What Party Are We Due? The Snapshot Vs. the Story


If a picture is worth a thousand words, the thousand words are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of words we're writing with our lives. 

The snapshots never, never, never tell the whole story and when we forget that, we get in trouble.

Here's what I mean.

When I was home full-time with three children, I feared snapshots. I feared judgment a lot. I think many committed mothers do. I tried to tell myself when my house was messy or I wasn't put together in my or my children's appearance that it was only a snapshot, but I feared others assessing me that way. Talk about pressure. Why wasn't I better able to open my front door with pride, invite others into the mess, and be proud of the life we were working through?

Recently, I had professional portraits taken. I thought about those portraits for months. Which photographer would I choose? Where should we take them? What time of year do I want them?  What should I wear? What do I want to communicate with them? In the end, 100s of pictures were taken, 88 were chosen by the photographer, I chose 25, and have shared less than six.

Anything we do in our lives that gets captured in a moment represents hours, days, others, energy, all the things. We have to remember this as we navigate our own life and story.

My oldest son graduated from college this weekend from a private California college (cha-ching). As I prepped the customers in my bookshop that I would be closed that day, many asked where he was graduating from. I would cringe a little when I answered. "Please don't think it was my husband's and my financial situation that made this happen," I would want to say. "That's not a true snapshot." I mean, what if they think my little store, supported by their purchases, got him there and they resent that because I seem better off financially than them? That is so inaccurate! But I can't control people's thoughts.

Instead I posted some of our celebrations on social media. Friends celebrated with us with likes and congratulations. People can be so gracious! I was so proud as a mom and frankly, of myself. I wanted to share the day with others.

But the snapshots don't show the bitter tears I have wept as a mother of three. The fear...real fear, not the fear based on other's judgment...I hold in my heart for them and have to pray The Serenity Prayer over. Day by day, the stories my family are writing are messy. I'm guessing, if you are honest and committed to living life with authenticity, this is true for you, too.

And so I ask you. What story do you write when you look at a snapshot about yourself and others? What stories are you writing behind the scenes? By all means, celebrate the snapshots. And, even when no one else sees, know that what you are writing behind the scenes holds the real weight.

Ask yourself this question. What party can we throw for you? 

Maybe you're a parent of a child in chronic pain.

Maybe you're working very hard to turn your financial life around during a divorce or while trying to hang onto a family home.

Maybe you're overweight and showing up for a family holiday, but they don't know you've fought and worked to lose weight already.

You. are due. a party. What party is that?

If you're comfortable, do claim your party in the comments here or on my Facebook thread. Let's own them and celebrate each other's.