When “I don’t know” doesn’t seem so bad

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A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a workshop session for the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. While most workshops were focused the usage of off-camera lighting, how to organize hard drives as searchable file sorting systems and the ins and outs of Photoshop, I was asked to speak on the transition from college to career. In a room full of college-aged students, I listed ten things I wish I knew when I graduated college. My goal was to be transparent about the successes I’ve had and the mistakes I’ve made in regards to my career since school. I left plenty of time for discussion – my favorite part! Usually when I speak, I try to think through some of the questions that I will be asked in advance so that I am less likely to be caught off guard, but on this day I forgot to think about one obvious question: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

It’s a logical question considering the topic at hand, but it caught me off-guard. My answer: “I don’t know. Wherever the Lord puts me.”

The “planner” in me hates that answer. I often think, “If I could just know what exactly I’m supposed to do, I’ll do whatever it takes…even if the Lord calls me to become a CPA (heaven forbid).”

Instead, like a well-designed file in Photoshop, my life has been a compilation of layers. God, the designer, has carefully chosen when to reveal each layer to me – all in His timing. Looking back, I realize He knows me best.

While I’m not proud to admit it, the Lord has had to teach me that worldly success doesn’t matter. I’ve caught myself at times caring more about the things of this world than eternal glory.

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17

1 John has been on my heart the past few weeks. This book is full of authoritative teachings reaffirming the cores of Christianity. It reminds me that all that matters is living a life for Him. I believe the Lord has great plans for me – I’ve already had worldly success in many ways and I consider myself very blessed. But ultimately, I am to rely on what HE has for me, and less on my own works.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

I recently placed a sticky note on my computer that reads: “Fulfillment can only be found through HIM.” I read it every day. This note is a reminder that as long as I am working hard and doing my part as the Lord directs, worldly success is not what will give me fulfillment while on earth and is not what I am ultimately judged by after death. It doesn’t matter how many weddings I book in a year, how much money I make or how I compare to others in the creative industry. In the end, I will have to answer according to how I have lived my life for Him.

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” Hebrews 9:27 (NIV)

In regards to my career, I’m not sure what I will be doing next year let alone ten years from now. But I’ve come to realize that I’m okay with watching Him reveal the layers one at a time. For now, I have a husband I love, a church I deeply care for, and a career I enjoy. The Lord is good to me, He knows me well and I’m grateful He’s put me on this path. I know, deep in my heart, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. When I think of it that way, “I don’t know” doesn’t seem so bad after all.