The days before we left Arkansas and moved back to Southern California, Jon and I made a commitment to each other to work hard to not get caught back up in the life we had given up in the first place. We were certain we didn't want to lead a life chasing after things that only chained us down. We wanted to be Eternity minded.
But now that it has been almost two years since we've moved back, we're realizing that it was easier said then done.
Our whole desire with Stark Love Photography was to develop a passion into a life seeking after God. We weren't always certain how that would look, but we knew that was what we wanted. But as our work improved and our business started growing, we found ourselves back in the race after success, money, and the American Dream. And it's exhausting, heart breaking, and overwhelming.
Stark Love was meant for one purpose, to love on each other and people with our joy in photo taking all to express our love for God. And our greatest reveal to our commitment having been abandoned was specifically looking at the question "are we still loving?"
To answer that, I had to ask "what is love".
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."1 Corinthians 13:4-8
At first thought, I could say "yes, we're still loving." But when I replaced my name in front of each one, I found myself uneased by the truth.
Jhen is patient.
Jhen is kind.
Jhen does not envy.
Jhen does not boast.
Jhen is not proud.
Jhen is not rude.
Jhen is not self-seeking.
Jhen is not easily angered.
Jhen keeps no records of wrongs.
Jhen does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
Jhen always protects.
Jhen always trusts.
Jhen always hopes.
Jhen always perseveres.
If I took it even another step further and ended it with my husband;
Jhen is patient with Jon. Most of the time, no. I'm easily frustrated when he makes mistakes or doesn't put his pants away and leaves them on the floor by his side of the bed. Or when he doesn't close his dresser drawer after he's done.
Jhen is kind to Jon. I probably yell more often then I praise or encourage him.
Jhen does not envy Jon. I can probably cop to the fact that I do at times think that I should be the one working and getting out of the house, because I actually do enjoy work and sometimes I'll even accuse Jon of using work as a way to escape "home" because sometimes that is what I want.
Jhen does not boast to Jon. I often point out my achievements to Jon, both my past and present often in such a way to make me in some way better than him.
Jhen is not rude to Jon. Jon constantly points out that I roll my eyes at him. Sometimes I do it purposefully other times, I'm unaware, but the reality is that I'm disrespectful.
Jhen is not self-seeking with Jon. I'm constantly putting responsibilities on Jon because I just plain don't want to get up. I can easily guilt him into doing anything, from getting me a cup of water even though he just got settled into bed, or to change Joss' diaper because I'm too comfortable in my position on the couch in front of the tv.
Jhen is not easily angered with Jon. Well, that statement in itself can't be further from the truth. I really struggle with being so easily angered with the both of them.
Jhen keeps no records of wrongs against Jon. Sometimes I'll mentally point out a wrong I just felt Jon do to me so that the next time I can use it against him.
Jhen does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth of Jon. Sometimes I do encourage and even high five my husband when he wins his road rage fight on the freeway over another driver.
Jhen always protects Jon. I have at times spoken ill things of Jon to another person or didn't defend him when ill things were spoken of him.
Jhen always trusts Jon. I probably try to overrule Jon's decisions about our lives or business more times that I trust he knows what's best. I even have a hard time fully giving him the ability to shoot alone for a photo shoot, unsure if he'll produce what I think I can produce.
Jhen always hopes for Jon. I've admitted both to Jon and to God that I have allowed thoughts of things and people to replace Jon.
Jhen always perseveres. I had to keep Jon out of this one, since the truth is, I've given up on so many things in my life and sometimes, I've given up on Jon. The thought of quitting has occurred.
I would see that I'm actually a wretched person and wife in need of some serious forgiveness and life changes and I'm certainly due condemnation from anyone. I'm certain of the gasps and judgement towards me when reading this. If I can't even love my husband fully, how can I fully love anyone else. And if I can't love anyone else the way I'm supposed to, how on earth are we deserving of the title "Stark Love"?
But oh, this is where Grace, made perfect in the Blood of Christ covers me and compels me to dive deeper into allowing Him the ability to love perfectly through me.
I don't want to claim to be someone I am not. Hence why I went ahead and listed my reality. I'm truly a struggling sinner, but ONE WHO HAS BEEN SAVED and is commanded to love and to give it freely because it has been freely shown to me.
Stark Love Photography has lost it's sight on its purpose, goals, and passion. I have lost sight on our purpose, our goals, and our passion. Because at times, I have lost sight of Christ.
But I love that I am passionately pursued by a loving God wanting to bring me back to the life He knows I'm created to live. So Stark Love is working on turning our eyes back to Him. Stark Love is intently learning how to Love from here to Eternity
* This specific post was inspired by my time spent reading Francis Chan's, Crazy Love, and reading The Bible.