Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Most Important Thing I've Ever Blogged

I told Anjie, a photographer, that I'd learned how to set my camera to take black and white photos. She nodded and said: "I love black and white. You'll learn a lot, shooting in black and white." But she didn't elaborate. I don't know why I didn't ask her what she meant, but I haven't stopped thinking about her words. I guess you might say I've received them as a challenge.

I always feel a little devil-may-care when I set my camera to take black and white photos. After all, I can take any color photo and turn all (or parts) of it black and white through editing. But I'm not clever enough to do the opposite. If I take a photo in black and white, there's no going back; the photo will remain black and white. And color is so much of a thing; it really is.


Still, over and over, I've taken my camera and set it to black and white. I've studied my colorless photos and held whispery conversations with an imaginary Anjie. What did you mean, Anjie? I ask. What should I be seeing? 

And I could call her up in a heartbeat. I could text her, message her on facebook, or e-mail her. Anjie loves me with her whole, huge heart, and I know: Anjie would answer any question I could think to ask her, and right away.

But, at this point, I don't think I want her to tell me what I'm supposed to be learning. I want to figure it out for myself.


I'm not there, yet, but I have a few thoughts, the first of which is that color distracts. Without color, the other elements of a photograph become more important. My second thought is that very little in a black and white photograph is black or white. Most everything is grey.


And, you know, I think life is like black and white photography. Most everything is grey. Very little is black or white. I don't mean to oversimplify, but--do you know?--black is essentially the result of an absence of light, while white is the result of too much light.

To me, grey represents the freedom from extremes. It represents my God-given free will and all the God-given space I have in which to exercise it. It represents the vast area in which I get to wrestle with the Lord and figure Him--and His plan for my life--out for myself.

Friends, I want you to know: I'm in hot pursuit of Him. I'm conversating with Him and chasing Him down in the pages of His very own Book. Still, I have so much to learn. I know I'm seeing through a glass darkly. I know I've touched but the hem of His garment. It's been enough, as it turns out, to make me whole. But there's so much more of Him to grasp! 

I'm reaching.

I love it when, like my friend Anjie, like my Pastor David!, you spark my interest, point me in a direction. I love it when you tell me what you're thinking, what you're learning, how you're living, where you're standing. I'm honored to share the same sorts of things with you.

I love it when you say to me: "This has really worked for me," or, "Check out this book (or these scriptures) when you have a chance." 

But please hear me: I will never allow you to bully me. I will never allow you to tell me how I must live my life, how I must vote, or how I must interpret the Word of God. I will never allow you to suggest that I don't know Him or that I'm not going to make it to heaven, same as you. I will never allow you to cram my very own Jesus down my very own throat.

Even if your political and theological viewpoints match mine perfectly, the minute you get up in my face, it's over between us. I'll neither hate you nor stop loving you, but I'll shut you down and out. I won't allow you to speak into my life. Unfriend. Unfollow.

And if what you're seeking is someone to tell you how to live your life, you're in the wrong space. Send me an e-mail (normalgirl at hotmail dot com); I'll be glad to provide you with a whole list of bloggers who would love to get up in your face. They're much more popular than I.

The best I have for you is this: if you choose to seek Him, He won't hide from you.

Oh, and--if you're still here--regarding black and white photography?, I've learned a third thing. It's just and simply this: it's possible to sparkle in the grey, which is not true of the absence or excess of light. Just the grey. See me do it. Just sit back and watch.

My Very Own, Fred Flintstone Toes


  1. This is a breath of fresh air.

  2. I love the sparkles. And, I like that in black and white I can see the composition of a picture really well. I can tell if the form is strong enough to move my eye through the whole piece. You do a fabulous job of putting the most interesting part of the photo in the golden mean. And your form is strong. I like your pics!

  3. Brandee, you know you've written my heart here. Love, love, love. God surely will not hide from you, or me, and our colors are more similar to one another than we know. Thanks for putting this to words.

    Love, Esther

  4. These are the shades of gray I like to dwell on. Not the black and white, but the variations in the shading. ps, love the glitter nails. :)

  5. THE most important thing, in-deed. love it ALL.
    love independent, not-to-be-bullied YOU.

    walk free. stand tall. amen.

  6. Black and white tells a story doesn't it? I had my whole labor with Corvan taken in black and white and yes, it brings out beauty and shuts down the ugly in certain ways. I'd like to live my life like that a bit.

  7. I like looking at black and white photos too. Very... architectural, if that makes any sense. I notes shapes and lines and forms more.

    Like the photos!

  8. Hi Brandee,

    I see textures in your b&w photos that grab my attention more than they might in color.

    I also feel like I am walking into a conversation I didn't know was going on. May you feel safe in the grey, my friend. :) I am naive to any recent issues on blogworld, but I love your heart that chases hard after God, that delights in his word, and I am convinced that our Huge God isn't tied to just one side of the many non-essential doctrine spectrums we humans sometimes put him in. Thus... we are safe to live in mystery some days, to see the beauty of diverse opinions in the Jesus-world, and to wholeheartedly say, "God, I want to love you and delight you." All else fades away, well, to grey. :)

    Warmly, respectfully, naively,
    Jennifer Dougan

    1. You are so very wise, Jennifer. Thank you. God bless you.

  9. you DO sparkle (and shine and shine and shine).

    jumbly thoughts:

    -the rope and the bell! complete brilliance.

    -me too with the needing to figure it out myself. (which is why i can still only do one side of a rubik's cube, even though just 2.5 seconds and a google search stands between me and the answer. i am GOING to decipher this thing.)

    -i have the sad tendency to speak too strongly or too wimpily; i am very rarely at the right volume. :) but i do love you so, and i don't doubt for a minute that you know Jesus every bit as much as i do (okay, quite likely more), and i'm so glad to be following hard after Him in such good company.

    -love you AND your toes.

    1. Oh, I would let YOU teach me. In your company, I would be meek and quiet as a lamb. I know your type. You're the quiet one who shows more than tells. I love that type.

  10. This is an amazing post honey and your pictures are spot on! Much love to you!

  11. oh i love this post! sparkle in the grey lovely lady. thank you for your lovely comments on my blog, they mean such a lot and get this...i didn't even know you could set your camera to black and white!! that's what a novice i am! i wish you were able to come and play here as well xxxxx love this x

  12. Absolutely wonderful piece! Like you, I am in hot pursuit of Him and I am enjoying the journey. I don't ever want to stop learning and exploring. You are an inspiration! Blessings to you!

  13. smiles...nice bit of gospel in that...smiles
    and i love the grey...and B&w pics...the clothes line one is def a fav....i think it is learning to play with the shadows...and that shadow adds texture to the light...smiles

  14. i love love love love this post and love love love that you indeed sparkle in the grey and the "light" that shines through the black and the white. You are wise and you 'get it' and you 'get me' which is amazing in itself........ i love you so much

  15. First of all - I love the pictures. It makes me want to set aside time with my camera for only black and white (if I can figure this out).
    Second - freedom from extremes - yes and amen.
    Third - I just get this - the not being bullied into believing, thinking, etc.