you deserve a seat here.

We were sitting in a nonuniform circle, partaking in the awkward string of first day of class introductions and stirrings in office chairs. It’s my intro to digital photo class. My professor is from India and he has the richest, most beautiful accent. One after another my classmates say, “This is my first official class in photography.”

I’m new here.

I’m not sure what I’m doing.

One girl sitting across from me says her name and states, “I’m not good at photography, so…”

My professor interrupts her. He questions her with curiosity, compassion. A light in his eye, a lump in his throat. “Who told you that?”

Who told you that this was your name? Who told you this couldn’t change? Who told you that you weren’t good enough? Who told you that you can’t measure up? 

She answered, “Well, me.”

He leans his head towards the girl and says firmly yet playful sarcasm, “You don’t count.”


You are your own worst critic. And those thoughts? They don’t count towards the truth of who you truly are.

You have room to grow, babe. There’s no denying that each of us have things to improve – we should complain less, stretch our legs more often, create more interesting compositions, look up at the sky more. We should be kind and consistent, hard working and at peace with our lives. And you can change to experience growth and breakthrough in your life, but you never have to change to be loved. 

You might think that you don’t belong here. Like your place in the circle doesn’t make sense, that it’s a mistake that you’re learning how the inner workings of your industry flows from the professionals or that the way he looks at you in incomparably breathtaking.

Your being __there__ is not a mistake. You being loved is not a mistake. You stepping out into brave situations is not a mistake. You working hard and dancing freely is not a mistake. The joy you feel? It’s not for someone else, it’s a gift for you.

The only mistake is that you believe you’re here to prove yourself based on human’s measurement of success, not to build the life God is calling you to and to create a more beautiful world all around you.

You deserve a seat in the circle.

So, introduce yourself. Assume challenges will come. Ask lots of questions – after all, we’re all new here. Imagine the growth you want to see. Celebrate the tiny victories. And never forget that the voice that counts calls you 

Chosen. 

Redeemed. 

Beloved. 

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