to say this season, this year, has been the hardest of my life sometimes feels like a blanket statement to use as an excuse. an excuse for anything. for work taking longer, for not being able to get out of bed, for not caring about certain things any longer, etc. this is also the year i've changed the most. which i've come to find out is normal for 1) being in my twenties and 2) when tragedy strikes a person. i guess it is nice to finally be a little "normal" at something.
i have honestly had to remind myself more this season than any other why i do what i do. and why i love what i do. because some days i couldn't remember. no matter how much i sincerely love my brides and grooms and their families, i had to push through most of wedding season early on this season.
my dad died in may. what a weird, stupid sentence. our wedding season had barely started and i at one point wished i could just quit my job. because the thought of working seemed wrong, or unnecessary. couldn't i just run away? wouldn't that be the obvious decision. but in the hospital with my family on that tuesday morning, around my dad's lifeless body, i found myself mentioning that i had a wedding that weekend and asked if we could move the funeral and visitation around so ethan and i could still do our job. everyone else, the siblings and the spouses would have to work around getting off of their jobs, and their bosses were incredible and even came and cried and hugged our entire family because that is what amazing humans do. but for me, i just knew that even though there was an option to try and find someone else for our bride and groom, and i knew that this couple especially would understand my grief, and i also knew one of my amazing photographer friends would've taken over for me, even if that meant flying in from another state, because that's what my amazing human friends would do for me/us, something in me knew that wasn't even going to be an option for me.
so as delicately as i could i mentioned it to my family. i was afraid i would be hurting them. that losing my dad meant nothing and all i cared about was my company. or the money (i knew they wouldn't think that, but later i worried about the lies that came into my worried heart). or, or, or, bad things, etc.
but instead, my beautiful mother just said of course we will work it out so you can still get to your wedding. my whole family supported us.
immediately i was reminded of how proud my dad is of his kids. he has supported me since day one of my crazy, made-no-sense-plan to become a photographer. why would i make it? i had no education in photography, little but good training, and a crazy husband who just bought me a low level beginner camera that i didn't even know how to use. i still call them "buttons" and ethan has to help teach me. but my dad would ask what the goals are, how i'm getting the word out there, what i need help with, and i was off. supported. and now, even in his death, my family carried on that support and mom said she knew dad would be so proud of me for continuing on.
so just four days after losing my father, i was somehow moving around and being a photographer for a beautiful couple. we were walking up the stairs of the venue right after we had begun the day of getting ready photos at the bride's mom's home and i felt joy. then guilt. i looked at ethan and i told him i felt so happy. and i felt so guilty for already feeling joyful. because i immediately also felt sorrow. and tears came. and i missed dad.
he just said, that's how it'll be now. joy and sorrow. others have felt it before me, and now it's my turn. it's really a weird feeling.
the wedding day we photographed four days after my dad passed was not a coincidence. i will never be convinced otherwise. i knew they were hand picked by God the moment we met them. which was long before their wedding day just happened to be four days after a really rough and dark day for me and my family. but once i had to start thinking about doing work and trying to arrange when my family could grieve and have the visitation and funeral, i knew that it was meant to be to photograph them just days after the happenings. God is so good. He looks out for us. what a blessing all those people were to me. to my heart. to ethan. what felt like moments after the event, they were all there for us. somehow, on their wedding day. what people. what hearts. we are forever blessed by the way things unfolded. thankfulness, as i write now with tears in my eyes, fills my heart.
then it was wedding after wedding. traveling to different states, missing my family, hurting so deeply, feeling such great joy for our life and our job, missing my dad, all the feels that come along with grieving, and dealing with my chronic health problems.
wonderful memories, mostly, from what i can remember.
and a really hard time keeping up with things. good things and necessary things seemed useless. unimportant. too hard to accomplish. it wasn't for me anymore. except that it was, because it is my job. and my delight. but i forgot for a while. or was unable to see it.
this is when things started getting really twisted up in my heart about my job.
it is my job to get the work done after the wedding day.
it is my job to be excited about the beautiful wedding photos.
it is my job to as quickly as humanly possible get the photos to the public so people can experience the happy feels and the wedding people are pleased they are seeing previews in an appropriate timeframe.
it is my job to keep everyone happy.
