The family picture displayed on this morning’s newscast was absolutely perfect. The new Dad was beaming. The newborn was wrapped in a pastel blanket. And, Mom looked amazing. Her hair was clean and shining and freshly blown out. Her natural look makeup and sweet bed jacket finished the above-the-fireplace-portrait-ready look. As I watched the anchors congratulate their colleague on becoming a new Mom, I felt more than a little sad.
The segment reminded me of a conversation a friend and I had a few months ago. She shared that she and her husband were hoping to have a second child. This was exciting news and I hugged her and did a little dance. I promised to pray that God’s guidance would be clear. She went on to talk about the things that she would do differently during this second pregnancy. Part of her action plan surprised me; I was shocked that I had never even considered one of the issues that concerned this sweet Mom..
This time, she would make sure to have someone handy to do her hair and makeup before any pictures would be taken. This time, she would get a spray tan (being careful to protect the yet to be born little one) and would have the “right” outfit ready for those first pictures. This time a professional photographer would be with them in the labor and delivery room to make sure that only the most flattering moments would be available to share.
I am guilty. I have seen the “perfect” pictures and I never even thought about what those pictures must have cost those new families. I never considered that those new parents had been doing the most important work of their lives but their pictures looked like they were runway models.
Now, I am not being critical. I encourage folks to do what pleases them within God’s guidance. Please keep taking pictures. I love the ones with sweaty hair tucked into head bands and unshaven dads in scrubs, and, I love the perfect pictures too. But, I will be revising how I comment on those new family pictures. I will tell you about the sweet smiles and not say a thing about anyone’s hair. I will focus on the joy and not on cool clothes. I will see the face of God in your little one and not notice your nails.
It really isn’t about how we look, it is about what we do.
- I applaud the smile of one who rings the bell at the chemo treatment center, celebrating their last treatment.
- I adore the first steps of that one test driving their new hip.
- I love the black marks on skin that direct the path of those important radiation beams.
- I treasure the wave of the veteran who is struggling to make it through another day.
- I thank God for the “zippers” that cover repaired hearts and shoulders and knees and spaces once filled with cancer.
Mary and Joseph probably looked pretty rough on that night so long ago. She had never given birth before; I would bet that she questioned if she was doing anything “right” in that stable. But, rest assured that like every other new parent their smiles of joy had never been brighter.
Relax, My Friend, “Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think He’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you?” (Luke 12:27-28, The Message)
Jill (just one of God’s kids)