We’ve all seen the Olan Mills family portraits where everybody is sitting up straight with big smiles on their faces. Everyone in the family looks picture perfect even though the clothes and hairstyles may be out of date. To the casual observer, this looks like the perfect American family. What people may not know is the real life story behind each person in the picture.
What about the father who is no longer attracted to his wife? His slight smile conceals that he has had an affair. His wife has no idea. All she knows is that she has grown emotionally distant from the man she once trusted with all her secrets.
What about the middle child who feels more awkward and out of place than ever? She not so secretly loathes her younger brother who is the center of attention. It was all the parents could do to get five minutes peace to take the picture.
What about the oldest son who is taking drugs to look buff? He’s a star athelete, but his success has come at a price. He has several teenager girls who clamor for his attention. He’s sexually active and his parents don’t know although they suspect something is up.
How about the oldest daughter who is wearing long sleeves to cover the marks on her arms? She has cut herself because she wants to feel something. She has felt emotionally abandoned by her parents. She was physically and verbally abused by a family friend. She feels guilty and doesn’t know how to tell her parents.
What about Snoopy the dog? He looks healthy. But he has the early stage of heart worms. Ok, I don’t need to be melodramatic. You get the point.
Pictures look perfect. But the reality behind them never is. We all have hurt and pain. No family is without its issues. And some have more than others. The Good News is that although life can hurt us. God can heal us. We have to choose to let Him work in our lives. And the best way to start is with prayer.
My challenge is for you to pull out a few family photos and to pray for the people in them. Pull out a time that you remember something good that happened. Ask God to renew the joy of those moments by restoring anything that may have tarnished the family album.
Pray for everyone by name. Ask God to help you forgive anything you may harbor in your heart toward them. Pray a blessing on each person.
Also, pull out a photo that shows you looking your worst. Thank God for loving you even though you had no sense of style. Be especially grateful if you still don’t have a sense of style. Take a moment to write down everything good you have experienced in your life. Give thanks to God for those because the Bible says that all good gifts come from God. If you can’t think of anything, you aren’t being honest. Think of the prettiest day, the best food or your favorite song. None of these would be possible without God.
Hopefully, this little exercise will help you heal as well as see that God allows both good and bad to come. Although God never causes sin, he gives man free will. That’s enough to lead to lots of pain and chaos due to people’s bad decisions.
Both good and bad experiences shape who we are. God uses these to help us find Him – the source of eternal life. Sometimes we would never go looking for God’s best without deep challenges.
It may seem mean-spirited for God to allow bad things to happen. But it simply shows how much faith he has in us. We couldn’t be free to be ourselves without this reality.
May you experience God’s peace and restoration in your life this week!!!
Note: This goes without saying, but I will say it any way. If you have been abused, please tell someone who can help. If you are struggling with a serious, especially suicide or some other physically dangerous problem, please get help. Even if you are dealing with typical issues such as depression, loneliness, failure, etc., don’t be affraid to get help too because healing starts with a choice.