just Emily at eighteen. That's all. We divided her session into two locations. One to evoke the sense of who she is becoming and one to preserve who she is right now. Emily isn't one to 'dress up'. She's much happier wearing no make-up, tangled hair and a ukulele strapped to her back than she is in a dress. But I wanted to nudge her outside of her comfort zone. Thus, the lace dress. For this post, I've written her a letter and I truly hope you enjoy it along with the images we captured of this beautiful woman. I'm proud to call her my sister.
You are sunlight and storm clouds. You process life in layers, both heavy and light. Your heart beats on a slower, stronger beat than most. You carry the scent of summer on your skin and the glow of youth in your back pocket. If adventure were a song, you'd know it by heart.
Because of who you are, the world will tell you one of two things. One: Let your feelings control, overwhelm and direct you. Or, two: Forsake them. Become hard, smooth, unmovable. It seems that most people either see emotions as a deciding force or a weakness. There is no middle ground. But I want to tell you something different. You can walk in the light of Jesus' grace and see it all as a gift. He made you to feel deeply. Not so you would be forever bobbing helplessly in a sea of emotions, but so you could have your fingertips on His very heartbeat for this world. You were made to touch His pulse. Can you feel it now? That burning joy, the flame of His love, the very ache of His heart to heal. You can be conduit of that to others.
Definition of conduit
1 : a natural or artificial channel through which something (as a fluid) is conveyed
I could make obvious metaphors here about the journey you're embarking on; about paths and valleys and mountaintops and all that. But that's not what you need. Instead, you need to know that you're going to be tested and you have the ability to endure it. The years ahead are life-forming, self discovering ones. You're going to feel confused and overwhelmed. But here's the part where I remind you that you don't have to be controlled by emotions or fear. In Christ, you've been set free, sweet girl.
Yes, set free. Free to breathe in glory. Free to make mistakes (because you will). Free to learn the lessons that come after. Free to laugh and cry and fall in love with your Creator over and over and over. Free to become.
Here you are standing on the brink with The Great and Unknown Wide rippling out in front of you. It's ok to feel a little lost. It's ok to be kind of afraid.
You shouldn’t feel so bad about being afraid of so many things.” “Why not?” “Because if you weren’t afraid never ever, then you couldn’t be brave never ever.” ~ C. JoyBell C.
The truth is: living life, it's much like writing a song. Everyone is born holdinga handful of unique notes tucked in their palms. I believe God gives the freedom and grace that allows each of us to decide how we want to string them together. You're one of the few humans who can hear that song when most have already forgotten they had one to begin with.
So write your song, Emily. Stop worrying over what anyone will think of it, you're really only singing for Jesus, after all. Don't try to copy the same notes everyone else has already played. Bring your own harmony to the chorus. Stand brave in the coming current and allow yourself to lean hard into the plans God is creating just for you. This is your journey. This is your entering into adulthood. This is your becoming.
I can't wait to watch it all unfold.