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