Jon Taylor Sweet
Jon and I have known one another for a good while now. Despite the fact that we live on opposite sides of the country, we ran into one another recently. I had a spot open for the week's project and asked him to be a part.
A photographer himself, we geeked out over photo things after some coffee and catch-up time. Once it came time to do the questions, we sat down outside my house and I settled in for what I suspected to be a long and perhaps even intense conversation.
Suffice it to say that Jon and I have a few fundamentally different beliefs. Notice that I didn't say that I was prepared to have a fight or argument. I said "conversation".
I knew going into this talk that Jon and I fall on different sides of things, but that doesn't mean that I don't love the shit out of this man and also respect him and what he finds truth in. As long as someone isn't harming another person I personally don't care what they believe. I do hope that on top of not harming others that they live a life that cares for and even focuses on others, but that's icing on the cake. (Jon does, by the way)
Our goal in the extended conversation around the questions was not to change the other's mind but rather to maintain a curiosity and try to come to understand why the other believes so strongly the things that they do. In doing so we can come to know and love even further through that understanding.
If this project has taught me one thing it's that just below the surface of our seemingly never-ending complexities and differences we are all virtually the same. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to be safe and secure in the truth that we find, and we all want to be heard and feel that we matter. To know that we're not alone.
If we can come together on these basic emotional elements of what it is to be human we can come together in a harmony that surpasses our immediate need/want to be "right" or to change someone's mind. We can more easily find not only a peace with our differences but a celebration.
We're never going to agree on everything. We're just not. We can strive to remain curious and try to understand one another's stories and thereby find reflections of ourselves in them and see true value in the differences that others hold.
Jon, thank you for being you, my friend. Thank you for taking the time and love to have a conversation that I don't think you or I one would describe as "easy" but one that is essential to the creation and longevity of harmony. I'm happy to know you!
Love Aimlessly, My Friends
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Initially, my mind went to my wife. I have to provide for her. Having something to strive for every day and putting food on out table. Also, knowing that I get the chance to take the breath of another day. Knowing that God allowed me to do what I do and to be who I am. Knowing that there’s purpose. I wake up every day knowing that I’m blessed with that and given the day. I want to be beyond myself every day.
Once I get up my natural reaction is to make coffee, but I don’t make coffee for myself first. I make coffee for my wife. Seeing her smile gets me going in the morning. Also, just wondering what adventure awaits. Being a freelancer, you just don’t know what email you’re going to get, what call you’re going to get or what someone might tell you and to have the freedom to probably go do it… I love the spontaneity of that. The spontaneity helps get me going too.
I literally ask myself this question, especially in the slow season “What do I want to do today?” I love that question and that I have the opportunity to discover that and hope for the best that I’m doing exactly what God wants me to do for that specific day and for his glory.
That’s a lot of how I’m wired and how every day kind of works for me, but it varies. There are some days that I have to go see fam or even be around people that I might not want to, but I ask myself how I can structure that time and be a part of that and exist in those moments and know that I’m there for a purpose and reason.
I guess summed up it’s my wife and people.
To date, what is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?
I mean, there’s so many different aspects of life… I don’t know if I could give you a “greatest”. I don’t know that that would be fair. There’s so many season to life and where God has put me. I can tell you some of the greater lessons that I’ve learned.
I’ll say the first one that came to my mind, and that’s selflessness. My situation is different from everyone else’s but if I can maneuver myself out of the picture, and get to have a real conversation and get to understand someone in a new way.
I learn a lot of that being married. I’m living with this person the rest of my life and the greatest way of discovering my wife is to move myself out of the picture sometimes. I get to discover how she moves and how she breaths and her rhythms of grace. I think that it also goes the same way in ministry. I think the Gospel can be so forward and even abrasive to people. I think one of the greatest ways to share the Gospel is through testimony. Being able to remove myself allows me the opportunity to hear someone’s story. Someone that I don’t know. A lot of how I act every day is by my relationship with Jesus. It’s one reason that I’ll respond the way that I do to a majority to this.
Selflessness is one of those things. I opens a lot of doors for a lot of different things. From conversations, to actions, interactions, emotions… everything. You’re not relying on self but relying on the hope of others.
