When You Look Through Your Photos This Year…I Hope You See This.

“Accompaniment….is at the heart of all human growth. We humans need to walk together to break through the shell of egotism that engulfs us and prevents us from realizing our full humanity.”

Jean Vanier

Do you ever realize what doesn’t make it into the photo albums?  

As I look through our thousands of photographs from 2019, I notice a pattern.  

The faces of my dearest people and all the mundane and magical adventures we shared together are the photos that make me stop, stare, and silently whisper to myself “oh wow.

This weary mother’s heart relaxes into warmth and soaks in the silent encouragement when I finally recognize there was so much more to life this year than endless dishes, survival, and battling stomach bugs.

Weeks go by in a blur here. I can’t remember what we did outside of the repetitive yet necessary routines of sleeping, reading stories, cleaning up, and eating.   

But as I reflect on our year in pictures, I see an entirely different story. We went all in with life, and then some!

I am enraptured with my reality yet again.

Of course, there are other random images we collected throughout the year, but they hardly turn my head or spin my heart.

I quickly pass over those flashy and fake Instagram-looking photos, where everything is set a certain way in a certain light. I turn my nose up at the images where I was clearly taking product shots for my shop. I even bypass my own personal highlights from the year. None of these will make it into the album.

It seems we humans have an ingrained filter for the transcendent moments, the ones we’re invited to savor with heaven by our side. For me, it is…

  1. Those moments showcasing my most beautiful work, my creative legacy, my children.
  2. All the times we spent together, be it baking sugar cookies in the kitchen, picnics with friends, riding bikes in Whistler, or summer lake days.

Obviously, our cameras are meant to reveal the highlights. They don’t show the despair we were feeling in the fall, the frustrating toddler in the background, or the long days and nights that stretched us past our limits.  

But within the images I see another layer. An important story calling out for my attention, another perspective on my life, a different narrative to believe.

Could standing in solidarity with my fellow humans, practicing the rhythms of love from morning ’til night, filling my days with faces and laughter and conversations be the essence of life – the good news of great joy?

Sure, we might have taken a few pictures and have fond memories of the house renovations, our work accomplishments, our new creative endeavors, the marathon we ran, the hours we spent resting and reading, and those beautiful gardens we managed to keep alive, but if they didn’t serve to bring us nearer to another human soul then we don’t tend to tuck them away in our heart.

The minutes I found myself wanting to bundle up from 2019 were the rainy day hikes, snuggles on the couch, pancakes on Saturdays, road trips to the beach, gatherings with kindred companions, playing in the garden, popsicles on the deck, ballet classes and swim lessons, and doing art on the kitchen table.

I’ve had to catch my breath several times as I piece together the story of our life over these past 12 months, it’s more remarkable than I ever dared to realize.

You might see six people smiling into the lens of a camera, but I see a story of transformation, growth, grief, and faithful love.

The gospel story has a heartbeat, it’s moving and breathing through the lungs and legs of our every day human adventures, and taking shape in our attempts at togetherness.

The photographs adorning our family album are more than mere favorites. In actuality, they hold the secrets to a life well-lived. The mystery of the gospel is unveiled to those willing to look a little closer.

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