The day my mother bought our first camera, it was like winning the lottery in my adolescent mind. She pulled it out of the box, showed me how it works and then asked me to pose for a picture in the living room of our apartment. And for some reason, that camera transformed into a monster.
I don’t know why, but I immediately developed an irrational fear of having my picture taken. All the photos from that day, in the one and only scrapbook I have from childhood, show me sitting in a mustard yellow wingback chair, with arms wrapped tight around legs pulled up to my chest. My face splotchy red from crying because I did. not.want. my. picture. taken.
I am not even sure why I didn’t want my picture taken, but my mother had some fierce determination. Thankfully that picture documents the trauma, so I can write this blog post today.
For my friends that know me well this being camera shy might come as a shock. Because my camera is like a body part, thrown over my shoulder or tucked inside my bag wherever I go. Murielle asked me if she could borrow it for a school field trip last week and it actually felt like she was asking me for a limb.
I let her borrow it.
However, when I think about this, I still don’t like to have my picture taken. Relatives complain about how I am never in the any of the hundreds of pictures I take.
H says I often make a funny, unnatural face when I pose for one. Murielle and Harrison are quick to remind me (in their angst about how I take too many photos of them) that I am never happy about having my picture taken either.
This is about expectations. Not from the one behind the camera, a boss, my husband, my kids, my mother, the pastor, Sunday school teacher or a friend. It is about the ones I create for myself. The unrealistic, climb Mount Everest in sandals kind of expectations I put on myself.
Expectations we create for ourselves. Where do they come from?
From a magazine cover, an actress we admire, a book we read, a list of rules we learned in church, words from our parents that play like a skipping record, the critique of a favorite teacher, a blog post, Martha Stewart, the bathroom scale.
Wherever they come from, I know where they do not originate. They do not, nor ever will, come from the one who created us, loves us beyond comprehension, the Jesus that shed His blood for you and me just the way we are.
Not who we think we need to be.
Won’t you join me in letting go of the expectations we picked up like burrs stuck on a sweater. The ones we carry around that become a nuisance in our day, hurt more than help. So we can become the one He had in mind that day we took our first breath. Because, you and me, we only have this one life to live and no one else can live it for us.
If we don’t throw aside those expectations we put on ourselves we will miss out on this skipping wildly with raised arms kind of happiness He intended us to live.
May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. ~Ephesians 3:18-19
And as we let go of expectations, counting the gifts with Ann today helps to change perspective:
- For a daughter who responds to correction with grace.
- For the visible change in countenance after a child spends time in spiritual retreat with her peers.
- For the wisdom of my husband.
- For my man who teaches me how to love myself better in the way he extends grace and truth.
- For a God who selectively chooses memories that remind me of His steadfast love.
- How He uses it all for His purposes.
- For Rumors of Water, those words that inspire me to be authentically me.