behind a picture

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Do you ever have those days where you just pick up your phone and scroll for hours through social media? You see your friends getting engaged/married/about to have kids; you see new cars/new jobs/ new careers, and you see photos upon photos of how blessed someone’s life is. Then there’s Pinterest, and well… Pinterest is a whole new world. And then you click a button, your screen goes black, and you’re back to your own reality.

Every day we see images upon images of different lives, diverse styles, and unique gifts displayed; it’s become a part of our culture to check up on someone through their Instafeed or to send encouragement to someone via Facebook. And then, sometimes even the rest of the world can see what we’re up to the same way. And man there is so much goodness that comes along with social media — you get to maintain friendships with people all around the world, you can see what amazing things each of them are doing, and well, you can check and see if someone is single or in a relationship most of the time. (That was supposed to be funny, because I know we ALL have done it.) But there’s also great danger to letting social media become your life.

I’m going to show you three different photos, and I want you to remember what the first thing is that comes to your mind.

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Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Now lets compare what you thought of to their backstory.

Photo 1. What you see: Beautiful mountains, a tattoo of 3 birds, and too die for blue waters. What I know: Point one. Those mountains have massive glaciers on it -> those massive glaciers melt -> I was SWIMMING in GLACIER waters and I couldn’t BREATHE. Point two. I waited for four years to finally go through with getting the tattoo of 3 birds – they are based off the scripture of Matthew 10:31, not inspired by Divergent. I know, shocker.

Photo 2. What you see: Me jumping off a board towards a stunningly teal river. What I know: I had been waiting to bungee jump for over SIX whole years,à this is the first bridge bungee jumping originated from in New Zealand. // The morning of, Caitlin, my roommate, convinced me to get dunked, or fully submerged in the water, when I bungee jumped. So moments later, I was completely soaked.

Photo 3. What you see: A multitude of free, sweet seagulls soaring above my head. What I know: Those seagulls were having a heart attack that I climbed the rock because it was near their nests with cute, hungry little baby screeching seagulls. They didn’t attack, but… they came pretty close. // Prior to climbing this rock, I accidentally scared two massive seals that went running, well… fast seal waddling, towards the water making roars, in seal language, completely in terror of this unexpected human. Although it’s pretty hilarious looking back on it now.

All to say, you wouldn’t have known half of the story if you just saw the photo. And yet we make up stories everyday when we see other people’s lives as Disney fairytales. I wonder why it is that when we see a photo, we feel like we know a person or even know their life. Cue every day social media thoughts: {awh, look at him living his dream, he must be so happy} {oh that person has fell off the deep end} {her life is perfect — perfect husband, perfect child, perfect job.. just perfect perfect perfect!}  We do it with strangers often, but we can do it with our best friends even more. Last week, I was able to talk to a few of my best friends who have picture perfect lives, and you know what I found out? They were ALL struggling with trusting God with their dreams. You don’t show that on social media very often, do you? Another friend lost her job, and on the outside a lot of people did judge her, but when asking her the story, I found out… she was so innocent in the situation. Even if she did mess up, I would’ve still loved her instead of how some people reacted. (not judging the judgers, but you know, mama’s heart over here.) We see everyone’s highlights and assume they’re doing good, or hear their lowlights and say a quick prayer, then move on to focus back on what isn’t going right in our lives. When we do this, we fill in make believe stories into our loved ones lives, and then compare our lives to a fairytale we created of someone else’s story – all based on photos and highlighted statuses.

The thing is that they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what they don’t tell you is that sometimes those words are fictional thoughts and not facts. We fill in the gaps so easily with our longings rather than taking the time to discover the reality of the situation, and that’s where we get trapped.

When the serpent was talking to Eve about being like God, she saw an image of an apple and filled in the gaps with the details of her longings. Therefore, she created a fantasy of a false reality. The apple was pleasing to the eye – it looked good and had tempting promises, but she was {allured} away from the truth that she already was made in the image of God. The 1,000 words that she filled in by her sight was not the truth of the reality. The problem with living for what’s pleasing to the eye is that often it is not the heart’s reality. And if all of this is behind just a picture, imagine what could be behind a person. There’s more to the story than what you know, and there’s so much more than the picture perfect life you’ve been waiting for.

When we look at a photo, we can be comforted by a false reality of someone else’s life easily. Sometimes we compare our realities to their lives, and other times we dismiss our need to reach out of our lives to see how their realities are. The thing is, we just need to stop filling in the gaps with make believe details and start taking time to see truth in each of our realities.

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If I’m preaching to anyone, it’d be to myself first, because I am a perfectionist 24/7 and slightly wish I could turn it off sometimes. But the less we strive for perfection, the more room we create for freedom in His grace. And I believe this is the same way we are to see, to really see, people and even life. Not through a lens of perfection, but through a lens of His love towards us. Behind the photo, truth awaits, longings aspire, and inspirations grow. Behind a person, dreams whisper, passions ignite, and hopes stir. But as long as we keep filling in the gaps with make believe nonsense, we will get nowhere. We will get nowhere if only loving someone for who we wish they would be. We will get nowhere if only waiting for the picture perfect life to come with no cost. We will get nowhere if we only fill in the gaps of our lives with our fantasies and not with Jesus. I am convinced that we will only get somewhere when we begin to believe that God loves us all and His love believes in us more than we can imagine. When you realize God believes in you, it’s impossible not to chase dreams and believe in others along the way.

I am the byproduct of belief. I wouldn’t be where I am if others didn’t believe in me, because for a long time I didn’t have belief in myself. So I am passionate about believing in others because you never know how far they could go.

Sometimes we just need others to believe the truth God has spoken over us because we’ve been allured to a place based off of sight and not faith and have lost belief in ourselves along the way.

Because usually what is placed within our heart is something we need God for, and that is not the most pleasing thing for our human nature to hear. And if it is within arm’s reach, be cautious to who’s voice is speaking. [God] places dreams in our hearts as [He] also places them in our hands, and that’s a grace thing that’s hard for us to conceive. But when we realize what we have been longing for has a foundation of truth in our here and now, I believe we will stop falling for the temptation of a “perfect wedding” off of Pinterest, or the “perfect life” we see on Facebook, or an apple that will grant our heart’s deepest desire. I don’t need an apple to convince me that my promise is true. God is the Rock Eternal, and He is a sure foundation on which my deepest longings are already being built upon.

So here’s what I want you to do today, tomorrow, and every day after:

  1. Believe in someone you’ve never believed in. You never know how far they could go.
  2. Take notice of the deep longings in your heart – there’s no use in ignoring them. Trust your longings with Jesus – He will not fail you. And stop falling for the enemy’s alluring of a picture perfect life. Striving doesn’t know grace because grace cannot be earned. Striving works while grace receives.
  3. What you see isn’t always what you know, so when you see a friend who’s life looks altogether, reach out to them and see how they really are. What you see in a photo isn’t everything it seems to be, hopefully you’ve figured that out by now.
  4. Let His grace fill in the gaps of your life, it is sufficient in every way. [Read 2 Corinthians 12:9]

Dear friend,

Behind a photo and a person there is so much more to say. Believe a little bigger, believe in them a little more, and believe in yourself always.


A girl who believes in you SO much — Kaytee


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