These Pictures on My Wall

There’s that age old question – if this were your last day on earth, what would you be remembered for? That’s such a predictable question with equally predictable answers that my mind has kind of grown numb to it – to its severity and its weight.

I remember the weeks right before my great grandparents passed away. There was this sense of urgency to see them one last time; to snap pictures of smiling faces that we could hold onto long after they passed.

I’ve got one of those pictures sitting on a chest of drawers in my office. Four generations – my great grandma, my grandma, my mom, and I. All smiling that same smile that I was lucky enough to have passed down to me through the generations of these three beautiful women (on the inside and out).

Though I got my eyes from my dad’s side more than I did my mom’s, we all still have that same look in them; that look that we tend to plaster on when the cameras come out.

I was saying goodbye, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the picture, would you?

“I’ve heard that pictures don’t change, just the people inside of them do.”

These lyrics hit me like a ton of bricks one morning as I stared at all the smiling faces looking back at me in my office.

I love having pictures, so I’ve got plenty of them sitting in my office; pictures just like the one above of happy days that make me smile even now.

But that’s not me. At least not anymore.

I’ve changed.

I’m a different person than that girl standing next to the 2015 World Series trophy.

I see the world a little differently than that girl who is laughing with her family.

It’s not all bad though. There has been good change. I’ve grown so much closer to God over this last year and a half. I’ve learned so much about loving people and seeing the good in them before the bad.

I’ve learned forgiveness and a little bit of grace.

I’ve learned to take it easy on myself every now and then.

I’ve learned that even though I am entirely flawed, I am still wholly loved by God.

There’s also been some rough times in between then and now; times that have tried to convince me that I’m better off not trusting anyone ever again.

Times that have attempted to persuade me that I’m not good enough and times that have tried to assure me that I’m far too much to handle.

There have been times that have told me that I am all alone, and times that have almost convinced me that no one really cares.

I am most certainly not that same girl hugging her great grandma only weeks before she passed away.

I remember printing that picture off though, posting it on Facebook, and finding the perfect frame for it, thinking it would look so nice on my chest of drawers and would be a lovely reminder for years to come of the love once shared over four generations.

But it’s still just a picture.

That picture has no love in it. It only captured a moment of posed smiles and hugs.

I don’t want the picture, I want the real thing.

Our society is so saturated with this idea that we have unlimited time to create and put into a collage this ‘life’ that we all want; to prove that we live the life that others assume we have, thinking that we’re living the dream when in reality we’re just capturing it as it passes by.

There’s filters, edits, correctors, and frames.

We add captions, posts, inspirational quotes, and emoji’s, living and reacting through gifs and memes.

I’m not saying that it’s all bad. I’m as guilty of this as the next person. I mean, my ‘conversation-with-only-gifs’ game is on point!

But what I am saying though is that often I think we take this ‘social media’ mentality and try to create a reality out of it.

You can’t airbrush your life though, avoiding the chance to be vulnerable out of fear of actually being seen.

You can’t slap a filter on it and call it good, manufacturing an outward appearance that doesn’t match the turmoil inside to try and convince yourself and others that you’re okay.

If this were your last day on earth, what would you want to leave behind? A perfected photo-shopped picture that doesn’t even look like you or the memories of an imperfect life lived in a mess of love and grace?

What would I want my wall of pictures to tell about me? That I was too busy fumbling with the settings on my camera than I was to actually breathe in the sunset?

That I was too busy trying to find the perfect angle that I missed the fact that my ‘selfie buddy’ desperately needed to talk?

Would my pictures tell a story of a girl who knew what she was all about or who was too preoccupied with how she looked in those jeans?

I’m not saying that pictures are bad. They’re good, they’re fun, and I love having lots and lots of pictures. What I am saying though is that pictures pale in comparison to memories.

Unfortunately, that picture of my great grandma and I? Yeah, most of what I remember about that day was being irritated and feeling self-conscious, wishing that my mom would just put the camera away.

Those are the memories attached to that picture.

And it sucks.

But I keep it anyways, because my great grandma looks so happy to just have her girls there with her. I only wish I could remember being that happy to be there with her too.

My great grandma reminds me every day to be there; to be here, in my life. In the mess, in the beauty, in the mundane, and in the quiet. Be in the divinely-created, perfectly imperfect collage that is your life.

Be there. Make sure the pictures on your wall show living memories rather than captured moments.

One thought on “These Pictures on My Wall”

  1. The last post was raw, this one is very raw – an insight into your struggle that makes me feel it. (Or maybe, rather, it makes me see myself in you – the essence of empathy)

    I think it is interesting that you make the comparison between pictures and time. I had this thought about time (subjectivity): Babies have object impermanence; as adults we seem to have subject impermanence. Why?

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