Faithfully thinking: Don’t base your value on the fake world of photography

Photography today is creating what isn’t real. It’s manipulation of you, the viewer. That beautiful scene with that family in an open field with amazing sun?

Nine times out of ten that’s not real. It was edited in Photoshop.

The power lines were painted out, the sun flare was added with an overlay and that kid who photo bombed the whole thing was quickly and quietly dispatched with the gesture of the mouse and click of a few keyboard commands like the photographer mafia.

That little girl sitting on a box, in a perfect white room, no clutter, no mess, no toys scattered around her, enjoying the wind of the fan blowing in her face?

Also fake.

The toys were pushed to one side, or brushed away via editing software.

Fake.

Fake.

Fake.

And more fake.

Much of what you see in the photography world is fake.

It is airbrushed.

It is whitewashed.

It is cloned out and over.

It’s made to look pretty because people like pretty.

 

People like fake.

People like fake so they don’t have to face reality.

The problem is that even when a person knows it’s fake they tell themselves it’s real.

They compare and contrast their life with the fake.

Their house isn’t that clean.

Their kids aren’t that well dressed.

Their walls aren’t that white.

Their sink isn’t that clean.

The pictures in their frames aren’t that professional.

Their life isn’t that perfect.

Newsflash: no one else’s is either.

They just don’t want you to know.

I found myself awake too early after a long night helping my oldest with a stuffy nose and watering eyes, caught up in the popularity game of social media. Because that’s what it is – a game. An attempt to fit in with the popular kids, to be in the “in crowd”.

I was playing the game hard.

And I was losing. Hard.

I didn’t have as many likes, as many followers, as many comments.

Maybe I was posting at the wrong time.

Maybe I needed to network more.

Maybe I needed to edit differently.

Maybe I needed to kiss some more virtual butt.

To me the lack of likes and comments was equating to not being good enough, not being talented enough, not being important enough, just not being enough.

Because I don’t feel good enough as a mom and a home keeper (seriously, God, are you sure this is where you want me? I am horrible at keeping a house clean!)

I have found myself second guessing all my photography, my edits, thinking constantly abit how others edit and that If I don’t shoot or edit the way they do then I won’t fit in, I won’t sell with stock photography, I won’t measure up.

I really wish more people would stop trying to make themselves look enough.

That I would stop trying to make myself look and feel enough.

God says I am enough but because I stare at a phone or computer screen too much I don’t hear him.

I can’t hear him over the shouts of “Keep up! Keep up!!” In my head.

The demands to make my house look like her house.

To dress my children the way she does.

To edit photos like he does.

To write like her.

Cook like her.

Look like her.

Pray like her.

Trust God like them.

Hear God speaking to me daily like him.

Know God’s purpose for my life like her.

To speak positivity and prosperity over my life and have it all change in two weeks like the lady on that podcast.

Over and over and over those thoughts spin in my head.

There is only one way to silence them: recognize you are NOT THEM.

God has a unique plan for each of us.

Each plan is unique because each person is unique.

Stop playing the game.

Stop comparing.

Stop trying to be what you see in the pictures.

And by you I mean “me too.”

 

See beyond the shine and know that there is dirt.

You can’t see the mother crying just outside the frame, worrying she dressed her children “wrong” and her photos won’t look as nice as her sister-in-law or cousins or friend’s photos.

You can’t see the dad feeling inadequate because he works 50 hours a week but is still deep in debt.

You can’t see the toddler who threw a tantrum; the teenager who feels less than and rejected; the grandparents who only see their grandchildren in photographs because their daughter has been angry at them for years for things they apologized for over and over.

But really?

You can see all of that.

You can see all of it.

Because when you look at that pretty photograph, know that in it are real people in a fake scene.

Real people who struggle, who hurt, who cry, who suffer, who want to be loved and who are loved by the same God who loves you

Faithfully Thinking: I refuse to call it my anxiety anymore

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the Lord.”

Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)

I say it at least three times a week.

“My anxiety is high today.”

“My anxiety has me stressed.”

“My anxiety is holding me back.”

“I hate my anxiety.”

Well today I have decided that I no longer want to claim anxiety as “mine.”

 

Claiming it means I own it and it owns me. Claiming it puts me in a self made prison.

Calling it mine means I expect it to be there. I expect to feel anxious. I expect to feel depressed. I expect to feel confused.

Overwhelmed.

Lost.

God did not give me anxiety.

Anxiety is not of God.

