A friend and I were chatting about how we notice people taking photos. 12 year old girls will see a camera come out and instinctively strike a provocative and perfectly poised Gisele pose. Hands on hips, one leg forward, butt out, smoldering pout. FOR REAL? When I was 12 years old… well… this… (me on the right)
So what is that all about? When I was a kid, I had to wait 3 days to get photos from Walgreens. We had 24 opportunities to photo-document our lives and then we had to PAY to get a glimpse of those images. We didn’t use the whole roll of film to get the flawless duck-faced pout. We didn’t take 42 out-takes of ourselves throwing leaves in the air to get the perfect fall moment to collect accolades from our followers. I know my photos are so much better than when I was growing up. The quality is 1000% better. However, there’s something I miss about the actual candid-ness of those snapshots. It was more about capturing moments than about creating perfection.
Last year I was asked to speak at a women’s ministry luncheon and they asked if I had a recent photo of myself. Instead of digging something up, I set to work to get a good headshot of myself. I even put my camera on a high bookshelf, so I could get an angle that wouldn’t reveal my double chin. This is that photo.
But all of it is still so uncomfortable for me. Embarrassing, actually. I know, I’m probably making a bigger deal about all of this, but it has me thinking—what does this all mean? What does it mean that I took 34 photos of my face to find one that I thought was acceptable and then I proceeded to “fix” it with a computer program? What does it mean that my phone has a built-in “Beauty Face” feature that smoothes out my wrinkles and blends in my adult acne? Are we so self-obsessed that we must not only take photos of our own faces to share with all of the InterWebs… but also make sure that it is the absolute best version of that moment?
I know, for me, it’s so easy to let the feedback from others snowball into acceptance. If I’m feeling a little lonely, or like I’m not very significant, I know I can post a cute photo of my kids, a ridiculously staged photo of the dinner I’m preparing, a witty remark about a cashier at Walmart, or a cleverly edited selfie. VOILA! I am noticed! Someone is validating me! What I do matters! I'm funny! People like me!
Isn’t this just another form of idolatry? Not to get all Old Testament on you, but isn’t it? My need to be accepted, to be validated—turning to something that isn’t my Creator? Sounds like idolatry to me. I know in those moments I’m being called by a God who loves me—unedited, unfiltered, without limits. I’m being called to drop the phone and rest in the unconditional acceptance that God gives. The worst version of myself, the one on the inside that no Instagram image will ever see, God knows completely. He knows my heart, my thoughts, my deep weaknesses. He doesn’t offer me fleeting validation. He doesn’t shame me for searching for pseudo-acceptance.
I hear Him in whispers,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
It’s becoming a discipline. Leaning into the Father who gives me rest; who loves me fully, without condition. Remembering my identity as a called child of the Most High God. And that is enough. More than I deserve. More than I could ever ask for.