Me Ra Koh spoke about the healing nature of photography at BlissDom a couple of weeks ago, and it immediately brought to mind a special time in my life last summer when I experienced it firsthand. I wanted the story to be recorded, so I emailed my friend Bonnie Gray and asked her to please tell it and let me use it as a guest post here.
Thank you, Bonnie, for asking me to be part of such a special moment—more special than I knew or understood at the time. If you own a DSLR, a point-and-shoot, or simply a camera phone, read her words carefully and understand what a power to bless that you hold in your hand.
Don’t take it for granted.
Here is the story in Bonnie’s words:
But, one day when I wasn’t suspecting, God took me back in time.
It happened one weekend I flew to South Carolina to meet up with the beautiful women I’d been writing alongside at (in)courage. Since becoming a new mom of two, I never had the chance to make trips outside of the home. Up until that point, I wrote from the privacy of my desk.
But when baby CJ turned two years old, I felt God was telling me it was time.
Take the next step, Bonnie. Go.
So, when DaySpring invited us to spend a beach retreat together at Hilton Head, I packed my bags with measured hopes for new beginnings.
Little did I know I’d connect with one of the women there, through a childhood hurt I thought was long forgotten.
It’s kind of embarrassing to say it. It’s probably not a big deal.
But, I hardly ever had school pictures taken. I had them taken in third, fourth, seventh grade and high school senior year. I remember those years easily because I hated the other times I couldn’t order pictures. The teacher would pass out the school pictures, calling out names. I’d see my friends get excited, pulling out those glossy sheets. We’d all huddle to check out the class photos. I’d go home and cry.
We didn’t have many photos taken as I grew up. I think it was expensive. It costs money to have a camera, money to develop them. And well, photos just weren’t a priority for my family.
A lot of my most treasured childhood moments never made it to celluloid. I grew up in the public school system, and my music teacher in third grade took an interest in me. She gave me the gift of a violin, which I played right into high school, becoming first chair in orchestra. Yet, I can’t show you a single picture of me in orchestra. I graduated from high school as salutatorian. But even though I gave a speech on graduation day, I can only wonder how I looked standing at the podium with youth by my side. Even the few pictures I have as a college graduate donning cap and gown were ones taken with my friends — with their camera.
It seems so trivial, I hesitate to even write about it. It sounds so childish.
But, for reasons I can’t explain, a picture means so much to me. It tells me a moment existed — that something — someone was worth remembering.
I remember seeing fathers snapping pictures of their children around me and I felt the ache. It’s a hidden ache for memories that weren’t cherished, a wound for what was missing.
The second morning I was at the beach retreat, I woke up to find an email that that stunned my heart. I got a publisher’s offer to write my first book.
My heart was flooded with an excitement and newness that was familiar. It was the little girl in me with the violin in her hand, the new grad with cap and gown. The future felt kind and the sun cast a golden honey on everyone and everything around me.
It was in that moment, I turned to our DaySpring photographer, Dawn Camp, and blurted, “Dawn! Can you take a picture of me? … by the ocean?” I felt awkward for asking, worried she’d think I was narcissistic. But, I just couldn’t help it. I wanted to capture that moment.
My Abba Father knew this, because He sent me Dawn. Dawn responded with such joy and excitement. “Sure! Of course! I’d LOVE to!”
Her joyful and exuberant spirit opened my heart like a rustling breeze on a warm summer day. My heart sailed high up, like a red balloon being sent into the sky by a toddler, laughing he watches it climb into the sky.
Dawn has a most peculiar way of taking a photograph. Her eyes open and she smiles as she breathes to click. I look into her gaze and we share an unspoken moment. She is present with me.
“Let’s take a bunch. We can see which one you look best in.” Dawn encourages me. She puts me at ease, taking several photos from different angles.
Dawn doesn’t know it, but inside, I’m falling apart and being put back together again.
My Heavenly Father was giving me all the time in the world. In that important moment, my Heavenly Daddy said His eyes were all on me — through the heart and lens of my beautiful friend Dawn.
This is how God took my picture — using the fingers and the eyes of a friend.
When Dawn showed me the pictures she snapped, I saw the joy I felt in my heart. I was not invisible. My Heavenly Father let me know He sees me. Just like He did all those years I thought were lost and missing, He was always there. He saw me then too.
The photo of me you see on my blog today? It’s the photo that Dawn took. It was the day my Heavenly Daddy took my picture and healed my heart — touching it through a simple photograph that spoke a lifetime of love to me.
How has God touched your heart through photography?
Pull up a chair. I enjoy your company, hearing your thoughts.
Wanna enjoy more stories of heart healing moments? Join Bonnie as bloggers link up in Faith Barista’s Blog Carnival today. Click here to read & add your voice at www.FaithBarista.com, on Facebook or Twitter.
Bonnie Gray is the writer behind FaithBarista.com, offering encouragement to keep faith fresh in the daily grind. Bonnie is featured writer for DaySpring’s (in)Courage and Crosswalk.com. Bonnie is working on her debut book, due to release in 2013 by Revell Books. Bonnie is a native Californian living in the heart of Silicon Valley with her best friend Hubby, wrangling their two heaven-sent boys on the homestead.