Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sharing a Snapshot

I've always wanted to get some outdoor family pictures taken by a photographer.  We finally did it last weekend!  I've been talking to my talented friend, Maura, about it for over a year.  The process of coordinating the outfits, slicking down the hair and instructions began.   "Evan, don't touch the cats...and don't lean your head back."  And as I noticed that Emily took the opportunity to experiment with blue eye shadow with ten minutes left to spare, I suggested that I help her blend, which caused hysterical tears.  "God help us!"  Jeff had a headache and I insisted that he was mad about something.  The drive there revealed that Evan's shirt was actually falling apart.  There were threats of turning around and going home if attitudes didn't improve.  That always helps - demanding that everyone be happy...  We arrived so that Maura could capture our 'happy and relaxed' moments together as a loving family.  Sigh...

Pictures have never been relaxed for me.  I spend way too much time preparing and making us look just perfect and instructing everyone on what to do and not do.  Then we all paste our smiles on and look like the perfect little family.

I started thinking this morning about what would happen if we framed the moments that aren't planned and perfect, but the everyday moments - the moments leading up to the one that has the camera on us.  Taking a snapshot of our everyday life - what would that look like?  Ouch.  Not cute.
In Matthew 5:16 Jesus wants us to represent Him well:  "let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."  We need to remember that our actions, both good and not so lovely, are on display - like pictures - for others to see.  People are watching us, watching us to see how we handle completely frustrating situations and moments when our kids take us to the end of our rope.  When we do mess up, what do we do afterwards?  Do we scramble to make it look like we didn't?  Or do we humbly and truly ask for forgiveness from others?  How do we represent Christ in the everyday moments?  When we don't think anyone is looking.  Something I need to think about!  If my candid photos/videos (the informal snapshots taken without my knowledge) were posted on facebook could I be a good witness for Christ?  Ouch again.

Ok, let's switch gears a bit and look at this in a totally different way:  we are pretty good at displaying the professionally edited portrait of our lives -- the "everything is going well, our family is perfect, we don't have problems." (as in picture below!)  It's the candid snapshots that we aren't as willing to reveal because they are messy.  But...people are relieved to find out that you don't actually have it all together but struggle the same as they do.  All of a sudden you become real and approachable because no one is perfect.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend time with someone who is honest than someone who insists that she has it all together and everything is great - when it isn't.

A few weeks ago, I nervously shared my own messy snapshots to a group of women at church, revealing my weaknesses, my sins, and my imperfections.  God wanted me to do this because as I purposefully shared my 'messy,' I was also able to share how God uses the messy and the broken to make beautiful things.  He is in the business of making beautiful things out of the dust.  He was gracious in allowing me to see that my obedience in sharing touched a few and made them stronger by not feeling alone in their own struggles.

This week the Kissel family was under spiritual attack - this is all I can use to explain the darkness that entered into the house and the hopelessness felt.  I could have pasted on my edited smile but I was real and said, 'we need help' to my friends in Christ.  It's hard to display this type of picture to others - the one of weakness.  Prayers from our army helped us come through stronger and unscathed.

Sharing the 'imperfections' in our lives, in the right way mind you, can help God's Kingdom grow in number and become strengthened.

My prayer out of all my ramblings this morning is this:  that we will have more candid, behind the scenes, everyday snapshots that are a great witness for Christ.  That we aren't afraid to share the messy photos if it might help a brother or sister or ourselves.  That we would have big smiles, not because everything in our lives are perfect, but because God is shining through us.

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:5)

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