Finding God Through Photography: Boundaries & Trust

God as an artist. Creation itself testifies to the fact that God is an artist and a lover of art. One example is God displaying His skills as a sculptor and works with clay (Isaiah 64:8).

What about photography? I try to remember to ask myself if I am in the boundaries of God’s Word. Do what I display to the world speak of truth, honor, holiness, purity, loveliness, and reputability, as stated in the book of Philippians chapter 4? What does God say about me taking pictures? How can I use photography to advance God’s kingdom? How does God want me to be interacting with folks shooting with me today?

These are just some of the thoughts running in my head today after seeing a friend’s post about what Henry Cloud, a psychologist, says about” personal boundaries.” (ref: pp 117-120)

In the past weeks, I have enjoyed the company of my friends who have gone out on photo ops with me. They come from different churches but share the same passion for ministry and love of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

In the past three weeks, my passion for capturing “creative portraits” was rekindled. But there is nothing compared to the fellowship and sharing of life stories to develop a more deep-seated scriptural conviction among us.

Recently I’ve taken this headshot of a friend, and I have been looking at every day for study. What was she thinking while I was taking her portraits?” I’m good enough?” I am beautiful enough?” While looking at her picture, it reminded me of what Moses said in Deut 32:10 that God sees her as an” apple of His eye” and God’s masterpieces – She is the crown of creation because Eve was created last.

Do I feel small in my eyes? The Devil uses parts of our stories where pain, abandonment, or rejection became our daily bread and then reminded us of those memories of how we felt in those times, leading us to the conclusion that God is not who he says he says he is. Unlike God, Satan doesn’t have our best interests in mind. His suggestions are meant to confuse us. The enemy will always try to change God’s periods into question marks. He turns God’s loving boundaries and instruction into a question of intention. If we allow God’s statements to us to change into questions about us, we will lack confidence. Our curiosity will lead to confusion, and eventually, our enemy will corrupt what God said.

Earning Trust

Remember Paul’s story of “Trust?” It took a consistent change in his actions over time and testimony from those who would vouch for him to change his skeptics’ minds.

My point is this: because Paul had a track record of inflicting pain and persecution, the people in his life were cynical and critical of his change. And they had every right to be. They were hesitant to buy it. The process of gaining credibility and Trust took the good apostle over three years! (See Galatians 1: 18.)

Brené Brown just laid down a whole new definition of Trust, called “braving,” which is an acronym that gives us the anatomy of Trust. If this definition within a meaning hasn’t already confused you, read on!

Brown explained “The Anatomy of Trust” in her recent SuperSoul Session. As always, her storytelling is on par. She told how Trust is a lot like a marble jar, a discipline, and a reward system her daughter’s teacher used in the classroom. If the class did positive things, marbles went in the jar, and there’s a party when the jar is full. If the class did something negative, then marbles are taken out of the jar.

When her daughter came home from school hurt and afraid to trust again because some friends broke her Trust, Brown said to her, “Trust is like a marble jar. You share those hard stories and those hard things that are happening to you with friends who have filled up their marble jar over time. They’ve done thing after thing after thing where you know you can trust this person.”

We often think grand gestures build Trust at crucial moments in our lives, but Trust is typically built with simplicity and small actions.

After looking at the research, Brown said, “It’s evident. Trust is built in very small moments.”

In relationships, we have opportunities to build Trust or to betray the Trust of another. “To choose not to connect when the opportunity is there is a moment of betrayal,” she said. We trust those friends and loved ones whose jars are full. These are the people who have built up a store of trust moments with us. Now the question is, “What are the marbles?” and “What is trust?” Brown said Charles Feltman had the “most beautiful definition of trust,” which was “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to someone else’s actions.”
“Feltman says that distrust is what I’ve shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you,” Brown continued.

Basically, “When we trust, we are braving connection with someone. So what is Trust?” Brown gives us the acronym BRAVING, which is the anatomy of Trust:

Boundaries (“There is no trust without boundaries.”)

Reliability (“I can only trust you if you do what you say you’ll do” again and again.)

Accountability (“I can only trust you if when you make a mistake, you’re willing to own it, apologize for it and make amends. I can only trust you if when I make a mistake, I am allowed to own it, apologize and make amends.”)

Vault (Keeping a confidence)

Integrity (Brown’s definition of integrity: “Choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values not just professing your values.”)

Non-judgment (You and I both can struggle and ask for help)

Generosity (“Our relationship is only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions and behaviors. And then check in with me.”)

