A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
A picture is truly worth a thousand words. For an outsider though, every one of those words or thoughts may be inaccurate. As we scroll through a myriad of pictures on our Facebook newsfeed or capture a glance of that seemingly perfect mom-of-the-year or model student, we begin to formulate countless thoughts, dangerous thoughts.
“They have it all together.”
“I wish I had it all together.”
Aren’t these the phrases we hear others and ourselves saying all too often? But a moment captured, a deceiving appearance, or a spoken phrase cannot sum up a person’s life or status.
Last month our family did a quick photo-shoot in order to capture the rare occasion of having us all in one picture. When we received all of the photos from our photographer, I remember immediately thinking, “Wow!”
This was not like a, “Wow, we are so photogenic” type of thought. This was more of a, “Wow! How in the world did she capture any pictures of us smiling?” This thought probably never came across my viewers’ minds as they scanned each of our pictures on Facebook.
This picture does not show my two year old throwing a tantrum or my youngest crying because she had her own agenda beyond taking pictures. At one point, I am fairly certain my husband and I were looking at each other with the look of, “What were we thinking?” and “We just threw our picture money down the drain!” Notice those looks are not reflected here.
Formulating our own opinions and ideas about the status of another person’s life is dangerous for multiple reasons, but the two that strike me the most are the following:
1) It keeps us from living the life God intended.
2) It creates a misconception about the need for God’s grace and redemption.
I can quickly make an assumption about someone’s talents, abilities, looks, and job or relationship status. This becomes dangerous when I begin to compare myself with that assumption. Not only is my assumption about that person probably incorrect, but also trying to achieve a pattern in life to mimic that of another person’s life creates a roadblock in God’s plan for my life. When I believe that my relationships, talents, etc. should look like someone else’s, I have just put humanity in a box. God did not create us the same for a reason! I love what C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity about our differing strengths. “Christ works on us through each other. We are mirrors of Christ to others.” God did not create us with differing strengths so that we would compare ourselves and as a result, suffer from a withering self-esteem. He did so for us to emulate Him in the way we were gifted and additionally, so we could fulfill His divine plan for our life.
God has big plans for me as He does for you.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Our plans will look different and will be accomplished in different ways. We must acknowledge that we are God’s magnificent creation and He will use our strengths to build His kingdom.
Secondly, as we form misconceptions and weigh them against ourselves, we begin to develop a faulty idea that we are the only ones falling short; we are the only ones needing grace and redemption. I struggled with this as a new mom and a new teacher. I constantly compared myself with another teacher who seemed to “have it all together”. She was the mom who made her own homemade applesauce for her child. She was the teacher whose plans were done two to four weeks in advance. She was the wife who had a daily agenda for keeping her house in pristine condition with a daily, hot meal prepared for her husband upon his arrival from work. I felt beaten to a pulp as I compared myself with her time and time again. One day, she said something to me that I will never forget.
“I have a redeemed past, but I
have freedom with my faith in Jesus Christ.”
She told me things about her past that she was not proud of. She then began to tell me things she struggled with and how God was challenging her and changing her life. I valued her honesty and I admired her way of communicating her journey of faith. I realized that everything that was together about her was because of Jesus Christ, not because she alone was perfect. Was this not true for me to? Of course it was and of course it is! I know what talents and positive characteristics I possess. If I have anything together at all, it’s because of Jesus. My flaws are beautiful, too, because they lead me to Jesus and continuously create a need for His redemption and grace. I need Him!
I have been redeemed and I, too, walk in the freedom of faith in Jesus Christ.
Romans 3: 24-25 (NIV)
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
So, yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but the picture may not always reflect the whole truth.
Therefore dear friends and families, as you wear the weight of the world on your shoulders and compare yourself with your idea of perceived “perfection”, remember that a glimpse of someone’s perfection may not be what it seems, but whatever is “all together” about each of us is because of Jesus Christ. Our creator is marvelous, and His creation is magnificent, too.