top of page
One Photograph
by Marcy Lytle

We watched one of those Christmas movies a few weeks ago about a photographer that felt as though she’d lost her purpose behind the camera.  After all, was she making any sort of different in the world?  So she was considering taking a job at a desk, stepping away from her keen eye of photography, because this new job meant more money and status.  She was quite discouraged and in a quandary, and in stepped the man.  (You know, there’s always a good guy nearby in these Hallmark films…)

She reconnects with an old friend in her home town she’s come to visit, and it’s a town that was ravaged by a flood years prior, a flood where she took photographs of the devastation…and the hope.  He showed her that her photos were pinned up in restaurants all around the town, and had been there for years.  That did encourage her, but that was long ago…

Back to the current part of the story, this photographer (I can’t recall her name) found a stuffed reindeer in a park that looked new, and so she had posted on the local media in hopes that the little child that lost it might have a parent that


ENCOURAGEMENT - jan 2023 - simple truths - one.jpg
photo courtesy of Doug Gephardt

would see the post, and retrieve the reindeer.  As the movie was nearing the end and the photographer was headed to the airport to return to the city to take that job behind the desk, she needed to make a quick stop.  Someone had responded, and she was happy to return the reindeer.

As she handed the reindeer over to the grandfather (he met her with his granddaughter), he asked her if she was from the city, and proceeded to tell her how he had grown up there and moved away.  But when he saw photographs of the storm devastation, one particular photo stood out.  That depiction of the pain in the faces of the people that had suffered loss prompted him to give back, to give big, and he was a big donor toward the restoration of the city.

Stunned, the photographer thanked him and felt this overwhelming sense of gratefulness and purpose flood her heart.  The picture he referred to was one she took.  She said nothing, but the realization that just one of her photos moved a man to donate and rebuild an entire town sent her back to her city.  She turned down the other job, and decided to stay behind the camera, with a new purpose (and of course, the young guy – her first love).

That movie and its message stuck with me, and encouraged me, too.   

Sometimes, we feel as though what we do, what we love to do, is not making one bit of difference in this world for good.  Surely, wiping snotty noses all day does no one any good.  Or perhaps the mundane showing up to clean someone else’s house has to be the worst job ever.  What about working retail, dealing with impatient customers?  Any number of jobs that we all do seem worthless at moments, especially at the start of a new year, when we evaluate what it is that we’re doing.

But it might be that we’re doing just what we’re supposed to be doing.  And while it’s unlikely that a reindeer might be left in the park down the street and we meet up with a stranger that inadvertently encourages us like nothing else…it is likely that very story we need to settle our souls.  We need to realize that if what’s in our hand at the moment is what we can do, then we need to do it with gusto.  If we’re only seeking to change because we feel despondent and useless, maybe we need to pray for His strength to continue on with new passion and vision.

What is that you love to do?  Plant a garden?  Write stories?  Share recipes?  Tend to children?  Sing and write music?  Read for long periods of time?  You’re unique, and so am I.  And we don’t need to carry heavy loads of worthlessness into 2023. 

Ask him for encouragement, and then look for it.  If change is on your horizon, ask him for boldness and peace to move forward.  If what you’re doing just needs an extra boost, this story is it.  You’re making a difference, whether you know it or not.  One photograph, one wiped nose, one smile offered, one hand extended…makes ripples we know nothing of…but He does.  And that should settle the weariest of souls among us.


bottom of page