It’s gorgeous, isn’t it, this view? The weather in Minnesota has finally turned to summer. The hot temperatures and clear blue skies provide the proof we desperately needed: that winter, indeed, doesn’t last forever.
But this gorgeous scene? It only shows what the eye captures. It doesn’t reveal the heart behind the lens. In this world of social media, lives are daily displayed in living color. Pictures are posted of our “Pinterest perfect” lives, leading others to believe that perhaps everyone else but you have their lives all together, their families whole, relationships pristine. To be sure, there are the Facebook “rants” and random messy peeks behind the social curtain, but the majority of posts portray a happy, cleaned-up version of our personal lives.
Why is this, I ask? Why do we strive to put forth appearances that are anything less than perfect? I suspect there’s more than one answer. For some of us, it may be that we are simply finding joy and expressing it, wishing to share it with the world. As Christians, we desire to give glory to God, to show others what He has done and is doing. Joy has a way of spilling over, resembling deep waters that cannot be contained. Like a rushing waterfall, joy shouts. Or, like streams in the desert, joy runs deep, sometimes reflecting instead the still, mirrored surface of our heart, a heart content with the moment by moment provision of God.
Others, perhaps, strive for an outward expression of inward desires. They hope, maybe, to somehow bring about the longing in their heart to fulfillment. Consciously or unconsciously, they want the peace portrayed on the screen. They recognize hope and thirst for it.
A few, however, gaze at the seemingly perfect lives of their friends and family through the social media lens and scoff. They know better. The still water and blue skies don’t fool them. They’ve been through more than a few storms and know the aftermath of them. They don’t see the beauty from before the storm, but only the devastation afterward. They want the “real” picture. They want the grittiness of life, caring not about platitudes, but honesty. They just want someone, for God’s sake, to stand up and be truthful, to bare the ugly as well as the good.
The social media snapshots of our lives may be breathtakingly beautiful, but they are just that: snapshots. Rarely does one have the full picture of the life beyond the screen, past the ‘net. The truth is, life isn’t perfect and some of the hard has made some hard. But some of the hard has made some soft, chipped away at the edges, the sharp corners. Some of the hard has made some, not bitter, but better. Can you see it? Does it look familiar?
Friends, the picture may be stunning and, while we give thanks for the beauty, let’s remember there’s more to what we see. Let’s not forget that a heart can hurt, can grieve and ache all while acknowledging the lovely. Let’s gaze with eyes of grace, mouths formed, not of pouting, but of pulchritude. May we recognize those who appear perfect, not as better than ourselves, but as one with a story, a perfectly imperfect story.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when was the last time you asked someone to tell you the story behind the picture?
(That photo above? It’s from Faith’s Lodge. Faith’s Lodge is stunning, a haven for the hurting. It looks perfect, right? But it’s beauty? Well, there’s a story behind the picture; an achingly beautiful story.)