Do We Choose; Do We Live?

I have hit a wall with my work that requires one of two things from me: mass production of what I’m already doing (a task for which I’m too tired), or a well-planned, very careful push to do better (a direction that scares me to death). I know the basics, and they have been enough for me – but there are photos I have seen others take that are still in my heart to try and make myself.

But I know this: I can’t just push forward because I have a goal I want to achieve and leave my heart behind. I’ve been groping about for something real, clinging to “Alleluia,” because it’s the only thing that makes me come alive, heart, soul, and body right now.

I am pretty broken back here, and I fought broken long enough that “whole” seems out of reach. I feel LESS. And EMPTY. And HUMBLED. And HOPEFUL.

I have been mulling “choice” around lately. What choices I have in front of me, how past choices have affected me today, whether I can choose again.

I think about photography classes, weigh film against digital, outsourcing against partnership or doing everything on my own, unschooling against conventional school, church against knowing God. I choose what photos I will process and deliver; I am learning to choose what I shoot instead of shooting everything. I choose my clients and my clients choose me – this is what my brand is for, to make that choice easier for both of us.

All choice involves risk, because choice is born of “one and not another.” Sometimes it feels better not to have choices, to see everything laid out in front of you. But my restless heart won’t accept safety – it too often requires legalism. I crave freedom won in grace to choose what I will live, believing that so long as I live in God, my work is praise and glory.

I’m not sure when I “chose” to try to make my name bigger. It was subtle, based in envy, and a belief that I was meant to be more than I am. I may still be meant for that, but my brand was never meant to define me, or to leave God out.

He said GO this year – but He also said He would go before me. GO didn’t mean *I* had to make my life happen all by myself. Greatness that you win for yourself comes at a price, and I’m not willing to pay it. I won’t lose myself and everyone I care about to pursue an identity God hasn’t given me.

He’s filling me up again in this breaking. Teaching me not to hate, helping me let go of jealousy, letting me be very small so I can take others where they are and love them deeply, the way He does. He wants me to SEE, and to LIVE, and to LISTEN.

Professionalism, as I understand it, isn’t an erasure of self. It is simply a mature approach to keeping promises, being honest, and clearly communicating about your expectations. It isn’t “saying this thing” or “acting that way.” It is being you, confidently, kindly, and humbly.

And you know, I can choose each one of these things where I am. They aren’t dependent on finances or ability or brainpower. These things come from a heart at rest, from a heart that shows up after the to-do list is put away.

It’s a risk, choosing to become less, to allow Someone Else to shape my destiny – but I am beginning to see that shaping it myself is a bigger risk. Not seeing, not living, not listening is a bigger risk.

I am going to try something different. I’m going to CHOOSE what photos I take instead of trying to get ALL OF THEM. I am going to take more care for my settings, my backdrops, my client interactions. I’m going to WRITE. I’m going to listen to my heart, to the Alleluia and the things that make me come alive to God. I’m going to follow desire instead of obligation.

And at the end of the day? I’ve got a pretty good bet that I won’t be alone.


Linking up with Joy today for her Life Unmasked.

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11 thoughts on “Do We Choose; Do We Live?

  1. SimplyDarlene

    Miss Kelly –

    “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
    ~ John 15:5-8 (NKJV)

    We are meant for more than we are… meant to reflect Him that is in us.

    But you know that.


  2. Maureen

    Kelly, these are some of your most beautiful photos, magazine-worthy IMHO. The palettes to which you’ve matched them are lovely; both together are how I imagine a gorgeous letterpress-printed book of poems with your images would look.

    That first photo has inspired me to write a poem.

  3. Kelly Sauer Post author

    Thank you, Maureen – I am flattered. I shot these at an apple orchard in Connecticut recently when we went up to see Pete’s family. I wanted something really beautiful…

    I look forward to seeing your poem.

  4. Danielle

    I’m with you in some of this struggle, Kelly. The word that’s come to my mind is “craft.” I want to “craft” my life, not just let it happen to me. Obviously, things happen outside of our control. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about being intentional, kind of the way you’re talking about choosing. And it can be scary. And you’re right, choosing one thing means NOT choosing another and that’s what I can get stumbled by, especially if maybe I want both! I guess that’s where the abiding in Him comes in and letting Him lead. Hugs to you.

  5. laura

    Alleluia. I can’t imagine what “getting better” in your work might mean, Kelly. It already brings me to tears with beauty. But I understand this need to grow,this desire to be the clay. There is a certain mark in work that is shaped from this place. I think it might be the fingerprint of the Divine.

  6. joy thigpen

    you are definitely not alone here.

    this is the constant work.

    the “work/jobs” we do for others, when they are aligned with what we are made to do, don’t feel like work at all. the things i do best and that i and others find the most satisfaction in and that people want to hire me to do….those things rarely feel like work to me. those are the things i get lost in and feel really alive and tapped in and occasionally catch myself in the moment and say, “i can’t believe i get paid to do this!” (though i didn’t always in the beginning). its easy for me feel like i am being used by God as a conduit or amplification of His grace in thees moments.

    the hard part for me is all the moments in between. the details of running a business. this is not my sweet spot. yet its super important. and yes there has to be some creative and constantly adaptive combination of discipline, hard work, and outsourcing or partnership. this part is hard because it plays into my weaknesses. i don’t feel nearly as often that i am operating in the best way i should/could. and this is where the striving starts. i know i want things to be different/better. the main drive is to find a way to get to one of those sweet spots again. there is work to be done to make that happen but the real work is in the abiding. to at once “cease striving” and rest in His provision and leading but to also be listening enough to know which steps He wants you to take versus which ones am I just tempted to take myself in my anxiety to make things happen myself.

    i find myself back in that place fairly often. its good though. and its very refining. that “humbled and hopeful” feeling is a great place to be.

    this is a beautiful post, both words and images, thank you for sharing it. i’m excited to see what comes next for you!

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