If we understand the components of Trust, we can better identify and communicate where we are hurt or in need of more Trust. This will help begin a healthful and non-threatening conversation with our partner, friend, or family member. This could alter our relationships because it gives us a common vernacular and understanding of the components of Trust. Sometimes we can’t quite put our finger on why we feel off, but this provides us with a structure to pinpoint what isn’t working quite right.

But first, we must trust ourselves. “Because if BRAVING relationships with other people is BRAVING connection, self-trust is BRAVING self-love; self-respect, the wildest adventure we’ll ever take in our whole lives.”

Do you trust yourself? Sometimes we’re the hardest person to believe, but that’s where Trust starts. Our marble jar must be full. We can’t give to others what we don’t have, and others can’t give to us what we don’t have.

Brown said, “If you struggle with Trust, the thing to examine first is your marble jar. Because we can’t ask people to give us something that we do not believe we’re worthy of receiving. And you will know you are worthy of receiving it when you trust yourself above everyone else.” What if Trust is part of my daily walk with God lived out in relationships and various connections, challenges, and decisions throughout the day?

Pursuing and Persevering

When what we’re pursuing is worth the effort, how do we persevere until the end? The lessons I learned in 2017.

“Pay attention to the doors He opens. What is it that catches your attention?”

God is teaching me to love sacrificially, dying to self if I must. He loves unconditionally, yes, unrequited love. He whispers into my ear, “follow me.” To be patient in silence, and to partner with Him in this journey and walk humbly with Him and learn from His own story of love.

Jesus said, “There is no greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

You see, God RELENTLESSLY pursues us. He wants us to be His friend, to be in a relationship with us. God is RELENTLESSLY seeking after you as David experienced it in Psalm 139, “Where can I go from your presence? If I go up you are there, if I go down you are there – you are everywhere” and yet while He pursues us, His love is not self-seeking and always thinks for our best. He is a total gentleman and never forces Himself on anyone.

His call went even more profound: Could I be secure in God’s love without recognition? Could I let God be in charge of my reputation? Was God’s approval enough for me? After this first exercise in dying to self, I eventually relied on God more in small things. I was finding life, the companionship, and partnership with God that I was longing.

To die to self is to set aside what I want and focus instead on loving God with everything I have and valuing others as highly as I value myself. (Matthew 22:37-39). This action moves me away from self-centeredness and closer to becoming openhearted followers of Christ who care deeply for others. It’s much easier to pay attention to people’s concerns, interests, and needs (Philippians 2:3-4) when my interests no longer consume me.

The Parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29) and The Parable of the Hidden Treasure. They are connected.

Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

The story is about God’s Word’s power to work on the heart and gives it life has a personal application to me.

Galatians 6, verse 9. This verse encourages me “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Paul, perhaps better than anyone else, knew how wearying the spiritual battle could be. Wars are exhausting, especially long ones. That’s why you are often tired. Many soldiers, who experience the fierceness of combat, want to get out of it. That’s why you’re tempted to escape.

I’m in a season of waiting.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found, and hid. In his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44). One of Jesus’s most potent parables is also one of his shortest. Fifteen minutes before this man’s discovery in the field, selling all that he owned to buy it wouldn’t have crossed his mind. Even if it had, it would have seemed ludicrous. But fifteen minutes after finding the treasure, he was off to do it with joy. What made the difference? The treasure. This man suddenly saw something that transformed his whole outlook on life. The treasure restructured his values and priorities. It altered his goals. The treasure revolutionized the man. The man realized the worth of that which he will gain far exceeds the value we can lose that he can face it with joy and find the courage to keep seeking, even in those places where hope doesn’t seem to exist.

This is why when we are tempted to give up, we don’t give up. No, instead “take courage! We don’t give up when the field the Lord has assigned you to is hard, and the harvest does not look promising.

“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints” (Revelation 14:12). Just because you don’t see, God working does not mean He isn’t. Jesus said, “My Father is always working” (John 5:17). The writer of Hebrews notes: “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36).

I have found myself in a happy place where God has yet to explain, or He may never explain because God is already there. I keep on praying and not lose heart. I just need not lose sight.

It took a consistent change in Paul’s actions over time and testimony from those who would vouch for Paul to change the minds of his skeptics.

My point is this: because Paul had a track record of inflicting pain and persecution, the people in his life were cynical and critical of his change. And they had every right to be. They were hesitant to buy it. The process of gaining credibility and Trust took the good apostle over three years! (See Galatians 1: 18.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s