Picture taking is an art. I don’t mean the selfies we snap or the staged ones we take that show us all dressed up, ready to take on the night for some big event.
I mean the ones we take just because we are grateful to be gathered with loved ones in our natural state. No fuss. Just… real.
My mom has books and books of old black and white photos. These albums are filled with tiny little corner tabs that hold the pictures in place on black construction-like paper. In white handwritten lettering, are dates, names, places… And in the eyes of people who lived and died long before me, I can see my own. What a gift to be able to put faces with the names that go along with stories I have heard all my life.
These snapshots tell us so much.
I am struck by how we do not recognize the continuity of life. Generations meld and blend with others, carrying on the names we attach to our own. Characteristics and traits that we see in ourselves, can be traced in the faces of ancestors. Even things we wish had not flowed within the bloodline, can be discerned when we know the history of how people conducted their lives.
The other day my daughter, for a school project, needed some photographs of herself when she was a baby. Admittedly, I bristled a bit. Not because I wasn’t happy to retrieve the pics of my beautiful, happy cherub, but because doing so would mean I had to sort through stacks that are stored in a large plastic box beneath my bed.
I knew it would be emotional. And it was.
The thing about pictures, is that it freezes in time who we were at that very instant. We can look closely and bear witness to the love we felt, the blessings we had, the camaraderie of friends and family. We can see the evidence of what God has given us.
Just like the old black and whites that fill the pages of my ancestor’s albums, we have our own that tell the stories of who we were. We don’t realize the connectedness. We don’t see that how we conduct our lives in the present, will someday show up on the faces of those that come after us.
One day perhaps decades from now, someone down the line of our family tree is going to say “Oh, so that is her, the one who…..”
The point of all of this, is simply to say that who we are, how we do life, is always carried forward. It shows up long after we are no longer here to defend or justify our faithfulness, our integrity, our loyalty, and our character.
The man or the woman in the mirror is not a fleeting image. It’s so much more important than we can imagine. How others will see us should be as people who stood for the right things — who were honest, loving, and kind.
I retrieved the pictures for my daughter’s project. And, in that box were countless photos of my courtship and wedding, our precious babies, my family, and celebrations of every kind. There were snapshots of many loved ones now with the Lord, and of moments so private, so wondrous, that my heart can hardly contain the remembrance of such joy.
Intermixed with it all too, is the hint of sadness that comes when I have to acknowledge how rich these blessings were, how easily they were taken for granted, and then squandered. The story of our lives was altered.
In this day of selfies and Facebook, the photos we so casually post or keep stored on our phones, what will they say about us and the life we are living? Will they say more than just how beautiful or handsome we looked?
The story of our lives is in how we live — truly live. It’s not in how we look while doing it. It’s in how we stand in our character, how we enrich the lives of others, how we were kind, how we conducted ourselves in the face of difficulty. It’s in how we cherish our blessings and value those whom God has given to us.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I am coming to understand it is worth so much more than that.
Live well and reflect His righteousness in all that you do, and what you leave behind will speak for itself.
Smile. You truly are on candid camera.