Archives For joy

What You Don’t See

Erik Cooper —  November 30, 2010 — 1 Comment

We just received our stunning new family pictures. Not the Olan Mills tilt your head slightly to the left arms folded on the 70’s shag carpet with a fake forest on a vinyl pull-down studio photos.

Real pictures.

From our great friend and aspiring professional photographer Lois Solet.  We were absolutely blown away by what she captured.  The essence of our family completely visible in the millisecond click of a camera shutter.

Images courtesy of Lois Solet

As I scrolled through nearly 180 edited shots, I was overwhelmed by the sense of love. The joy. The potential. The life.

But then I had a momentary reality check. Like a 30 Rock Liz Lemon flashback, I remembered the totality of that two hour photoshoot in October.  I remembered what you don’t see.

My daughters arguing like Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Palin.  Me ignoring my wife’s staging request so I could update my Twitter status.  My five year old adamantly boycotting further poses like his Derek Zoolander modeling union concessions hadn’t been met. (Notice I didn’t throw my wife under the bus. She’s perfect).

All those imperfections edited out or never even captured at all. Or were they?

They more I looked, the more I realized…

These pictures aren’t beautiful because we successfully staged out all the flaws.  They’re beautiful because we’re willing (OK, at least some of the time) to admit we are flawed. Deeply flawed.

But how often do I fight the self-righteous temptation to manufacture an image that seems better than the truth? When all along, Jesus is waiting to do for us what we can never do for ourselves: Make us truly beautiful.

“God can’t stand pious poses, but he delights in genuine prayers.
-Proverbs 15:8

God, may the image of who we appear to be always reflect the true beauty of who You are in us.

PS: Thanks for the fabulous pictures and unending editing Lois. You’re a friend like very few others.

Before yesterday’s epic battle between good and evil (otherwise known as the annual Colts vs. Patriots Armageddon), I jokingly tweeted my dreadful outlook on the injury-ravaged Colts chances for victory, noting:

“Pessimism only has an upside.”

If I’m truly honest, I was only half joking. I am a pessimist. I’ve always struggled with a bit of a glass half empty mentality.  Anticipating the worst.  Assuming every phone call is news of impending catastrophe.

In a strange way, I’ve always seen a distorted upside to this approach.  Hey, if you assume the worst, you can only be pleasantly surprised, right? Absorb the blow (of that Manning interception with all 3 timeouts while already in field goal range to tie the game) in your mind ahead of time and you can avoid the full brunt of the pain if and when it comes.  It’s like preventative medicine.

The only problem? You’re always living like you’re a little bit sick.

Assuming the worst may help dull the pain of potential disappointment, but it also deadens the ability to fully experience joy.  To truly be alive.  And with that, pessimism has no real upside.

(By the way, evil may have triumphed yesterday 31-28. But it won’t win forever.)