it is my job to perform.
it is my job to maintain a certain happy wedding photographer glow.
but then i forgot something : i'm a human.
and, i've never actually considered what i do a job.
so something was wrong.
something was off. way off.
i wondered and crumbled at the thought of all my couple's expectations of me. no idea what they really were, because i was making things up about them in my head. worried, stressed, freaked out, fear of failure, grieving.
what used to be my delight was now just a job.
and (in my brain only) my couples and their hearts turned into cold computer screens who just wanted the photographs and didn't care about me as a grieving person.
none of that was real at all. in fact, completely the opposite.
but maybe the amazingness of my couples made me feel even more guilty because they were too good and i was given so much slack? i really don't even know. working through it as i type. because writing works so much out in me.
over the last week or so i have taken the time to reflect. with the help of my closest friends, some of my brides (what a beautiful blessing to realize and pause on that for a minute. BRIDES become who i talk to and turn to and trust. that doesn't happen in "business"), my church family and family, and of course, my ethan burt. i have been able to see the shift and the return that must occur. the return that i desire so deeply. the comeback.
this is my comeback.
in the beginning it was always about delight.
i told ethan i miss being the girl who was just grateful for a camera. and asked him what was that girl like? and we talked and talked. and i remembered. and i felt like her again. but i also felt anger and the realness of business and the ugly parts of the photography industry too. but quickly ethan reminded me i am to just stay in the delightfulness of it all, and the rest is for God to handle.
wow. do i really have permission to just delight? instead of "job"?
a job is a task or piece of work, especially one that is paid.
a delight is great pleasure. as in, she took great delight in telling your story.
that is the actual example that google told me. and i think it's perfectly fitting.
because it is a delight, i take great pleasure, in telling the stories.
that, is my life.
and even in the midst of tragedy, i didn't want to not do it.
i got lost in the business side of things, in the worrying and the numbers and the making sure we'll be "okay", whatever that even means. but i'm no good for that. also lost in the stress of making everyone happy, which is literally impossible and an incredibly horrible way to live a life.
i'm only good in the delighting. because God is in the delighting.
He tells me not to worry but that's all i've done since may. and i've lost my way in nearly all aspects of my life. worrying is truly no good. absolutely good for nothing.
what is good is God. and drawing nearer to Him. and if i'm given more time on earth, i don't know why i would or how i could waste any more of the precious time with useless worry. plus, it ages me more than necessary and that's just not cute. aging is great but extra worry wrinkles are not.
so, september. a refreshing month for me. the summer heat fades and the sweet smell and feels of fall begins. i have made really wise decisions concerning my health and have been feeling much better. it's zero fun sir to not eat sugar anymore but already when i have eaten some i lost two days as a functioning human and that is even less than zero fun. i'm learning. lyme disease is not really something i want to play around with anymore. i want it gone. i want it to no longer have victory over my body. so we are doing even more research, i am finally taking responsibility for what i must do to help myself out the most. and it's slowly improving me. this is a huge victory for my life of over 15 years in chronic pain.
another reason to immediately feel grateful for my work. that i am as able as i am to keep going on season five of my wedding photography company. all the glory and praise to God.
this is my comeback. if you've been with us since the beginning, thank you for sticking it out. thank you for being here for me in my rough season. my long, dark day.
and if you're new here, welcome. thank you so much for sticking around long enough to read this entire confession. there can be much fear in confessing, especially when in business. you're supposed to always have it together and always be on top of things and "never let them see you sweat". well, i'm not business. i'm human. and i sweat like a mess anytime i get even the tiniest bit nervous. i am so thankful to have the freedom to be human instead of business.
and that is my promise. the biggest part of my comeback. to just be that human bethany again. instead of getting lost in business and what "should-be's". blah. no good came of that bethany. but delighting bethany sounds a lot better. that me is best.
that's what i'm good at.
that's what i'm ready to be again.
i delight in the work that follows the wedding day.
i delight in knowing what true happiness is and how i can share that with
people while they wait on their photographs.
i delight in sharing online the beautiful stories and the pretty wedding photos.
i delight in thankfulness that i am trusted to document such important days.
i delight in the realness of life and the truly amazing people who want me to be
that instead of a performer.
that is the real wedding photographer glow.