Crisp cool air, vibrant red, yellow, and orange leaves call to me. They signal something is different…there is an end to the hot summer and a reprieve before the cold winter rushes in. North Carolina is especially kind as her cool fall temperatures typically stay moderate well in to December. The pumpkins and crunchy leaves on the ground beg for families to come together and take the traditional fall photos. Fall photos create the perfect backdrop, promise of a fresh new season and a reminder of memories made. I am a sucker for a good Christmas card photo. I love seeing the year unfold. Sometimes there is a beach photo, a big event captured, but if there is no beach trip or big event to share…there is undoubtedly a beautiful fall photo.
Yesterday a friend dropped by with his wife and baby and they delivered some delicious produce from their garden along with a very unique pumpkin. Since our life in Uganda encompasses all things unique AND we do not have a fall season; I wrangled the children and asked if we could please take a “unique fall pumpkin photo?!?!” So simple…right? This was the result of my best efforts.
(And these were just 8 of the dozens I could have chosen…not ONE with all looking, smiling, eyes open…you get the idea.)
No amount of yelling, whistling, and snapping of fingers were able to pull it together. Begging, pleading, and promises of treats and sweets still came up short. Yes the bright Ugandan sun was in their eyes but you know there would be shadows if I took the photo any other way!?! In the end, we all left frustrated, simply too exhausted to snap another pic.
Life is funny. We want so desperately to present well on the outside. But like these photos we are all just a little off. There is rarely a perfect moment when we are not one click away from throwing ourselves down on the ground and having an all out tantrum. (I was so close.)
At times I find myself wanting to fall out of love with facebook. For many reasons but specifically, I find that at any particular moment I am reminded of my without. I am certain my friends who have so longed for a baby struggle through their newsfeed as they see couple after couple announcing their babies’ arrival. Or my single mom friends watching happy couple after happy couple post anniversary photos and vacation getaways. Facebook is a wonderful place to celebrate–but we have a love/hate relationship. As much as we celebrate, FB is a glaring reminder of what we lack. (My facebook “issue” this minute? It is national adoption month. Loads of adoption photos and families fill my feed…not exactly my easiest reads.) In general seeing all of the picture perfect stories where lives are perfectly aligned and hairs are all in place at times can even exhaust me. Let me continue to shout to myself and those I love, “grace sweet momma, grace!” This life is messy. Maybe we are not where we had hoped we would be. Our post baby body causes clothes to cling in strange places. We are waiting just waiting. Our marriage is rocky or our kids are not doing as well as we had hoped in school. Our kids have messy faces and sassy looks. It seems to me there are way more messy moments in this lifetime than picture perfect ones. So I thought it might be fun if we took a moment and went back through our rolls of photos on our phone and picked the one we meant to delete. Maybe just for today–keep the super cute one for your Christmas card, instead post that one–the one with the dirt on the face, and the tantrums. You know, the life is messy print? Pick that one. Post it for my sake…for your sake.
(Suggestions for hashtags: #LifeIsMessy…or FBook captions: Imperfect Fall Photos, Life is Messy, you get the idea. It gives permission to the rest of the world to be real.)
No matter where you are and what is going on…no picture can put a perfect face on an imperfect life. In the mess there is humor, joy, laughter and bad hair days. In our imperfection…we find the Perfect One who created the leaves, pumpkins and all things that bring fall beauty to our backdrop. He loves us and our messy faces and He sees those photos of our lives and smiles.
May You Be a Blessing and Find Permission to Be a Mess,