Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Picture Perfect -- or not.

We live in a put-your-best-foot-forward society. Oh, I don't mean, try your best, do your best, work hard, etc. I mean we live in a world where we can erase blemishes, dark circles, wrinkles and even pounds with the wave of a Photoshop brush stroke. Through social media we can connect -- and re-connect -- with friends far and wide and let them see our very best side. And only our very best side.

And I am as guilty as the next person. I love to share my family through photos. It is the heart of who I am. I love to capture moments to relive for always. And yet, I don't particularly care for moments where you can see the extra pounds I need to lose. Or the not-so-subtle laugh lines forming around my eyes. Or where one or more of my children doesn't look angelic. I want perfect photos. I might take four hundred and find four worthy of printing or sharing on Facebook.

When my husband and I married, my grandmother stood behind the photographer: "Carol," she said, "Don't squint your eyes so much when you smile."

And so for a couple of shots I tried my very best to open my eyes as wide as I can...right up until my groom leaned in close and whispered, "If I can see your eyes when the pictures come back to us, I am going to think you weren't happy today. When you are happy, your eyes disappear. I want you happy. I want you real."

Even today, 20-something years later, I know he is right. When I see photos of myself with eyes opened wide, I look posed, less-than-joyful. But when you can only see little slits, you know I was overflowing with joy when the photo was taken.

Last week, I kidnapped my children and took them for a lunch date at Lake Pleasant. We had already been laughing a lot when I asked them to pose for some photos. I had not intended to get in the shots -- and therefore didn't have my tripod -- but we couldn't resist trying to get some Mom-and-her-crew pictures. The results made some memories we won't soon forget:

Me and my girls...unsure of how low we need to be for the table-resting camera to catch us.

Clearly not low enough.

I knew I had to share these immediately. So perfect in their imperfections that they spoke to me: See, I know that I don't have to share them. I know that with one touch of "delete" I could prevent anyone from knowing that we are not picture-perfect. My little circle of friends on various forms of social media could go on thinking that every time I pull out my camera everyone smiles contagiously and I can capture beautiful moments. (I am giggling as I type that because I am fairly certain no one really thinks that!)
Three out of four happy faces...

But the reality is, that we are not perfect (shocking, right?). The reality is that sometimes we grumble, complain and whine about mom pulling her camera out -- again.

When I jumped in the photo and put my hand on Mason's waist....it tickled and he started to fall...

The reality is that we fall. We make bad choices. We bicker and fight and insist on having things our own way. Oh goodness, suddenly I feel like I am not just talking about photos anymore. Far too often, I live begging God for things to go my way. Begging. A toddler stomping in a candy store could not describe me more accurately. Honestly, I want the picture-perfect life that it seems so many have in my little social media world. And I have pounded my fists in demand of just such.

And four out of five had happy faces this time....

And then some days, some days, I  figure things out and get my heart in the right place...

Claire tried to pull Mason closer to her...and he lost his balance. I tried to stop the fall -- and failed. I might have to frame this one.

Only to fall again. And again into the pit of selfishness, pride, greed....sin.

Oh, we can put our best forward on social media, my friends. But it is in the living life, in the fellowship of being real together that joy is found. 

Mason is bleeding in this shot. But we have laughed so hard at the photo of the fall that we are joy-filled. Not in the perfection of the shot...but in the reality of finding fun in the hard stuff!

It is in being transparent with one another -- seeking friends who sharpen us and make us stretch, grow, learn and yes, try to catch us when we fall -- that we find the squinty-eyed delight in God.

My prayer for you today is not that you will put your best foot forward -- my prayer is that you will take all your imperfections to the One who can do far more than photoshop them away. Jesus can heal, repair and forgive. He is not interested in your Facebook best. No, he wants the real you. Jesus wants us with all our flaws.

Isn't that such a relief?


charla said...

Love it. Love. It.

Hoekzema said...

This was the best. I had such a chuckle over Claire pulling Mason closer. It made me think of one year we were trying to get a Christmas picture. It was just my Mom, sister and I. We put our freshly cut Christmas tree on the porch precariously balanced and we stood around it. My sister would go and push the timer button on the camera and then run back to get into the picture. This particular year, she tripped. The picture came back with her backside in the picture in full view and her head in the freshly cut tree as she never made it up the 2 steps on the porch. Oops! We still laugh every Christmas as she missed the step.