my so-called-insta-life

Pictures are stories captured in moments. (Or so that’s what my Instagram blurb says.)

It IS true. The shutter opens and closes for less than a second and depending on how fancy shmancy your device is, you can have a 40 picture burst in a mere 2.5 seconds.

Then you crop and chop and filter and frame– and VOILA- out comes the image we pass on about our lives to how many ever followers or friends we have.

It’s so simple. But is it? What you didn’t see are all the mistakes and outtakes, all the before filter blemishes and lighting issues, or more importantly the emotions that no emoticon could quite convey.

So here’s the lowdown: my beautiful picture of the beach was amidst a heart full of worry and turmoil. The cute one with my teenagers had a prelude of not-so-nice sibling spats and concluded with complaints about “how ugly I look in every picture”. The one with my hubby (where we look so in love after 22 years) was taken after a couple days of exhausted tension in which countless conversations seemed to fall on deaf ears for us both.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to bash on social media pics or the evils of selfies or the perfectly coifed and highly filtered shots we post. (I always find it strangely ironic when people complain about that through the conduit of social media!)

Rather, I am simply reminded that life is like the photos we share, snapshots into a larger world- a moment in time that passes as quickly as our shutter speed. And often, it is not all it appears to be.

Maybe you’re going through hell right now, waiting with baited breath for this season to be over. The shutter can’t close quickly enough on life as you know it.

Perhaps, the picture you posed for is a moment you wish could last forever, hoping by the image captured, you will be able to conjure this blissful memory for years to come.

Whatever the case, good or bad, the moment will pass soon enough. If you look longingly into the snapshot of someone else’s life, it may appear glamorous, exciting, perfect even, but it’s not. It really isn’t. Remember that you can never know the “before filter or effects” version of their picture. You see what they want you to. The pixels on the screen only tell a fraction the story.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s stop pretending that all those words are amazing, beautiful and stunning because they are not. In fact, some are downright ugly and painful. But some truly are magical and lovely, picture stories that will linger on for years to come.

Life is Like a 1,000 Piece Puzzle

One by one, I turned over the pieces. My excitement was a bit diminished by the task- tedious and monotonous.  One thousand pieces was daunting. The tiny cardboard cut-outs appeared so insignificant and disjuncted. Yet, I knew this was an imperative step I would not regret later.

Life is like this 1,000 piece puzzle: sometimes daunting, at moments seemingly impossible, pieces and parts that appear elusive to the bigger picture, progress is slow, but bit by bit an image is born.

I studied the box’s glossy image, captivated by the night time cityscape. It was peaceful and serene, so unlike the scattered mess that lay before me. The edge pieces would prove so much easier than the middle (this I knew from experience), so I tackled them first. Without these, the more challenging parts would lose their definition and purpose.

I know the “edges” that frame the whole must be constructed meaningfully and purposefully. It would be simple to fashion the framework into a “self- gratifying, grab for the gusto, it’s all about me” picture. But the more arduous effort is trusting the Divine power outside myself to be the framework that will hold up and support all the smaller parts. God as Master of me, hemming me in before and behind, sometimes chaffs against my self-sufficiency, my sense of accomplishment even. Yet, deep down my soul cries out for Him.

With the edges complete, I decide to piece together a part that seems most challenging, for fear that if I leave it for last, I will become discouraged and give up. It is the reflection of lights on water; lights that appear almost identical except for a few variances in color. After this section, the other parts flow together nicely, until I tackle the night sky, which is a vast expanse of blackness, save a few small stars. I want to rip out my hair. It is driving me nuts!

Some seasons of my life have been this night sky: perplexing, discouraging, even enraging. I can’t see how things fit and I certainly am NOT enjoying it. Time stretches out before me vast and uninviting. I have to tell myself to remember WHO: frames me in, keeps me safe in His loving, watchful care, and knows the plan far beyond the moment of difficulty I see.

Other seasons have been the more pleasing satisfying parts: the “easy” pieces that fit together on the first try, the ones you spot amongst the messy pile and just pop them right into their spot. These pieces are like the breath of fresh air, the lovely lingering sense of a job well done or just the simple pleasure of being with family and friends. These are the days you wake up and feel at peace, when your faith buoys you above the surface and anchors your soul to rest in the bigger picture.

I gingerly place together pieces 999 then 1,000. Running my hand over the completed picture, I sit back in my chair satisfied and wonder how many hours this took me. Does it matter? Not really. I am finished and now relish the fruit of my labors both easy and difficult. 

My “life” puzzle isn’t finished until I draw my last breath. The sum of the parts make the picture that God intended- and those will never look just like anyone else’s.  My own finished product will be uniquely mine, fashioned and put together by the Creator of the universe. What could be more beautiful than that?!