#OurChicagoStories Summer 2017
Yet another day of sharing stories and capturing photos, ending with a heart full and a mind reflective. This one was a special one, as is every OCS afternoon at Chelli's studio. To be completely transparent, this one was special because this one was challenging for me. A week before this shoot, I found out my uncle had unexpectedly and tragically passed away. There was a whole lot of heartbreak and confusion within me that week. With the help of a lot of very dear family, I was able to make it back to Ohio for the services and be with everyone to try to process through another loss for my dad and his siblings. That being said, the services were on a Friday and Saturday and OCS was on a Sunday. So the day of this shoot, I woke up at 4:30 Ohio time (3:30 Chicago time), hopped in a uber to the Cleveland airport and flew back into Chi after a short 36 hours in Akron. I arrived home, got myself a donut (because my soul needed it), and headed to Missio Dei. That Sunday I was in need of some joy filled praise, a hope filled message, a spiritual hug- but that Sunday the sermon was about storms, about how life is broken and hard and we go through seasons of constant heartbreak, the beauty in those seasons is that the LORD is our hope and He is constant. Was I in need of that message? Heck yeah. Did it just increase all the emotions I was feeling? Absolutely. I arrived at the studio that afternoon with eyes that wouldn't stop looking teary, with a brain that just wanted a nap, but with palms that were open as ever to what the Lord was going to do that afternoon.
Rachel & I had discussed the week prior that we wanted to be more intentional about asking each other questions while taking photos before people arrived. A way of centering in on the heart of OCS. A way of forcing ourselves to reflect on the journey that WE were on, not just listening to other people's journeys. We started by taking photos of me, and Rach began her question with, "Dev, this may make you cry." She then asked, "How do you see God in this season of life? Tell me about the moments you have felt a deep closeness with Him in comparison to the moments you've felt an broken distance from Him." And as she predicted, the tears filled my eyes as I began to verbalize the jumble of thoughts in my head. Head over to my post about how God has been showing up to read about the reality of God in my life right now.
What I think was beautiful about starting out the afternoon in that was was it put me in a mindset where I was ready to ask questions, get deep, while also trying to make people feel comfortable and heard. And BOY did that mindset make for a powerful afternoon. Seriously. Everyone came ready to share, ready to be heard. We were the most intentional about asking deep questions while shooting that we have been so far. We talked about Chicago, we talked about where we all came from, we talked about how we see God here, we talked about beautiful seasons with the Lord and hard seasons with the Lord. I left that day feeling like I truly understood a part of each person more than I had when we started our time there. And guys, that's the heart of this all!! We WANT to create space for people to share, for people to be vulnerable, to be heard, to be given time to reflect, to see where they are at in their journey and to talk about where they have been in the journey.
Then, as we do every time, we started receiving emails of written answers to questions. Every single person involved in this passion project has blown me away with their answers. I am always honored that people feel comfortable to share their story with us, and amazed that they are willing for us to share it on our blogs and on social media. There is power and beauty in stories, and my heart feels full every time someone allows us to see a glimpse into their Chicago story.
When do you feel most empowered and comfortable in your own skin? This. Question. It certainly makes you think. When I first sat down to answer this I really had to think. I think we live our lives so often NOT comfortable or empowered. I think it is so easy to put ourselves down, we are always our biggest critic. So to be given the opportunity to really process through this, to think "when are the moments I truly feel empowered and comfortable?", is so vitally important to understanding ourselves. I think it reveals a part of our heart that we hide. What I love about reading the answers to these questions are how often they vary SO MUCH, everyone is so very different and I think that makes the world even more beautiful.
What brought you to Chicago? A question that we all in Chicago are very use to answering, as a city of transplants I think we are all well aware that there is a story behind someone living here in Chicago. Daily, I am asked by my clients at the salon what brought me here. I have a short answer, I have a long answer, it somehow varies each time I tell it even though the story is the same. I think that by answering this question so many times I have discovered more and more the deep reasons of what brought me here, why I felt so confident in the move, and why I truly felt like Chicago was where I was suppose to go. So I love giving people the opportunity to tell this part of their story, I think it gives you so much insight into who they are, and what they feel their purpose in this city is.
If you're in a season of distance from God, what are your questions / struggles? On the contrary, if you're experiencing closeness with God, how might you encourage our brothers and sisters who are wrestling with believing God is real and for us? This was a new question this time around. We knew the group of folks we had at this shoot were all believers so we thought it was vital to provide them a space to talk about how God is showing up, especially because for both Rachel and I OCS has been a space where we are seeing God's hand so clearly in this season. I think we can all learn from other people's seasons of life, and it's so important to provide space for people to be vulnerable about where they are at with God- I think as Christians we can feel the pressure to present a "perfect" and "healthy" relationship with God at all times, but that is just not the reality and I think there is a purpose in each season so sharing where your heart is at is so very important.
Our Chicago Stories Summer 2017
Our Chicago Stories has become one of the most life giving things for both Rachel & I. We are learning lessons about life, about this city, about the people doing life all around us, and most importantly how God is in it ALL. We are so excited to continue sharing stories, and cannot wait for another magical Sunday this upcoming October.