“He said he can’t work out with me at the gym because he wants to watch Eurovision,” my son says with a smirk on his face when he sits down across from H at the dinner table.
“What is Eurovision?” I ask, needing clarity on why my son is feeling like second choice.
“You don’t know what Eurovision is?” H and Harrison respond in tandem. Heads shake in disbelief as they pass a bowl of chicken between them and spoon rice on plates.
Obviously, I’m clueless since Eurovision has been happening longer than I’ve been alive.
Choose to Begin or Choose to See Life as a Competition
“I have it on. Are you going to come upstairs and watch it,” H yells from the second floor of our terrace house, just as I swirl soapy water around the last dirty pan and rinse the aluminum off until it shines again.
From matching wingbacks, we view the finale of the singing contest that began our dinner conversation. A global talent competition among gifted singers who hope you will like what they offer.
A few minutes into the program, my eyes are diverted to the phone in my palm as I scroll down to the bottom of where I began sharing my life with you on Instagram. Intentions were to delete some of the ugly first offerings, multi-task while being present with my husband.
And if you were to take that journey back to 2013 with me (and I know you are tempted now that I’ve suggested it, but don’t waste your precious time!), when I first created a profile, my gallery might be summed up as a caution: If you want to fail at attracting a following, do this.
Obviously, I was clueless about social media etiquette that garners engagement.
Photos were random and aesthetically unpleasing; captions so simple that they said much of nothing. At first, I felt embarrassed, as if I was revealing something unpleasant I didn’t want you to know about me. But as my ears filled with new melodies from diverse voices singing from the television, my eyes began pooling.
Those bad photos might translate as novice to a stranger, but each tiny box captures a moment fondly remembered. Deleting suddenly felt wrong.
Frames telling the story of friendships translate as sacred, God-picked relationships. Captured moments of mothering are now gifts of maturity glistening with favor. Documented beauty as a balm for pain I didn’t dare speak about publicly are a collection of holy remembrances.
And some of those early photos are like fragments of tissue paper floating in the wind, high above heads, sailing over millions of beautiful galleries without one single glance or notice; not one single finger touching a heart and declaring, “I like that.” Except for one.
What is hidden to the masses is seen by the eyes of God.
In the secret place of intimate friendship with God, my head boughs over the phone and I hear Him whisper, Yes, I remember that walk we shared around your neighborhood; the conversation about your loneliness. I saw your tears and then wiped them away with a slant of light on a yellow patch of wildflowers growing in the ditch. I know how flowers make you happy.
Being Unseen in a World Who Wants to be Noticed
And while my eyes sting, my lips spread into a slanted smile upon a new discovery. There were some, maybe four, who saw me begin and liked my imperfections with their heart.
Your life is not a competition.
Your worth is not measured by what you know or how you look but by what happens in secret when nobody notices but God.
Just begin. Because Jesus likes you.
Who are the people who like the unadulterated, unedited you?
Who are the people who like the version of you that you are prone to delete and forget?
Remember where you began, remember who you are to God, and remember the people who saw in you what you could not see within yourself.
Look back and see how far you’ve come because gratitude is preparation for receiving God’s abundance.
There are seasons, days, and moments in life uncaptured but etched into your history by God’s finger. (Exodus 8:19)
How Holiness Translates for Two Billion People
Last weekend, as I watched reruns of the royal wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, I saw what I missed the first time I captured the momentous occasion.
As the newlywed couple nestle inside a glamorous carriage pulled by soldiers on horseback, down the Long Walk toward Windsor Castle, the shiny red helmets of soldiers bob up and down in tandem. Warriors on a mission to protect and rescue when needed.
As we focus on unity, political correctness, and equality, the world witnesses the majesty of holiness –what it means to be set apart and different — and we are slack-jawed by awe and wonder. We are enraptured by a glimpse of what it means to be set apart as royalty, and addicted to the metaphor of Christ’s love coming back for us blazing from the television.
And If we are honest, we don’t really want to be common, blend in, or be so clued into the culture that the raw image of childlike identity is somehow lost. We want to be known, chosen, and belong for being special, different, and unique. We want to believe the fairy tale is real and God is telling us, it is.
Prince Harry chose an unlikely candidate for his bride and Christ chooses you, an unlikely candidate of His affection, love, and grace. Jesus reaches down from heaven — in beauty and pageantry, with authority and majesty — claiming you as His bride for all eternity.
