We moms in particular love to display our happiest moments... you know: the smiling children, the doting husbands, the perfect hair.
No matter what account we present publicly, it is no secret that ALL our journeys include less-than-stellar plot lines. And yet we prefer keeping those flawed narratives on the down-low, under the radar, out of circulation.
I get that. I really do. And I’m not suggesting that we all post three-thousand-word tell-all status updates on Facebook informing strangers about our inmost struggles and woes.
What I am suggesting is this... putting forth only polished perfection and groomed gorgeousness merely presents shiny shallowness; but sharing a few of our less-than-lustrous life moments invites connection, sparks authenticity, stirs hope.
Here’s a great example. Take a look at this picture of my niece Maya at the park:
SUCH a happy girl, don’t you think? But even more amazing is what we DON’T see in this photograph.
We don’t see Maya’s mama climbing closely behind, assisting the awkward clamber up the ladder.
We don’t see Maya’s struggle to simply sit at the top, the result of muscle weakness from Mitochondrial Disease.
We don’t see helping hands standing Maya back on her feet at the bottom.
We don’t see the backpack harboring a total parenteral nutrition pump that literally provides Maya’s nutrients and medication non-stop, 24 hours a day.
We don’t see three tubes attached to her abdominal area or the central line attached to her chest.
We don’t see Maya’s mom run to get the wheelchair because, after three times down the slide, her energy depleted.
Because I now know all that I missed from this seemingly simple photograph, I find the image deep and moving and inspirational in a way that lacked before I knew.
And as I ponder this one moment in time and the story in what I didn’t see - I think about people who crossed my path even today. What in their stories did I miss?
Please don’t mistake my sentiment here: there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting our best foot forward, so to speak; however, I submit that there is something altogether intimate and freeing about sharing our story -- the WHOLE story.
It’s why my sister-in-law shares both the ups AND the downs, the joys AND the heartaches of mothering a special needs child with a debilitating disease.
She wants people to know the WHOLE story -- that while Maya is very sick, her illness does NOT define her; that while Maya struggles to focus and learn, her disease enables her to see life through a different, often clearer, more holy lens.
Like Maya, we ALL fall short of perfection. Each of us -- uniquely eclectic and beautifully blemished -- carries inside tragic story elements. What is it for you... loneliness or depression? frustration or disappointment? pain or heartache? sorrow or grief?
What is affecting your every moment and movement?
Maya’s smiley playground photo brings no clarity to her story; but coupled with just a few unseen -- albeit difficult -- details, and suddenly clarity! depth! inspiration!
Neither mistakes, diseases, or obstacles nor accolades, commendations, or accomplishments alone define us. But together, with God’s help, they all work to refine us.
Sometimes sharing our refining process with others - the good, the bad AND the ugly - is what draws us into deeper connecting, heightened authenticity and invigorating hope.
At the very least, may we be mindful that what we don’t see is every bit a part of a person’s story as what we do.
Thankfully Serving the God Who Sees,