Someone recently told my sister-in-law, after solely viewing the home page of my blog, that she would never read my blog because my “photos were too good and too perfect.” She went on to say that she refused to put herself up under that kind of condemnation every day because she only has one child and most days cannot get out of her pajamas and “that blogger has five children and seems to have it all together.”
On one hand, I have to commend her. She was decisive enough to immediately know her limits in what she thought she could handle. I can applaud her for being bold enough to say no to what she thought would only add to her stress and distress to her life as a mother.
On the other hand, I grieve the fact that she completely missed the message I desire to convey as a writer through this blog, as a wife to my husband, as a mother to my children, as a follower of Jesus, and as a woman.
When the plan to begin this blog first came together, a friend of a friend who is a wedding photographer offered to take our family photos as a gift. I knew one of the major themes throughout the entirety of my writings would be the idea of “perceived perfection.”
The goal for my family Cinderella photo shoot was to create something that looked like a mystical fairytale-like dream. Something as close to the most recent Disney Cinderella film as possible.
I wanted the images, as best as I was able, to be as perfect as I could get them. I wanted to have my entire family clean, happily smiling, put together, fresh, and fixed. And all of this was for a purpose…
I thought my photographer did an amazing job! He picked a great location, creatively used smoke bombs and lights, and brought lots of friends to help out with managing our kids! Yet the images, no matter how perfect they turned out, do not capture the reality of my life…which is the entire point.
Now, truth be told, although I think my boys looked like a million bucks that day, the reality is I didn’t spend much money on their clothes at all. Matt and I visited about a dozen Goodwill stores in the greater parts of Orange County to piece together all of our boys’ suits and we spent less than $100 on everything.
I wore a lovely blue dress that I think looked amazing, yet the reality is my beautifully flowing, incredibly large, sparkling Cinderella gown is actually my slightly altered 14 year old wedding dress that was literally spray painted with Lowe’s Rustoleum Blue Paint (thank you Coral Rae for doing such an amazing job) with added sparkle-glitter-spray from Michaels…and I’m so NOT joking…
I intentionally asked my photographer to continue photographing during all of the down time of our session, specifically the imperfect parts; stopping to check my phone, to deal with a child who decided to throw a fit, the crying, the lack of immediate obedience, the attempts to get the kids situated and standing perfectly only to have it all fail from one child not wishing to participate.
I wanted to intentionally document the imperfection amidst the perfection.
The following series of pics is exactly that…watch how long it took to get ONE good photo…
The goal was to get us all individually standing on a wooden post by ourselves in a specific order.
Everyone was trying to help get the kids to stay on their post.
Instead, there were lots and lots of tears.
Total melt downs and loads of crying…and this was the very first spot we went to for the shoot! We were not off to a good start.
Nothing was working. The two little ones were so scared to stand on the posts and there was NO convincing them that the photo would take less than 10 seconds! It was just not going to happen.
We tried everything!!! I was getting frustrated, the kids were crying, Matt was ready to call the whole thing off! They were NOT having it!
And finally, finally, finally, we just gave up, changed the plan and daddy held the two that wouldn’t stand by themselves.
Ahhhhhhhh….and here is our “perfect” photo! ta da!!!
It’s far enough away that you cannot see the red puffy eyes from the two youngest. But still close enough that you can see the attitude in Kai, who is on the far right. My perfect family. 🙂
We see images of lovely things constantly. We see it on every social media account, billboard and magazine. From homes, to hair, to bodies, to decor, to gardens, to table settings, to Christmas trees, to clothing, to children…beautiful images are everywhere.
And the resources available to be able to access those images abound even more. There is no avoiding it. And even if you find the courage to cancel your social media accounts or avoid certain blogs, it doesn’t stop the constant bombarding of images we perceive as perfect.
The smoke bombs were making me cough and choke and my eyes were watering like crazy! That was the end of my carefully applied eye makeup!
Lovely things, lovely people, and lovely images are not the problem. I am no different than the girl who didn’t want to see my blog in that I often think the problem is “out there”.
Yet the reality is that the problem is my own heart when I allow myself to compare what I know is imperfect about me to what I perceive is perfect in someone else. I then allow that perception to move me toward unhealthy despair or overwhelmed with desire…or both.
Perceived perfection often produces covetousness.
How often do I fail to remember that the images I see are often not reality for others either? The dissatisfaction that is born from a wrong perception of perfection in others moves me to wanting what I do not have. I then become angry that I do not have what I want and I fight in order to obtain it.
This is called covetousness.
I take things that are good and turn them into things that are evil. Choosing to view or not view those “perfect” images doesn’t change my root problem.
The problem is a root of coveting in my heart.
How often do we see an image on social media and then attempt to adjust our lives to strive toward that image as a #goal or #lifegoal or #dream that we now have for ourselves? How often do we see a snap shot of someone else’s life and then wish we had theirs instead of ours? How often do we find ourselves wanting the things we see others have?
When we choose to measure ourselves by an arbitrary bar or some standard that we feel we need to attain to, it will always bring about one of two responses in our souls: pride (for the days when we feel we get it right) or despair (for the days when we feel like we’ve failed). And both are major pitfalls that take the focus off of the only One who IS perfect and puts the focus on ourselves who are the imperfect.
Perfect pictures do not equate to a perfect life. No matter how we dress it, fix it, paint it, or make it up. We are broken people, with broken stories, who have broken and imperfect lives.
Yet here’s the good new. There is One who IS perfect and His name is Jesus. He humbled himself, becoming broken on our behalf that we might be healed from our brokenness and given His perfection.
He alone deserves the glory.