Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Matthew 19:26 (Message)
My husband and I were out cross country skiing the other day and I suggested a “selfie” of the two of us. I used to just say “take a picture of us together” and we would snuggle in and he would stretch out his long arm and take a picture of us, with a camera! Ah, the good ol’ days. Now with his smart phone he takes multiple pictures in – what I just found out – was called a “photo burst.” Who knew?!
Of course we were on skis and trying to stand still and be close…which naturally tangles the skis…and then he wants a shot with the skis so I try to lift one…and you can imagine how that went. As I looked at those photos I had to giggle. We started out with a smile…and then laughter…and then snorting…and we were half in and half out of the frame. I felt happy just thinking of the memory.
But, not all our memories have happy photos to go along with them, do they? It almost seems like our mind’s “photo burst” tend toward the bad times, the frowns, the tears, the struggles. I can’t imagine that’s how God planned it. I believe that in the perfect environment that God created, the Garden, Adam and Eve had great photo bursts in real life and in their memories. The interesting thing is that they had only their memories, their own baggage, and that was relatively light.
We all come into marriage with lots of baggage, don’t we? Not only our own personal baggage, but the baggage of our parents and grandparents. There’s a psychological/physiological theory that we human beings actually carry down memories genetically. It isn’t an evolution-thing, it’s a brain-wiring thing. God’s Word says that the “father’s sins will be carried down to the third and fourth generation” (Ex 20:5, Ex 34:7, Num. 14:18, Deut. 5:9) …you might say it’s in our DNA.
And then we, going in with the best of intentions, give our kids our bags to carry. Yet we all want the very best for our children, don’t we? We want their memories to be positive and full of love and laughter. When we’re honest, what kind of photo bursts are we giving our kids? Are we so busy with our to-do list and our jobs and our agendas and our pride and our need to be right…that we fail to give them what they need? Joy-filled photo bursts to remember how much they are treasured and loved by us and by the Lord?
Now that my babies are grown men, with struggles of their own, I sometimes focus on the not-so-positive photo bursts in my memory. I hear those whispers of inadequacy and doubt past decisions. I get down on myself and feel that God is down on me too. But, when I come before Him in honest and sincere desire to see the real photo bursts…He is gracious and tender with me. Showing me where I am, where I was, and where He wants me to be. And the real joy comes in accepting and trusting Him, with all that I am and all I want to be. And often He gives me a little bonus, a gold star of sorts when I get a text from a son who says (out of the blue) “you guys were great parents and I really appreciate how you raised me” or “I have great memories of this holiday and how special you made it” or “I really love you guys so much, and I’m so sorry for all I put you through.”
He’s that kind of Father, isn’t he? Taking those photo bursts that Satan wants to beat me up with and giving me a different focus, a true focus, not based on my feelings but on His truth and His promises. If you’re wishing you or your children had different “photo bursts” ask Jesus to give you his perspective and the strength to trust Him with the final development of that “photo” memory, not just the “negative” or the unfinished product.
Thank You, Jesus, that You are the author and perfecter of our faith. When we come to You with open hearts, You meet us just where we are. Thank You that You are safe to be vulnerable with and that You know all our weaknesses and want to grow us into the men and women You planned from the beginning. Help us to trust You with the photos in our minds. Guard our hearts and minds in You. In Your Holy Name we pray, amen.