Wrinkle Free Living

Last year we took these Christmas day photos. Dad in his best shirt, Mum in her favourite blouse. Daughter in a silver dress with layers of flouncing net. Son in his kilt. Tree, sparkling in the corner.  Camera set, timed to perfection…

And that’s when it went wrong.

In truth, I can’t really remember what went wrong. But pretty much everything from that point did go wrong.

There were tears, and anger, and tantrums and…yep, pretty much everything you don’t want in your family Christmas photo. Not the memories you were hoping to preserve exactly…

We now have a very interesting set of photos from that particular session. We had a great one we put on our ‘Thank you for the Gift’ card that year. Four beaming faces. Four beautiful outfits. One perfect family image.

 

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But what we also have – and yes, these are the ones we chose not to put on our thank you card – are a good number of photos that show the meltdown off to perfection.

Son sulking.

Son absent.

Daughter scowling.

Mum frowning.

Dad absent.

Son red-faced and teary eyed.

Daughter still scowling.

Smiles through gritted teeth.

Son absent again.

If photos played sound, yeah you’d hear the distant wailing.

But this image of unruly behaviour, discontent, misery and sadness is not what I want to upload to Facebook wishing everyone a hearty splash of Christmas cheer.

Nope. I want wrinkle free living.

Polished-to-perfection-look-how-fabulous-we-are-happy-Christmas-loveliness.

Except really I don’t want that.

Wrinkle free living is really a terrible bind.  But it’s one we’ve got awfully good at. We show people the best of us, and we present images that are just that – images. They are single moments in time, often posed for purpose. And they hide the sadness, the loneliness, the anger, the pain, the dread. We iron out every trace of what makes us just like everyone else. In our own way, we’ve become pretty adept at using our own versions of Photoshop when we scrub away, hide, gloss over, erase any trace of a life that has trials, troubles or any kind of tantrum bubbling under the surface.

But hang on – who wants to see 27 photos of my family meltdown on Facebook? Who wants a snapshot of themselves trying to coax their screaming toddler out from under the table in Starbucks? Who really looks forward to seeing pictures of their friends crying because the baby won’t sleep, or their boyfriend just left, or the lady at the salon waxed her eyebrows wonky?

Of course we don’t. I’ll spare you the trauma of having to look through the family Christmas photo session we’d all rather forget.

But somewhere in that, have we forgotten to be real with each other?

Are we so busy polishing the veneers we have unwittingly plastered to our existences, we have somehow forgotten that we are people? Have we hung empathy out to dry, catapulted ourselves among the stars crying “yes I really am this fabulous!” until all that is left is someone noone else can relate to and everyone else thinks has got it made?

I’m sure there’s a lot to be said for the notion of keeping your dirty laundry in your own closet. But the problem comes when we forget that we are called to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). God has built us together as a family. Not as a portrait of perfection that makes us unrelatable to a hurting and needy world.

Hebrews 10 24-25

 

Take a look at what Hebrews 10:24-25 says: Let us consider – we’re going to need to think on this. Be imaginative, be creative, take the time and the intent to really decide and choose to find ways that show those in and around our lives that we care.

What happens when you stir a pot? You create movement, you mix together a whole host of ingredients that individually might not taste so good, but when they’re combined – when they’re fused together – then that’s when something wonderful happens. This is what we should be like! God has brought us together, all unique and with our own set of gifts, experiences and trials to share with each other.

I like Facebook (I still don’t get Twitter, but I’m working on it), I find social media such a blessing in so many ways, but we mustn’t make for ourselves islands, where we know the best bits about each other, but all we ever see is a still picture on a screen, maybe instagrammed to super-precision, that presents a fleeting moment of who we are.

These things bring us together in a way, but it’s a limited way and it’s isolating.

Let us not neglect to MEET together.

Let’s NOT be faces without lives. Idealisms without trials. Photoshops without wrinkles.

Rather, let’s get together. Laugh together. Share together. Be real together.

Hurt together, bear one another’s burdens, pray together, encourage one another.
 
Let’s be what people need to see.
 

Reflections of Jesus.

 

Grace and Love

Helen x

 

Comments

  1. Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It’s the little changes
    which will make the biggest changes. Thanks a
    lot for sharing!

    Like

  2. Great post! It’s so easy in our social media saturated society to only show the shiny exterior. But it’s so good for us to be vulnerable and admit that things aren’t perfect. By the way, I’d love to see some of the “failed” photos. 😉

    Like

    • I agree, we only want people to see the best of us, and that can have limitations. The “fails” may make it out one day! Ha! Thank you for stopping by 🙂

      Like

  3. That perceived perfection out there is such a subversive thing. We can’t live up to it, so we feel inadequate and unworthy. This is such an important post, and we all need to be more real.

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  4. Love the sentiment you expressed here. We all know perfection isn’t a real thing, but it is so hard seeing perceived perfection in front of us all the time.

