Portraits not Polaroids
Do you remember Polaroids?
Polaroid cameras arrived on the scene in the 1970s, and quickly grew in popularity.
Part of Polaroid’s popularity stemmed from its ability to offer a quick and semi-instant snapshot of a particular life moment. A birthday party, a vacation, or friends hanging out with friends. Moments caught on film and developed within minutes.
What I’d like to focus on here is that a Polaroid captures a moment in time. When you look at an old photo, you’re viewing one single second - on a much larger time frame. One second.
I get to serve as the Pastor of Family Ministries at Mosaic Church, and over the past two years, something I’ve seen and heard expressed by parents is that parents will often view their family as a Polaroid picture. And this makes them sad, stressed, or depressed.
Polaroid picture? Depressed and stressed? What are you talking about?
Hang with me here!
You see, many parents have a deep desire to have a perfect family - or something close to perfect. Expectations exist, and unfortunately life doesn’t match up with these expectations.
A wife or mom may look at her husband or children and see disfunction, and then experience sadness or despair because she thinks it will never change. A husband or father may look at his unruly kids and wonder where he went wrong, feeling like a failure.
You might think back to your childhood with nostalgia, and yearn for a family life similar to your youth. But your current family life is nothing close to the good old days. Or maybe you determined at a young age that you would raise your kids in a much healthier home than you had growing up. And it’s not happening.
Often times parents will take mental inventory of their family - now - viewing their family through the lens of a camera - as a Polaroid photo and think, “This is who we are, and who we will always be: Dysfunctional. Sad. Hopeless.” And the weight of the messiness is almost too much to bear.
Maybe, though, you look at your family situation and feel sadness. You view your family as a photo. As if this photo represents everything your family is, and everything it will ever be. If that’s you, you’re not alone! I want you to know, there’s hope!
Because in reality, our families are not Polaroid pictures. Our families are portraits!
You see, painters (especially in the olden days) could take a few years to complete a family portrait. A portrait was a continual work in progress.
And that’s how God sees our families. As portraits. As works in progress. What’s even better is that God sees the beautiful end product, even when we can’t!
And He’s excited for you!
You see, a snapshot of us in a moment of disfunction isn’t God’s view of us. He sees where we are, and where He’s bringing us!
He doesn’t see hopelessness (the temporary snapshot). He sees a beautiful painting (eternal portrait).
What’s even better? God is the painter! He’s the artist. He’s painting, and crafting, and molding your family into something beautiful.
Isaiah 64:8 says:
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
So, next time you find yourself sad or discouraged because your family isn’t perfect, just remember: Your family is a work of art in progress. Not a Polaroid picture.
by Pastor Nate Erickson
How to be a PeaceMAKER
In our last sermon series, "Bless this Home", Pastor Erik talked about PeaceMAKERS versus PeaceKEEPERS. As I sat listening to the service, I almost laughed out loud as I recalled a story of when I was newly married:
Kim and I got married pretty young; we were barely 23 years young, and looking back I can’t imagine how we survived those first few years.
One night we had been arguing over a few things and as the evening progressed our patience ran thin with one another and we ultimately decided it was just time to go to bed. As we laid in bed that night, we both silently wondered if we had made a terrible mistake in getting married. The room was completely dark and as I lay there wondering what to do, I heard Kim start to cry. Usually, hearing her cry invokes compassion and a tender heart, but this night my blood was boiling. I was so upset that every quiet tear from her caused me to get more and more upset.
After what felt like hours, but was likely just a minute or two, I just couldn’t take it anymore and I yelled “STOP CRYING!”
Of course, Kim’s response was what anyone in that situation would likely do, she starting crying uncontrollably. It was like a scene from a movie – a clueless man, with a brilliant idea to solve the problem buthis actions only make it worse. In that moment, I was being anything but a peacemaker or peacekeeper.
Recently, I heard a podcast, “How to come home from work and not fight with your spouse” from Dr. C.K. Bray, a cognitive behavioral researcher, speaker, and author. Dr. Bray offered the timeless wisdom of allowing oneself time to let the events of the past fall by the wayside. Maybe take an extra drive around the block, or better yet, walk around the block and let the fresh air clear your mind if you're overwhelmed from your day.
For me, letting time pass before responding is the hardest part when trying to not let my emotions get the best of me. In hind sight, I should have left the bedroom that night and went into another room and prayed a little; maybe opened my Bible and just let God speak to me. I know those answers may seem basic or even “churchy”, but over the years I’ve found them to be the most effective.
How could I have been a peacemaker in that infamous moment mentioned above? A win would have been to get up, walk to the other side of the bed, give Kim a kiss, tell her I loved her, but that I needed some time to myself. It’s amazing what 15 years of life and marriage can teach a person. Often when I start to get frustrated or upset at Kim (and let’s be honest, it happens from time to time with anyone you live with) I remember back to that night. I remember hearing her cry and me getting upset and I make a choice to step aside, cool down, and remember what she means to me. I pick up my Bible, turn on some worship music or pray, and let God change my heart.
If you are struggling in your marriage and you feel like it’s hopeless, I am here to tell you it’s not. There is always hope when Christ in involved. Maybe you need some counseling to work through the hard stuff – that’s okay! Don’t feel shame or embarrassment for that. We all need help working on our relationships! What’s important is that you get the help you need.
That night is now more like a punch line between us, but in that moment I felt like my marriage was over and my life would end. I’m continually working on becoming a better peacemaker in my home. It is an intentional process that I must go through, it doesn’t just happen! Not for any of us.