It's 3:20pm, my wife and I just returned from the mountains. I was hired to shoot a few images for CLIF Bar, and decided to make the Rockies my office for a few days. My wife just left for work, she's a florist at a local Denver company, and won't be back for a few hours so here I am alone, at my house, trying to figure out how to make my 2 hours of work yesterday feel like a real job as I cull through 200 images.
I've already checked my Instagram roughly 20 times since our phones gained cell service again once we came out of the National Park, I think i'm doing alright, my last post got about as many likes as I think it should have, if it didn't I would have probably just deleted it and pretended like that moment in time never really existed...at least to my audiences' eyes it didn't....and that's all I trick myself into believing is what really matters.
I forgot to introduce myself to you. My name is Hunter Lawrence, I'm 23 years old and I currently live in Denver, Colorado. I've been married now for just over 1 year to the girl of my dreams, Sarah, we were junior high friends 12 years ago, and now she's my wife...crazy how that happens. 4 months ago, we moved to Denver, CO from Austin, TX because I got a job at a creative company here in town that i'll remain nameless. 1 month ago I got fired from that job, and so for the past month i've tried my best to let my life as a freelancer feel like my full time job...but it hasn't, and I hate that.
Let me back up a little further. I lived in Austin for about 6 years, I went to College there and then landed an internship at the church that I was attending doing Creative Storytelling. I loved my job, and I thought that I was good at it. I felt certain of my career path after my final semester of school in Morocco, where I saw my gifting as a visual storyteller used for far more than I could ever write down. Lives were changed, peoples view on things were challenged...the Gospel of Christ wasn't just what I believed in, its beauty was at the crux of all the stories I was getting to capture across North Africa.
That first year out of college I felt more purpose, more joy, more satisfaction in my work than I have ever experienced. I felt obedient in using my gifts for more than just my own gain and as strange as that is for my flesh to admit, I loved it. I felt so called to my job as a visual storyteller that I even took the risk of reaching out to family and friends to raise my salary for that year to come on as a full time intern with the church. As much as my flesh hated sitting across from both people that I hardly knew as well as lifelong friends, and asking them to give of themselves financially to help me do what I believed I was called to do, I knew what my call was and I was confident in it.
6 months later I had the hardest conversation of my life. Sitting across the table from my boss, who also happened to be my mentor and one of my dearest friends, I was asked to step down from my position at the church. As I sat there stunned in disbelief, tears welling up from my eyes...literally having a hard time breathing; I knew deep down why this was happening. This wasn't as much of a surprise as my body language communicated. I could feel this conversation creeping up slowly on me in the previous months. I had traded in the pursuit of a lifestyle over a call, and it now cost me my job. A job that I was confident would be what I would be doing forever.
Those months leading up to that conversation, I had found myself discontent in the lifestyle I was living. My home was in one of the roughest neighborhoods in town, my job was at church, my clothes weren't local enough, I wasn't drinking craft coffee every day, I didn't have a hip car and I lived in Texas. In my mind, my life as I knew it was meaningless and needed some serious help...and so what did I do? I changed it all.
Before I knew it I was dropping $15/week on craft coffee, I was only content with clothes bought from certain high end retailers, I began to hate the neighborhood I lived in purposely to be on mission to, I sold my Jeep and bought a VW Van that broke down all time, I started craigs-listing homes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, I started the job search online for something more hip - more trendy - more creative. I began to loose sleep because I laid in bed thinking about this lifestyle that I wanted so badly, SO badly. I wanted to live in small cute little cottage on the Oregon Coastline, drink coffee brewed from a Chemex each morning, take long walks along the beach to think and gather driftwood for my home, drive my VW van to my "ideal job"...anything but what I was doing and come home to my wife sitting in our sunroom reading a good novel as the snow fell outside our window.
I was consumed, and still am consumed by this dream like culture. I worshiped it, I gave my money to it, I gave my time to it, I gave my sleep to it, I gained followers for it, I preached it, I worked for it... I was on mission for this culture, this god, this lifestyle and in doing so I decided to take a back row seat and step out of the fight for the one true God.
This has been life for 2 years now, and here I am today writing about just how lifeless and vain this pursuit has been. Living on mission for this lifestyle got me nothing more than thousands of followers on Instagram, 2 jobs that i've now been fired from and a shelf full of quarterly publications that I read like the Bible. I've moved my family 1,000 miles north of where we called home in pursuit of a job that was excited to have me on board but quickly realize that who I often paint myself to be via social channels like Instagram and Facebook wasn't who I really was...and thus I sat there day after day hating my job because I had just been asked to fill a certain role that wasn't REALLY for the me I knew I was deep down, but more for what I had become over these past years pursuing this false god.
So here I am. I'm a man that deep down more than anything wants to get back to being himself. Do I think craft coffee, vw vans, the Oregon coastline, foggy mountains or cute homes are bad...not at all. For me though, they haven't just been something that I enjoy and am thankful for...they have become what I had to have to feel joy and purpose.
I'm tired of being someone i'm not. I want to be me now, so here is the real Hunter Lawrence. I love storytelling, I believe that we all have a unique story to tell that ultimately points back to the truth beauty and goodness of Jesus . I love culture, seeing new places, meeting new people and watching a completely new way of life unfold before my eyes is one of the most fascinating things to me. I love the outdoors, getting out in the mountains, fishing a roaring river and being surrounded by beautiful landscapes reminds me just how creative our creator is. I love change, I'm drawn to storytelling through film and photography because each and every story is full of new characters and new surroundings. I love the Gospel, these past few years i've been so shy about my faith. I've tried so hard to paint a picture of man that loves his wife, his dog and his community and think that just through that people will see Jesus...but I leave it there and think its enough.
I'm timid to shout to the masses that Jesus is King and he's telling a story through his people that I so badly want to capture. Maybe because I think that this whole Christianity culture is cheesy and slightly embarrassing. Regardless though, the culture of Christianity may be cheesy...but my Jesus isn't. The culture of this lifestyle that i've worshiped may keep taking it course in our world...but it doesn't define me.
I'm tired of pretending that i'm someone I know I wasn't created to be. I'm tired of letting this passion for this lifestyle lord over me and tell me what I should look like, where I should work, where I should live, what kind of stories I should tell.
My name is Hunter Lawrence, and I'm a follower of Jesus. I'm a character in the greatest story every told.