If the old adage is true, and a picture is truly worth a thousand words, I wonder what percentage of those words involve swearing? Getting pictures taken is one of those necessary evils that we face from time to time. Whether the pictures are formal, informal, professionally produced or shot on someone’s phone, we often find ourselves less than thrilled when it comes to being photographed.
Why is this so? Being photographed isn’t difficult, painful, or physically demanding. You see the stress of pictures doesn’t come while they’re being taken (unless you’re working with young children). It comes after the pictures are done and we look at the images produced. We brace ourselves before looking at the photos, hoping for the best yet fearing the worst. Once we do see the image staring back at us, we begin to cringe: my smile looked forced, my eyes turned red, my hair was out of place, my tie was crooked, I wasn’t looking at the camera, I blinked, I look heavy, my gray hairs really stand out, and on and on and on.
It’s a pretty exhaustive list of a rather exhausting topic. But after listing the excuses, I was struck with an interesting thought. All of the pronouns in these common criticisms are first person. We complain most readily and most vehemently about pictures when we are the subject. This doesn’t happen when the picture is of other people. Pictures of loved ones are beautiful. Images of our children are treasured, because we love them. We love pictures of spouses or significant others because we of the love we have for them. Pictures of those friends and family members who have passed away give us memories filled yet again with the love that we continue to hold for them. When we see ourselves, we see flaws, but when we see others, we see love.
Compare what we see in pictures of ourselves to what God sees. We find faults and blemishes readily – they stand out. This is because we are dissatisfied with who we are, with how we look, and are fearful of what others might see. So what does God see when He looks at us? Thankfully, He sees us not in the way we see ourselves, but in a way more similar to how we see others. He treasures us. He desires us. He loves us – so much so that He sent Christ into the world to set us free from the sin that works to destroy us. Sin separated God from His most prized possession, but it was Christ who made it possible for us to once again stand before the Lord. So what He sees now is more precious, more beautiful, more wonderful than ever before. In His eyes, by His grace and mercy, we are saved, healed, and transformed from what was once ugly and undesirable to something treasured, something beautiful. That is what He sees.
If only we could see ourselves with different eyes so that we might change the way we see ourselves. Then we wouldn’t make excuses to cover up for the blemishes we see. Then we wouldn’t run from the camera, but would proudly stand so that all might see what He has done to make you beautiful.
And in Him, you are!