Isn’t this picture the best?! I love it so much. Prior to taking that photo I spent the better part of 20 minutes wrangling a toddler, pulling the older ones away from the free donuts, and respectfully begging my parents to quit talking to E-ver-y-one so I could get just one measly picture of all of us on Easter. I didn’t get one last year and one was all I wanted…wah. Then the toddler could run wild and free, the big kids could go comatose on donuts, and the grands could lavish their wisdom on the masses. Just one. Puhlease, for the love!
Finally, the volunteer photographer steps in, clicks once and we’re done, every one scatters. I sigh in relief. This year we got it! I take my phone back, thank volunteer photographer, click back to the last image and find this gem. I couldn’t stop laughing. I scroll back to camera and see that my normal photo mode has somehow been moved to Pano (Panoramic). More hysterical laughter. There was no way I was going through all of that again. Nope. This would be the picture and I would be proud to share it because it was honest and real. And honest and real is what I’m about now.
This picture is just evidence of how far the Lord has taken me, how He fills in all that I lack, how I always fall short (pun-intended), how I usually have a messed up view about who He says I am, how thankful I am that He always sees the whole picture, and how beautifully imperfect my real life is.
I haven’t always embraced the idea of sharing a picture of me that was less than perfect. I spent a majority of my teens and twenties covering things, hiding my imperfections, making my life look right, making it seem right because I wasn’t comfortable with the truth, with the reality, with the mess. I didn’t want to deal with it or see it. I’d show only what I wanted others to see, only what I deemed acceptable. Not my real life, I just couldn’t. It wasn’t as it should be. It didn’t seem as good as other people’s marriages, jobs, houses, families, GPAs, test scores, credit, bank accounts, lifestyle, talents, artistry, beauty, sense of humor, or…just fill-in-the-blank.
I tried to live a life of appearances. The hiding snowballed. I lied so much to myself and others that eventually, all that I was protecting and shielding by way of my deception was exposed. I lost everything, tangible things, yes; relationships, yes; myself, yes; my faith…y’all, I was holding on to the very last thread by very loose teeth.
After all of this loss, I found myself at the bottom of a deep cave. Only, that’s when my Savior, and some people that love like Him, wove me a rope of Grace. They saw all the filth I was standing in and still tethered themselves to me; they locked themselves into the Mountain of God’s love, secured their stance and helped me climb up out of the darkness I was in. His Love, the Truth, and acceptance pulled me out of the lies and secrecy and into the light. There is so much darkness in well held secrets; it’s so rarely exposed to the Light. With each step I surrendered my desire to mask the imperfections of my abilities and ugliness of my soul. And my climbing crew watched and cheered and encouraged and cared and cried for me with every pull. Every pull.
Love did that. People filtering perfect love through their own sinful hands, did that. My own personal growth and walk with my Savior did that. But it required something of me, vulnerability. And it required something of them, acceptance. We don’t necessarily like either of those things. Our own vulnerability and other’s can often scare us. Acceptance of others requires us to be honest about our own shortcomings, and that requires, you guessed it, vulnerability.
So, I’m going to do that here, be vulnerable, again…yeesh. My hands are shaking. But I’m laying it out there anyway. Not so you can see all my painful secrets but because you need to see the amazing Grace. This picture you’re gonna see of me won’t be pretty at first. #nofilter I can’t crop or edit the mess of my life. That’s ok, I don’t want to. I see the beauty in it. I see Him in that pit with me. I see Him starting a new story there, giving me a new hope and a future, giving me a new picture–one that is #gracefiltered . I pray you’ll see that too.
It’s up next…