Every year we take family pictures right around the holidays. It’s an easy gift for the grandparents who truly have everything they need and only want to think of their grandbabies. I love having updated photos of my family each year, but it is quite the undertaking. I have an incredible photographer for our family. She’s super patient with me and all our kiddos and she does great work, thankfully.
Family photos always start days, or weeks ahead, as I decide what colors to use (because we all need to be coordinated, without matching). And then it’s gathering the items we own that will work, and then buying what the kids need. The day before all the kids get baths, hair washed, styled, nails trimmed (ever had to hold down an eight-year-old to trim his nails?).
The morning of is nothing short of chaotic: breakfast and then everyone cleaned up again, mom and dad both need to shower and style their hair, mom puts on makeup, dad grooms his beard (and if your husband is clean shaven, I’m sorry), everyone in their perfectly coordinated outfits and then away we go. By now, no one is in the mood to smile for pics. Especially the babies, because it’s almost time for lunch and naps! What literally took days to prepare for is over in just a few minutes.
The pictures turn out really beautiful, but they don’t tell the whole story. They don’t tell you that Lydia actually had a scratch on her cheek (thanks to my photographers amazing editing!). They don’t tell you that Jabez kept trying to run into the street. They don’t tell you that we are all so busy that we had to carve out a few minutes to get this done before we had to go in separate directions for church and home obligations.
When I look at the nativity: the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2:12) lying in a manger, Mary and Joseph carefully poised in kneeling positions (I mean, what woman is kneeling just moments after giving birth?) it appears to be this beautiful Silent Night, (pun intended), but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t tell you they just traveled about 90 miles on foot (and Mary is pregnant). It doesn’t tell you the stress of not being to find anywhere to sleep, except a barn. It doesn’t tell you how Joseph may have felt like he failed to provide for the new baby and Mary because they had to sleep outside. It doesn’t tell you that Mary undoubtedly had a mix of euphoria and pain in what was the most miraculous birth of all time. It doesn’t tell you that there was a heavenly choir announcing Jesus’ birth to shepherds or that wise men had been petitioned to locate the baby. What appears to be a beautiful scene away in a manger (see what I did there?): it’s only a snapshot of what has changed the world for all eternity.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but I’m not sure that’s true. It only shows exactly what the photographer wants you to see.
As you browse Facebook and other social media sites and you feel like your reality of life looks so much worse than the pictures posted, remember that those pictures are not an accurate portrayal of their lives! I encourage you to try to see past the picture that was captured.
The things we cannot see are the things that truly matter: the heart condition of each individual, the health of the relationships, the spiritual health of the family. 2 Corinthians reminds us of this: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
What really matters isn’t what we see with our eyes, but the things we cannot see. I ask that you begin to focus on the eternal in your life and in the lives of your friends and family.