Carry Each Other: Third Sunday of Advent

On this third Sunday of Advent, we invite you to read this reflection from Jeremy Cowart:

Why do some people who experience success describe still feeling empty inside?

Marcus Buckingham said, "Many of us feel stress and get overwhelmed not because we're taking on too much, but because we're taking on too little of what really strengthens us."

Being busy as a professional photographer did not fill me up. I realized that I shouldn’t aim for greatness and stop there.

Greatness should serve a greater purpose.

So I began gathering friends and giving away photos to people in need. We shared our stories on social media and the idea turned into a global movement of photographers, hairstylists, and other volunteers who give back. We have an annual event called Help-Portrait the first Saturday of every December.

Since that first day, the numbers have grown: half a million portraits have been given away to nearly 100,000 people in over 70 countries and every U.S. state.

But it's not the numbers that count. It's the stories.

Dignity. Beauty. Value. A sense of self-worth. These are all the things being given away that material possessions can't deliver.

We’ve seen elderly women have their hair and makeup done for the first time in their lives.

We’ve seen grown men have their first-EVER picture taken outside of their jail mugshot.

We’ve restored family photos after natural disasters.

We’ve had children see their own faces for the first time.

We’ve seen tears after people realize that they can maybe get a new job with their new headshot.

We’ve heard photographers say it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever done with their cameras.

We’ve seen photography competitors become photography community after serving together.

It all made me realize (and continues to remind me) that we’ve all been given an opportunity to use what we have in our hands to help someone else. In fact, it’s our responsibility: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

During this season of Advent, my goal is to not only rest and reflect on the gift God gave us through the life of his son, Jesus Christ, but to keep busy doing his work, the work that truly satisfies.

- Jeremy Cowart

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