On this journey of jumping back into photography, the hardest part has been building a new community around myself, especially when I have defined myself as an introvert for so long. The more I grow closer to God and learn more about His Character, the more that I realize that these name tags that I have put on myself are all lies that keep me from enjoying the blessings of God. God did not create me to seclude myself from people. While I much prefer to sit alone at a coffee shop or watch hours of Netflix in my bed all day, these actions are not how God defines me. He has defined me as someone who is called to love others as He has loved me. I can’t do that if I blow off every invite I get, to hang out with others, or continue to build my Netflix relationship more than my friendships. Now there is nothing wrong with enjoying a day in bed with Netflix and a whole pizza from the local Pizzeria (ain’t no shame, did it last week), and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go out on the town for a day to yourself, BUT it all becomes a concern, when hanging out with ourselves over others becomes much more routine and when we go out into the world, we’re constantly ignoring the people around us. For all my introverts out there, I challenge you today to say hello to someone as you’re walking down the street, hold open the door when you walk inside, or ask the barista that makes your coffee literally everyday something about them, besides (How are you?). I promise when you begin taking that step more and more, this label that has defined you for so long begins to slowly fade away. I’m not asking you to not be yourself and be more extroverted, no, not at all! I’m asking you to not let the world define you, but let God define you by living out His calling to love Him and love others as ourselves. That will look different for each and everyone of us, because of how incredibly and uniquely designed we each are as individuals. Psalm 139:14-16, read the whole chapter if you like, but really focus on those verses and the Truth stated about each and every one of us. My name is Brea Graves and I am a child of God who loves others as myself and though I may prefer a day to myself over going out with a group of friends, I vow to still make time to live out God’s calling in the way He would have me to.
And that calling begins to grow even more when I meet with people for photo sessions. Megan (pictured below), is a friend from work whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know more and more over the past months. There is nothing more reaffirming to me about what I just shared above than the fact that all I had to do was call up Megan at 7:30 late one afternoon (after we had already hiked a mountain early that morning together), and have her be down to throw on a dress and meet me to go take some golden hour photos in a random field on the side of the highway. Months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Shoot not even weeks ago, would I have been able to randomly call up Megan and ask her if she wanted to go take pictures somewhere. That is the beauty of relationships. And God knew that friendships, relationships, community are all so very important for us as humans to strive. That’s why it was the second greatest commandment, “To love others as ourselves.” (Matthew 22:36-40)