He did not hand it to me and ask me to be responsible for it. Then why should I call it “my anxiety.”

Yes I will struggle with anxiety.

Yes, it will be there when I don’t want it to be.

But it will no longer be mine.

It can be “the anxiety I face.”

Or “the anxiety I fight.”

But it will no longer be “my anxiety.”

It will no longer rule me, control me, put me in chains.

You, anxiety, and the author of anxiety no longer will have a hold on me.

You, anxiety, have no authority over me or my life.

You fall under the authority of someone much greater, someone who died on a cross to take away my infirmities.

You fall under my authority given to me by King Jesus when He died on the cross and bore all sin, all sickness, all anxiety.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12King James Version (KJV)

Through Christ I have authority over the rulers of the darkness of this world .

Anxiety, you are not mine.

Anxiety, you are not in control.

Anxiety, you will not consume me.

Anxiety, you belong with the one who resides in Hell and who will always reside in Hell.

You are not “my anxiety “.

You are his weapon of destruction but no weapon formed against me will prosper (Isaiah 54:17) and that includes the anxiety I no longer own.

 

Faithfully thinking: weeding out the bad so the good can survive

My son was recovering from an illness on the couch and watching a cartoon on his laptop, my daughter was watching a cartoon on my phone and I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when it all shut off out of the blue.

For ten seconds we sat there and looked at each other bewildered. What were we supposed to do now? With all our devices dark, except the phone which continued to work off data, we were completely lost.

Suddenly I felt excited. I felt a sense of freedom and dashed outside to my garden, over run with weeds thanks to weeks of neglect, and began yanking weeds out by the handful. I felt like a giddy child let loose in a candy store. The smell of dirt and grass andnature was setting my soul on fire.

In the midst of the euphoria I was also disgusted that it had taken the electricity going out to wake me up and break the chains of apathy and digital busyness that I had let hold me down.

Logged on to Facebook I seem to think I have to read one more post, see one more photo, laugh at one more pointless video and then before I know it it’s the afternoon and I’ve accomplished nothing. I haven’t finished the dishes, cut up and put the extra zucchini in the freezer, cleaned up my room, made the beds or weeded the garden.

And I certainly haven’t nourished my soul or connected with God.

Instead I’ve only fueled anxiety that I often call “my anxiety” claiming the state as my own, as if it’s an expected mindset for me to be in.

I’ve found that scrolling past story after story, some positive but many aimed at igniting our fear – fear of cancer, of death, of loss – is damaging my emotional health and in turn my physical health.

Many say “I just ignore those negative or fear based posts” but to me it seems the continuous exposure to these types of stories often permeates our thoughts and perpetuate our fears without us even realizing it. The negative affects of today’s social media are subtle and unassuming.

I’m not saying social media doesn’t have its good points or that it can’t be used to help encourage, connect, and support. Along with the good, however, comes even more counteractive and isolating aspects.

We have never been more connected than we are today, Facebook founder mark Zuckerburg likes to tell us again and again. In some ways this is true but in reality we’ve never been more disconnected or separated.

Satan is never happier than when we are isolated, made to feel alone, and spending our days on Facebook, pretending we are actually connecting with people. When we are on our computer or staring at our phone we are not living in the present or focused on those around us. Our minds are on a digital and virtual plane, trapped in a world of fantasy, antagonistic words, pessimistic views and sometimes fake optimistic ones.

I thought about this all as I yanked the weeds out of the garden so I could plant spinach seeds, seeds of a plant to bring our family nourishment.

I found it pretty pathetic that it took the electricity going out to motivate me to weed out the bad and plant the good. Yet it often takes a power failure in our life to wake us up to the good we have been missing out on.

Philippians 4:8 says: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Sometimes I need to pull the plug on the busyness of life so I can focus on the noble, the right, the pure, the lovely and the admirable.

If I don’t cut off the power sometimes, or let God flip the switch for me, then the negativity, fear, pessimism and anxious thoughts will grow in my life like the weeds in my garden. The weeds are choking out my healthy plants, stopping them from growing. I’m nowhere near a master gardener and I know I have a lot to learn if I want a bountiful harvest in the future.

There are days I feel the weeds of life all around me, trying to steal my joy, my hope, my fervor for life. I put my hands up to push them back, but without the help of the one who is our Master Gardener, I’ll never find victory.

I need Him to help me keep the weeds in check and to remind me they need to be pulled so I can breathe and grow.