To Be, or Not to Be...?


I’m taking a pause from everything to breathe out some thoughts, asking for insight.

Working as a creative (it feels pompous to use that title), I’m finding a struggle that has been bothering me for years. Until now, it’s something I believe needs to be confronted. It’s simply a crossroads of being appealing to the masses, or to knowingly go another way where others are telling you not to go.


Growing up as a kid, many of my friends listened to Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, thinking this was the best out there. We’d play our NES or Sega Genesis games to the soundtrack of Dr. Feelgood and other hair metal classics. I didn’t like the music, even though I was sort of supposed to. But to belong to the group, I didn’t speak up. I didn’t have the language to ask what was wrong with me to not like the same music, but the question was there without words.


After a short time, a cousin of mine from another sphere of life, he showed me a couple of albums from Metallica and the Sex Pistols. Similarly, I didn’t have the language to express what I felt, but instantly I found something that I could call me. It felt more raw, had energy, and it made me tap my foot along to the music. Eventually came music like Nirvana and the Melvins, and then came the competition of mind.


After discovering I had my own taste, I began classifying people based on what music they would or wouldn’t listen to. It was shallow in effort. If you wouldn’t at least give them an honest try, I would consider you boring or square. To think the only art/music worth checking out came from top 40 radio or popular crowd acceptance, it felt choking to me. It felt like

My view created somewhat of a conundrum. For the most part it was a lighthearted point of view. I still had friends to an extent. At times I would be quickly dismissed as weird or boring by not knowing about or liking mainstream things. I was fine with it. However on occasion, it would turn into ugly ridicule and shaming by “friends”, which drove me further into feeling isolated in the world. The conundrum would be a mixed bag of hiding who I really am in efforts to gain friendship.


In the least expected ways, my isolated self was found by Jesus. That’s a story worth telling on it’s own. In short though, I went from being isolated based on outward impressions, to being accepted completely. Jesus gave me a family in church, of friends who accepted my presence and friendship. It felt like starting over again in so many refreshing ways. The acceptance by Jesus and His followers (my new friends) transformed me from the inside. Differences to a large extent were celebrated, or at least respected. I began to be healed.


Years later, forks in the road would come. Some friends would leave the circle to pursue other avenues or callings. It was a sad departure at times, but there was a general respect that Jesus was leading them. But at times, other forks would be friction in differences. As the group sort of dissolved, it became a new journey of combining a care for friends to also caring about myself.

Over the course of time, Jesus began showing me a poem prayer that has had many layers and focuses. Generally I’ve focused on this part, to be used and usable by God.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;…
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

As a photographer, I can go on journeys with Jesus like I couldn’t before. Like the music, it’s been a way to express my heart, my quirks, and also a place to learn beyond my own impressions. Jesus has greatly blessed me in leading me to many unexpected doors. Again like the music, it’s been a passion of mine to share what I see, what I enjoy, and what I learn from.


In finding my own voice and relationship with God, it’s not always easy to be in church community, at least it’s not for me. Yes, I have many friends who love and accept me. I have many who mentor me in various ways. But there are times when differences arise, the kinds that can make serious divisions among people. Splits arise in choosing yourself or the greater good of the community. Those splits aren’t always black and white.

I belong to a church that has an age-old mantra, “everyone gets to play.” It’s not about one person getting to do and be everything to everyone else. It’s an effort to involve everyone at some level. It’s an encouraging mantra. However, going back to those splits, I’ve seen some hard divisions arise. Usually it’s been other people and me just the observer.


O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

When you (me) find yourself in a position to contribute to a group or community, it can be rather refreshing. To know you (me) have something to offer in a positive fashion, it can be rather validating. But maybe you (me) find yourself being blessed in your offerings or perspectives, but sometimes you (me) are told to put yourself (myself) aside for the greater good. Sometimes it’s easy to see the greater good and swallow your (my) pride, but sometimes it’s rather difficult.

To see a certain way, to see outside the accepted box, it’s not always easy to accept the box. When you (me) find yourself (myself) surrounded by people who seemingly seem fine with or oblivious to the box, the question arises should you (me) stop mentioning the box? Is it worth going against the grain? Is it loving to accept you (me) both see the box and a way out, and yet seek companionship by remaining in the box? Or perhaps is there a realization the box is a tool that can actually be used beyond the box?

Learning to find a middle ground isn’t always easy. Learning to put others ahead of you (me) can come at a cost. Do you (me) stuff your ability to see your (my) view to the point where you (me) forget who you are? Or do you (me) continue to share, regardless if it’s accepted are not?


I say all of this to say where I am at, off and on. In the prayer to put others first, it can prove to be very painful. Though I don’t seek to be understood, I still want to communicate my vision as best as I can. It can be frustrating to lack to the ability to speak. Being who I am, I typically put myself into my work both big and small. But, there are times when I feel I’m back to hearing a world of Dr. Feelgood, wanting to open the window and jump out, or hide in the room with earphones on to another tune. Or, am I stuck in my own box?

How does one lovingly remain to move forward?

I'm all ears...

I'm all ears...

John DoukasComment