“I see you’re sitting on MY bench” is what I heard when I sat on a make-shift bench by the lake. Made of a wooden plank placed across two stones, it clearly didn’t belong to anyone. Yet as this man and his companion approached, he clearly informed me that he was there the night before and it was his. Having been to this same spot several times before, I knew he was lying.
As someone who has had a hard time speaking up for themselves growing up I sometimes look for confrontations as an adult, waiting for opportunities to somehow make up for all those times where my voice was silent. This was shaping up to be another one of those moments, where I would somehow take back what was once taken from me.
As I sat on that bench with my headphones on, I barely acknowledged the couple as they started to gather wood for the fire that would be behind me. They clearly expected me to leave. My entire reason for being there was to take some photos by the lake and to peacefully be in God’s presence as the sun started to set. This was exactly the opposite of what I had envisioned, and as I sat and gritted my teeth I decided to do the opposite of what I wanted to do; I got up, wished the couple a lovely evening, and left.
“Great! I really demonstrated God’s love” I thought to myself. Yet the moment still ate away at me, and I didn’t let it go. The man seemed so brash, that I hated to have simply bowed down like that. I thought about it the day after, and all the things I could have said. Well, it so happened that God gave me the opportunity to say all those things as when I went back to the lake that next day, the couple was already there in the same spot. “Great,” I thought to myself, “this guy again,” and I decided to just smile and walk right past them. As I walked by them I stopped, turned around, and decided that I was going to go back and use this moment to get over a fear of mine.
As I walked up to them I said “would you guys like me to take your picture?” They were excited and said sure, asked about my camera, and asked if I wanted to sit down with them by the fire.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”Exodus 14:14
I’m still not completely over my fear of taking portraits of random strangers, but I guess since I had bumped into them the night before they weren’t truly strangers, and perhaps the moment wasn’t so random either. What I did learn however is that although we may lose our voices at times in our lives, the one that God wants us to find and use most of all is His.