You are known. You are chosen. You belong to the King of Kings who sees your life that is hidden in Him.
His robes fill the temple of your everyday walking around life with goodness and truth. And his love carries you toward ultimate purpose.
Scroll back to the bottom, of when you were loved for just being you, and today’s agenda seems less like second choice and more like a secret love story unfolding. A whisper in the wind declaring hope does not disappoint.
Those words of truth written so eloquently, heal the forgotten places of my heart, my worth, and most of all my Creator. Fearfully and wonderfully made, He loves the real me, not the ones I work at, perform or present, but the real me, the one He delights in and continues to love and perfect. To hear it and to know it is one thing, to embrace it and to receive its blessing is another. Thank you for the beautiful reminder!
Susie, I’m so honored to have your voice here. Thank you for this beautiful comment, I’m so appreciative.
Shelly, I presumed you would watch this, if not even make a pilgrimage to Windsor (one of my favorite cities in England, and where we visited again in 2013), and yet . . . I wasn’t sure. I was going to voicemail you about it, and ran out of time (I’ll do that soon). I know some Americans think that royalty is a lot of hype (my own niece, a grown woman, didn’t even know there was going to be a royal wedding!!), and some Brits want to abolish the monarchy; but I was ready to ask our conductor to cancel the dress rehearsal for our Bach concert, which coincided with Megan’s and Prince Harry’s nuptial vows! (Not really, but it was tempting :-)). I had to rise early here anyway to vocalize for my morning rehearsal, but over tea and special scones laced with raisins that Michael concocted for the occasion, I sneaked a peak of pageantry on the television. I was swept up in the beauty, romance, and tradition, and a few new twists on tradition as well. I only got a quick glimpse. But I’ve recorded all of it (thank goodness for technology, because missing a dress rehearsal is strictly verboten), and I shall take my time, again over tea and scones or perhaps high tea, like the one sweet Sheridan created for my Mother’s Day celebration, and savor the lavish beauty and unlikely fairytale romance of it all. I think there is a princess inside each woman, no matter her age or stage in life. But what I love about what you share here is the analogy to our King of Kings, and His pursuit of unlikely (and sinful) subjects, and how He treasures us intimately and irrevocably, and how He redeems us. I do remember those early days of my relationship with my King, and how I’d look for the “King’s kisses,” those specific words or signs that would emerge from holy writ, heavenly encounters, and hopeful symbols all around me, through which He spoke to me. God took the effort to speak my love language, and He wooed me. The thing is, He never stops, and I sense Him wooing yet again. . . .in fact, through this very post! Shelly, thank you for curating the beauty of the King and for being the beautiful princess (author, speaker, and friend) that you are.
Sending my love always,
Oops. I’d meant Meghan (or Duchess of Sussex to me!) 🙂
Smiling Lynn. I’m so glad God spoke to you through this post. Your comment is a gift, thank you.
HOPE never disappoints! #hopechangeseverything The very theme and heartbeat of my life! Great post. I still don’t know what Eurovision is!!!
Ha! Glad I’m not the only one Susan. I’m glad this resonated with you.
‘Love the hart-stirring comparisons you’ve drawn between Prince Harry and his unlikely bride and Jesus claiming US for His bride–in beauty and pageantry, with authority and majesty. Wow. Such a beautiful picture you paint with your words, Shelly. Praise God for our perfect Bridegroom of goodness, truth, and love!
Yes to goodness, truth and love! Thanks for being here Nancy.
Thank you for these beautiful thoughts, Shelly! I’m so grateful for your gracious presence on social media. Your photos often bring a smile to my lips when they show up in my feed and your insights are thoughts to be savored. You’re such a blessing!
Lauren, I’m truly honored by your gracious comment. Thankful, thankful.
So funny I’d read your words about deleting the beginning of your IG … celebrating 10 years of blogging I’d went back to my very first offerings – when I didn’t even know how to put a picture into my blogpost – I was going to redo them, then thought, “No, this is a record of where I came from.” Very similar experience …
I like your insight about why royalty catches our attention. I agree, there is a princess inside each woman. Only when we get to our eternal home will we really see how we have grown into that. For now, it is awesome to catch glimpses!
I’ve had that same experience with blogging too Jerralea. Those first stories cause my cheeks to get hot but I’ve left them for the same reasons I communicate in this post. And I love your perspective on the Royal Wedding as well. So true!