As a child, my greatest lesson was being told the truth. I’ll explain…
My mom, her way of showing my brother and I how to learn was to teach us exactly how something felt. At a young age, when we first began to know how to lie, my mom was like “Well, if you guys are going to lie to me I’ll show you what it feels like!”
She talked up this whole day that we were going to do! All these things that we were so excited about and couldn’t wait to get out of school so we could go do them. My mom picks us up and we go back to the house. My brother and I are like “Why are we here?” “We’re not supposed to be here.” We were supposed to be out having fun already. We’d thought about it all day! My mom goes “Well, I lied to you.”
I was like…… “What…!” “What do you mean!?” I was devastated! Her reaction was “Now you know how it feels to be lied to.”
So, I learned how to be honest and real. I never lied to my mom again. I didn’t have a reason to because I knew how it felt and I didn’t want her to feel that way. I love that it translates to now though. I carry that we me in my interactions with people. I would want people to do the same for me.
Some of the greatest lessons come through hardships. As a kid, I grew up with parents that fought. It was a very dysfunctional family. I learned faithfulness through that. How does that make sense? I don’t know. I never saw it. My dad wasn’t a faithful man. My mom was very faithful and very honest and true. That is a constant that I saw, but my dad wasn’t that way. It didn’t translate through to relationships. Now here I am, married and had been given no true concept of what a relationship was supposed to be. Luckily, her parents are so amazing and inspirational. I was able to tell her dad, just before asking for his daughters hand in marriage, that he was the greatest inspiration as a father that I’d seen.
Learning about faithfulness has translated in multiple season of my life. Even when I’m wonderful what to do next I remember the phrase “Be faithful to what’s in front of you because God’s going to bless it.” I don’t know what the blessing is going to look like. It could be me moving on to the next thing. It could be me staying where I’m supposed to stay. Kind of like my photography career. I have no idea why I’m a photographer but God put it right in front of me so I’m going to be faithful to it. I’m gong to honor it and I hope that he blesses it and I’m confident that he will.
All this translates into the aspects of being a son, a husband, a grandson, a friend and in all these things being faithful and true to the end.
I would say that those are three lessons that have impacted my life.
What is love?
Jesus is love. I know that there’s so many complexities to that question. I can see where that goes depending how you believe and what you believe. My only understanding of love comes from Jesus because he is love. That’s quoted through scripture. I take my void and look at the picture of the Gospel and who Jesus is, as 100% God and 100% man who’s perfect without sin, comes to earth and lives a life just like us with a goal in mind. You and I. He even pleaded with the father in the Garden of Gethsemane, “If this cup can pass” but he knows that he has to do this so he took the cross and got on it and took our sin and the sin of the world and put it on his shoulders. The greatest victory is the fact that love was real in those moments. Three days later he rose from the grave, concurring Satan, sin and death so that we could have life in him.
So, if there’s any love or any idea of love that I can truly understand it’s the Gospel and Jesus and who he is and what he’s done for us so that we could have that freedom. “He who knew no sin became sin so that we could have life in him”. That’s my answer to love. Jesus.
I love that in one person’s life he exemplifies love, regardless as to whether or not you see him as God. Even historically, you look at the life of Jesus and you see a man that lives selflessly. I man that lived for the hope of others and trusted in people that he probably shouldn’t have trusted in. You see hope in every situation around his being.
Love can also have a skewed view. I grew up in a broken home. The idea of how to really love… it wasn’t really a thing for me. Relationally, with my wife I had to learn through my relationship with Jesus, and I’m so thankful that I had a foundation to work on and build up to be a good husband, or at least try to be, and love my wife with everything that I could. It’s easy to say the words “I love you” but when you get to the root of the word love… When I say I love my wife… I LOVE MY WIFE! I want the best for her. My heart aches when her heart aches.
I look at this aspect of love and I chase after in and I hope every day that I can have the same love that Jesus has. His heart and how he felt for people. If I had a goal in mind it would be who Jesus is and how he was and to accept love the way he gave love.
About Jon : Jon is a lifestyle and wedding photographer living in Seattle. Be sure to check out his work from the link below.
From Tacoma, WA
Lives in Seattle, WA