The photographer held her camera with confidence and creativity, clicking pictures of the children from every angle. The children, who at first were uncomfortable and hesitant, soon began to giggle and glow as their comfort level increased and they felt free to be themselves. It was an amazing transformation that I witnessed, and it was a gift.
I smiled, watching the whole event, taking in every moment. The children were dressed in long sleeved white shirts, jeans and wore (why do we say it this way?) bare feet. They were naturally beautiful. Now, I suppose like any mother, I’m terribly biased about how beautiful my children are but what I saw yesterday was deeper than that – it was an outward expression of their inner uniqueness, and that was beauty.
I was a bit unsure of how a photo session with five children would go. Needless to say, it was enough for me to decide what to have all five of them wear, appropriate for their ages and stages. We had not had the children’s pictures taken in years (I wish I was a mother who was more diligent about it, but I’m not) and so when the opportunity arose for them to be photographed by a professional, I thought I had best seize it and just weather the chaos.
But there was not chaos -- it’s true! There was joy, and lots of it! Each child, once they became comfortable with the photographer (a complete stranger at first) began to engage with her and react to her. The photographer was effervescent and delightful, popping her head in and out from behind her camera, relating to them, sharing stories with them and encouraging them with words like, “beautiful – fabulous – incredible – wonderful!” She praised them for their naturalness and for their joy. She laughed at their funny little mannerisms and encouraged them when they were playful and endearing with one another. Gradually, the children became more and more open and by the end of the session (1 ½ hours later) the children were begging her to take more pictures of them while they acted silly, sweet or sassy. The girls performed hand stands, wrapped themselves around each other in all sorts of configurations and modeled “attitude” poses with my reading glasses. The boys lounged on couches and against the wall looking cool, and even my 15 year old son (who has CP) propped himself up against the brick wall and flexed his much defined muscles in an atlas sort of pose.
I received so much joy watching each one of them express who they are and enjoy themselves.
I think that is how God feels sometimes with us. Psalm 139:14 says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I have been pondering that in light of the experience I had yesterday. If God in His great love takes the time to make each one of us unique, why do we spend so much time not appreciating our uniqueness?
I think that somewhere along the path to adulthood, some of us, sometimes, lose the ability to be comfortable with the unique being that God created us to be. We become stained and tainted by the world, and we shut our unique selves in to little boxes and fear that if we ever come out we will either be made fun of or criticized for being prideful. Our ability to be ourselves falters as our life experiences battle against who God created us to be.
Oh, we are not perfect, but we are unique. In some ways, it is about honoring our dignity and honoring God in appreciating how He made each one of us. We hesitate to be ourselves because we do not feel safe and secure; we fear. We feel judged, less than, ugly, inadequate, a failure, and we may end up even trying to be someone we are not. What a tragedy. We are our worst enemy and I think that the evil one rejoices (if that is possible of one so dark and demented) when we refuse to be who we are created to be with the gifts that God has given us.
When we appreciate ourselves in the Light of who God is, it is beautiful. It is as if He is the photographer, desiring to have us be who we are and we just stand there --- scared and insecure, rather than free and engaged with Him. But like the children, who opened up and were more comfortable the more they got to know the photographer, so can we begin to be more comfortable with who God created us to be and experience more freedom and joy in being ourselves, by spending more time with Him and allowing Him to work in our lives.
Dear reader, you were fearfully and wonderfully made and still are. God has created you with special gifts and a unique personality that only you have. And in it, He has a purpose for you to bring beauty to a hurting world and to reflect a dimension of Himself that only you can. Ask the Lord to show you who you are, if you are not sure, and be the best you that you can be for Him.