Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Beyond the Image
What do you see when you look at this picture?
To the general observer, you'd see a family (we have enough facial similarities it looks like we are related) - willing to pose in a festive environment. We're snuggled together, so we are at least close enough to fake it. We look, more or less, pretty much like we are pulling off this family Christmas thing.
When I look at it, I immediately notice myself first. Do I like that dark of lipstick on my lips? How bad is the forehead crease (caused by many nights of neck/back discomfort grooving the grimace line even deeper). I wonder if the filter eradicated the zits on my chin - THAT NEVER GO AWAY! I like the hair color, recently done by Christi - having to be done more often these days because the gray is invading faster... and the new part to the other side, which more than one person has commented makes me look more like Michele. But, I also look at how I'm posing, to make sure that I don't have multiple chins, frequently seen in photos where I'm not personally in charge of the photo taking because I don't have enough self discipline to lose the 10-15 pounds that would have me really looking like my twin sister (I'm not competitive or anything....).
I see Brayden - NOT smiling with his eyes, pulling on his jacket because he can't keep his hands from pestering with someone when posing - even at 16 and a half. I also notice he looks very tall in this picture. He has exceeded John, measuring in at about 5'9" these days, but not as much as it looks in this pic.
Mikayla - is also NOT smiling with her eyes. In fact, if you were to see the next image, she was the first to be done with the posing and had already started walking away with an eye roll. She's growing too, past 5 feet now - but still a ways to go.
John, actually looks like he's genuinely smiling. He's smiling because he's happy I am, and is doing all he can to make me happy.
A while ago, a random comment was made to someone about our family. It was one of those, "What do they really mean by that?" comments, which had me scratching my head for several days in concern that what they were saying is that we appear to come off as better than we are - or having it all together. Seriously?! It had me wondering if I needed to start a hastag like #MondayMiseries or #WhyWe'reNotPerfectWednesdays on Social Media - but, eventually, I came to the conclusion, that the people that I care the most about definitely know who we are, because I'm a rambler, and an open book. I generally feel like the easiest way to make a friendship closer is to be vulnerable to my own pitfalls, open the grace gates wide open - and hope they do the same (or generally, the friendship won't continue).
But, perhaps it doesn't always come across that way in my blog, or on Instagram, or Facebook. So, I've been trying to do more #keepingitreal hashtags and this above picture was one of them.
To set the scene, we'd just arrived at a local festive shopping area that holds a candy store where our Countdown Calendar activity for the day had indicated we'd visit and pick out candy. It was the last day of school for our kids of 2015, I'd had a nice, quiet day wrapping on my own - and it should have been a celebratory experience.
Instead, I let a few things sour my attitude prior to leaving - and turned rabid on my family in the car. I unleashed on all the little things I'd let pile up - "I'M PRETTY SURE I'M THE ONLY PERSON IN THIS FAMILY THAT HAS WATERED EITHER OF THE TREES - WITHOUT ME, THEY'D BOTH BE TOTALLY DEAD BY NOW!!!!" - among other comments chock full of grace and loving-kindness. Both kids quickly uttered a solemn one-word "Sorry", while John decided to engage and let me know I wasn't the only one having to work hard in the family. I'm not sure which irritated me more - the kids, for not expanding on all the reasons they were sorry, or John, for being right.
So, there you go - moments after leaving the car from above-described car ride, this picture was taken, at my request - and the kids were most likely terrorized to do anything but comply. John was just happy to get over me in that kind of mood....
I LOVE CHRISTMAS! Truly, I do. It is like an annual vacation every year. But, just like a vacation, the expectations and build up become astronomical. Friday was the day where the damn broke and I had to get back to "Ground Zero" at my level of disappointment for not being where I wanted to be - or getting the kind of help I wanted to get - or even the kind of responses for all of my efforts from everyone.
Thankfully, there's enough memes, Instagrams, and Facebook confessions out there to make me feel like I'm not alone - and keep me laughing. I'm also surrounded by people in similar scenarios that aren't afraid to shoot straight either.
So, let it be known, this family does not have their act together. We are all quite self-centered. We all struggle with our own feelings being most important, and tend to lash out first before pausing to pray about it. We all love this season, but each of us gets too caught up in it, to the point that if its not painted exactly as we envisioned, we are disappointed.
It's ridiculous then, and oh-so-humbling, that as I profess to be a Christian -that I have yet to even acknowledge that yet in this post about Christmas. Because, on that very first Christmas, I'm gonna go out on a limb that Mary didn't get all of her expectations met for what it would be like to have her very first child. Or even to tell her future husband that she was pregnant. Or where she got to spend the very first Christmas. And, yet, she did what God called her to, and for that reason, we all have hope - and unconditional love - and the gift of eternity to spend with God.
It's almost a cozy picture you'd envision - the one so many artists have painted of what the very first Christmas family picture would look like. Mary, all glowy, after having just labored and delivered a baby, Joseph, looking proud and adoring, Jesus, sitting in his beautiful clean, white cloths, swaddled in harmonious sleep - with baby lambs and calves nuzzling in. But, I'm going to guess that picture we envision is even further off base than the one I debunked above.
I know it's a little late, but I'd really like to try to focus a little bit more on that image - and its reality and truth, than my own this Christmas season.