Life Behind the Lens: The Story of Our Photographer

Nick is first and foremost; a close friend, secondly, better dressed than I am, and thirdly, the most welcoming person you will ever meet. He also plays the role of photographer for this blog (with the exception of this shoot and my own – shout out Cheilean.) As I’ve gotten to know him over the years I’ve realized his strength is one of my biggest weaknesses: people. So what happens when Mr. Popular loses his population of friends? Read on…

Matt: Lay down like you’re at a psychiatrist. 

 Nick: People that are listening: I am laying down in his car as if he was my therapist right now. I feel so tired. 

M: He might fall asleep during this interview. It might be two parts. 

N: I actually might.  

M: So how would you say your life is right now? 

 N: My life is the best it’s ever been. 

 M: Yeah? 

 N: Yeah, dude. Like I don’t know man, just things going on in my life now and looking back at my seasons before hand, right now is the best season I’ve ever been in. 

 M: What was the worst season you were in then? 

 N: I think it was last year, last summer. It was a tough time for me. Career and everything was one thing. Just seeing where I’m at and how far I am into actually being where I wanted to be in the NYPD at that point was very discouraging, but more than that it was the loss of community. my best friends leaving, kind of just like I lost something that was for me. I spent months really, I’m not going to go as far as to say depressed, but I was in a dark place and my heart wasn’t in the team I was serving on at church. It was just an area where I had no fire for God. I was actually questioning why am I actually a Christian. Those thoughts came to mind. I could just be a good person. Why do I have to be a Christian? And I knew it was a rough point when I started questioning that. 

M: So how do you think you got out of that season? You’re obviously at your best and it’s only one year later so how do you think that happened? What was the climb? 

N: I was also in a relationship at that time and it wasn’t going so great. I’m not saying it’s the reason why I am better now… 

M: …in case she reads this. 

 N: Yeah, right. She will definitely read this. Echo, I love you, don’t kill me. What I am saying is that in November, I broke up with my girlfriend and I was able to step away and stepping away from caring about someone and actually caring about myself only. As selfish as that may seem, I think you really need a balance in life for how much you care for someone and how much you actually need to care for yourself. At this point in my life, I couldn’t care for her the way she needed me to be and it was like with everything else, I couldn’t care for my connect group like I needed to. I couldn’t care for my teams like I needed to. I needed to care for myself first. 

 M: That’s real. 

 N: So I took a step back and kind of reevaluated everything. My friend group and how I was processing things, how I was taking things to heart, how I was treating people, and really taking a really, really heavy step back and assessing myself and it kind of brought me into a more depressed decline because, one, I lost my girlfriend, which was my best friend too. And two, I lost two of my best friends so I was in this rut. I was lonely and my friends weren’t treating me as they were my friends. I would rarely hear from them. I felt left out even if it wasn’t on purpose, but it was one of those things where God was audibly speaking to me like, Nick, I’m giving you this time so that you can focus on me and focus on the things you need to and so I started doing that. I started forcing myself to pray again, started forcing myself to read more in-depth in the Bible, and I got an opportunity to go to a Mosaic concert.  

 

 I went alone because I was that lonely at this point in time. I went alone and when I got there I saw Nini. We’re good friends, we started talking, and Nini was like, yeah I’m looking for a new connect group leader. We kind of just looked at each other like, do you want to start a connect group with each other? It kind of just happened and I met these people and the responsibility of holding another connect group brought this new fire for God in me. It literally reshaped everything I was thinking and motivated me to really be the top person I could be. 

 M: That’s awesome. So obviously you have a great community around you now, but what happens if this community leaves? What have you learned that will keep you from winding up back in that lonely spot, that dark spot? 

 N: I think it’s what you make of it. A community is what you make of it. If you sit around all day and mope about how people aren’t hitting you up and you feel left out, guess what? You’re gonna be left out because you’re sitting around thinking about that. Instead, take your time, do what you need to do for yourself, and reach out to people and watch it unfold as community will just surround you. The more you start caring, the more you start putting that initiative and doing things for others while you’re doing things for yourself, I don’t know, things just start to open. Even this community, if this connect group failed there would be more communities. A big thing for me this year if I would have to define it in one word would be believe. I believe in myself and the things I’m doing. Maybe I lacked that before and would question what I was doing. But now I truly believe what I do and I truly believe in my work, I truly believe in the people around me. That starts to shape things when you start to believe in yourself. Regardless of if others think it’s wrong, if you believe it, there’s power in that. 

 M: So if you were to meet somebody else – obviously you’re a big community guy – so if you met somebody else that was in your spot, what would you say to encourage them or direct them or help them? 

 N: I would say just relax. Honestly, chill. I would just tell them to honestly feel that pain of it, feel why it hurts, and when you’re feeling that hurt, ask yourself why. Why does that hurt? And what can I actually do? If you can’t do anything, then that just means you need to relax and just wait. Sometimes it just, you need to just wait. People always want to rush into things whether it’s a relationship, whether it’s a friendship. I remember when I was young when I first met someone, I immediately wanted to sleep over at that person’s house. Chill. 

 I hate to say run your race because that’s one of Carl Lentz’s biggest sermons, but run your race, but do things for yourself. It’s okay to be selfish, it really is though. It’s okay because at the end of the day in order to build into someone or build into something, you have to make sure you’re good. Because if you’re not good, your hearts not going to be in what you’re building whether it’s somebody or a team or something else. Just relax. Just chill. 

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