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  5. I ADORE this post! We are all human, and we have so many things that others do not see. You are incredibly right that we often show our best sides. I need to be better about this! Thank you for putting a Christian spin on it as well. I had no idea your post was heading that direction, but I enjoy how you put Him into the post. You have a new follower. =)

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  6. Haha, as a freelance photographer, I can tell you that the outtakes are usually my favorite pictures, they often catch the real personality of the person. So don’t be afraid to let that beautiful mess shine sometimes. I think that social media has created a wedge of comparison and judging in friendships, to and extent those things have always been there, but social media makes it so easy to covet someone else’s seemingly perfect life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful truth! Thank you for putting words on a concept I frequently wrestle with in my head. I really enjoyed your post, and started following your blog. Thanks!

    Like

  8. So much truth and meaning in your post! I do sometimes have a chuckle at “friends” whose lives seem so perfect online….but we all know that no one has a perfect life! I am glad that one day I will have a perfect life thanks to my faith in Jesus Christ and the promise we have in Him! Blessings!

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  9. Its always the little things like theses that make the big difference, Thanks for this amazing article. Very valuable.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Helen, this post reminds me that when I am comparing myself to someone else, I am comparing my wrinkles to their freshly-ironed life. How important it is to not only be forgiving and accepting of our own wrinkles,but really understand that the Christmas photo you see of your best friend/brother/Neighbor’s family is the carefully chosen best one out of 35 outtakes! Thanks for this great post. 🙂

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  11. Very well said. I sometimes get tired of looking at Facebook and feeling like everyone has such great things going on in their lives, especially when I don’t. I have also been open and honest when I needed it on Facebook, and have received help and healing. We have to remember the saying that everyone is fighting a battle that we know nothing about.

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    • That’s very true, so much of what we see on Facebook etc is probably a far cry from what is really going on with people…it’s so important to be able to speak out honestly when we need to. Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

  12. Great post with cute family photo… But the lesson you learnt was quite costlier but worth it….

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  13. You are absolutely right, being together as a family is truly what really matters. because time flies so quickly. Great post.

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  14. I love the “real” family photos. They always make me smile.

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  15. Kristin @ Biblical Wives Book Club says:

    I can completely relate to the way you were feeling that day. My husband and I have a tradition of getting a picture with my niece at each of her birthdays, but birthday #3 was an epic disaster. We chose the worst possible moment to try to get a picture with her – her dad had just rolled out her brand new bike – and taking her away from it caused one of the worst melt downs I’ve ever seen from her. After several attempts to convince her that she could go back to her bike if she would just smile for one picture, we decided to embrace it. We ended up with a very real, and very funny, photo of the three of us making screaming, unhappy faces. It is one of my very favorite photos and we even turned it into a new tradition – a silly picture for every birthday. They serve as a constant reminder that life can get messy, but it helps to have a sense of humor about it.

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    • Ah, I love that! More spontaneous and funny photos are definitely needed…the lighter side of life needs to be embraced for sure! Thank you for sharing that and stopping by! 🙂

      Like

  16. This is so true! I get so tired of looking at the “Facebook families” when I know the struggles, fights, and mishaps that happen daily in those families!

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  17. Oh goodness! We had the same experience trying to get a picture for our Christmas card last year. For some reason it is important to me to have a family portrait with everyone smiling. Mine don’t sit still for very long! I know it’s acceptable to be imperfect family who doesn’t get along all the time, but can’t they just be still, smile, and pretend to like each other for 1 minute? LOL

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  18. This is a great reminder to not get so busy chasing or aiming for perfection that we forget how to relate to others. It’s great to let others in and let them see that we don’t always have it all together as well as to be there for others during their time of needs showing compassion and generosity.

    Like

  19. onemoretimeevents says:

    This really is a great way of putting it out there..great post

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  20. Really nice reminder of what matters in life. It’s so easy to get caught up trying to project the image of a perfect life, when in fact no one is living that life.

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  21. Thank you for your post. It’s great. We should put always everything into perspective and social media makes us think that the grass is always greener and it’s simply not true.

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  22. My daughter has 5 children so getting a Christmas picture where they are all happy is nearly impossible. One of my all time favorite pictures is when the youngest was pouting but the other 4 had big smiles, so cute!
    Nice analogy.

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  23. so often people don’t want to show the truth of what their family life is. growing up, that’s how we were too. picture perfect on the outside and dysfunctional on the inside. although i do want my pictures of my family to reflect happiness, i also want there to be some realistic pictures as well!

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  24. I really love this. “photoshop without wrinkles” It’s always best to share who we are authentically – flaws and all. No one is perfect and people need to know that and live that.

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  25. This is a very true post. We spend so much time ironing out our ‘realness” for social media that sometimes we forget to actually “be” with people. Thank you for this post. We may not need to air our dirty laundry to the world, but we do need to be human and not spend so much time pretending to be perfect.

    Like

    • That was the sentiment I was going for – there are some things that are just for our families, but being authentic is necessary for having meaningful relationships too. Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

  26. I couldn’t agree more with you on this one. We only post those smiley pictures…not the ones where the kids are melting down. I didn’t even send out pictures for a lot of years because the kids wouldn’t co-operate. I would rather not deal with the drama of a photo shoot. We do need to be better about getting in each other’s lives.

    Like

  27. You know, every once in a while, someone will post that not so wrinkle free picture on FB, and you know what happens? Everyone loves it, because we can all relate:) It’s hard to put our real selves out there, but in doing so, we make connections through our real-life experiences. And, yes, we do need each other to carry each others’ burdens. God did not design us to live life alone. Thanks for this post!

    Like

    • It IS hard to put our real selves out there, I totally agree. But you are right, when we are more authentic with each other, then we can begin to grow together. Thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. My children are grown and gone and we are already on the next generation and what I have found after many, many years. Those pictures that I hated back then are now some of my favorites. The bring back silly memories and things that I had forgotten about…real life. I really enjoyed this piece. Have a great weekend.

    Like

  29. Holiday’s can be a terrible time of year for a lot of reasons— embrace all the memories good and bad… It’s life right?

    Like

  30. Pierced Wonderings says:

    This morning on the SITSblogging chat on twitter we were talking about how it almost feels like the purpose of our engagements on Social media, etc is to just present the best pieces and how we are all so weary of keeping up with the rat race. I’m certainly not a fan of letting everything hang out but I do appreciate the glimpses of reality.

    Like

  31. I love the reminder to be more real with each other. Finding a balance between only showing the perfect family photo and showing all the terrible ones.

    Like

  32. This is a well written reminder of how the church should work. It doesn’t matter the background history or choices being made in the present. What does matter is the love between Christians in the good AND rough times. There was a lady in the mall a few years ago.. I was walking by her as she was waiting for her wailing toddler to calm down. I wanted so much to go over and tell her all would be ok and that I got it. I didn’t encourage her. Next time I won’t miss that opportunity. Reality is messy. 🙂

    Like

  33. This is something I think about every so often, everyone shares a pristine picture of their life. We definitely don’t need to be perfect to relate to each other.

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  34. Sarah@TheOrthodoxMama says:

    Great reminder not to compare ourselves with others, because likely the pictures we see of their lives are not a real representation of the family. Thanks.

    Like

  35. Too true. It’s really easy to only present one side (the good one) on social media. We are human and not perfect. But that’s okay because we’re real. 🙂

    Like

  36. alocalwander says:

    I will take this a step further…I actually do try to be real on FB. Oftentimes it is me telling what ridiculousness has happened in my day that I would just love to hear someone tell me is normal, or give some encouraging words. But in the same way that we, ourselves, show the glossy, responses are rarely ever genuine. People look for the humor, or make it humorous but won’t relate that “Hey, I’ve been there, too.” It is definitely the down fall of social media.

    Like

    • Very true. It is good to be real with each other….maybe if we all did it more often then we would all be more comfortable with encouraging each other better! Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  37. I think that sometimes, we lack the “desire” to reach out and be kind to someone. We forget that just like us, they also have struggles and a pat on the back, a smile can make a big difference. We were instructed by the Lord to look after eachother but instead we’re buidling and making up, what you said, a wrinkle free life. we tend to forget that each of us is a work in progress and the people around us are our ministry.

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  38. Not something I have ever had to deal with thankfully. But kudo’s for the knowledge.

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  39. Amen and amen!!! I’m all about keeping it real. Life is not perfect and it will never be!

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  40. Very thoughtful. I’m all for keeping things positive, especially when I struggle so much with pessimism myself, but remembering to be real is crucial in relationships. Thanks for the reminders 🙂

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  41. Great post! I just recently had a conversation with some friends about the face of social media and how it is effecting everyday life for so many people/ Comparison has reached a whole new level, and it is heartbreaking. Wonderful post!

    Like

  42. ❤ I love reading real posts like this! It makes me want to come back and helps me to connect. Thanks for sharing a true picture of your family!

    Like

  43. This was awesome! And yes, I think we try to capture the best pictures to show a happy time and keep a memory of the good, because sometimes the messy overshadows the good. I think back to my oldest 2 children and how many problems I had with them at that time. And then I look at the pictures that I took and kept and think, wow look how cute they were, you’d never guess they behaved “that” way. But I am happy that I have cute smiling pictures showing that side of them.
    But I do think the faces we present on social media aren’t always real and it gives a perception to something we aren’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thanks for that…all our photos are precious and the positive ones are great to be able to remind us of good times 🙂 And you are right, sometimes those pictures are good reminders of lovely moments when not all of life is really lovely.

      Like

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