This is probably best shared if I start out telling you a little bit about myself. You see, because this fact sets the stage for what you’re about to read. Or… if you give up a quarter of the way through, it gives you something to go, “Ah, so that’s why she’s so messed up.” 🙂 But seriously…
Fact: I don’t deal well with feedback. Particularly, with criticism.
I know this. I’m working on this. And that, my 2 readers, is the hardest thing. Admitting your faults. Owning that you are not a perfect human. But that right there is the beauty in what I want to say with this post. I could actually probably summarize it that simply. We are not perfect. No one is perfect. And nothing, apart from God, is perfect. But instead I am sure to digress into many paragraphs of emotional vomit. Why? Because what I want to say is so vitally important and so LOST in our culture right now.
You see, it starts with this photograph:
It’s a simple photograph, really. A dandelion. A springtime muse of mine. There isn’t much to see and a lot to see all at once, which is the beauty of nature. It’s simplicity and complexity. I took this photograph, at Christmas, while spending a wonderful holiday weekend with family. It was a great weekend and this photo reminds me of that time, the beauty of our seasons, and of my dad (but that’s another story for another day).
One of my favorite things about nature is that it’s beautifully imperfect, yet perfect by design at the same time. God does not make mistakes. Like this dandelion for example. This fluffy ball of stuff is just a cluster of seeds that will eventually dry in the spring sun, break down, catch a slight breeze and because of that perfectly designed propeller at the top of each little stem, float whimsically through the air until each seed finds a place to rest, roots into the ground and becomes another plant. But that’s not where my passion comes from with this writing (though I could go on and on).
I recently joined a photography group/club locally, to fill a serious need for some extracurricular fun and to inspire and motivate me in my passion for photography. It was a stretch for me. Doing something completely alone and then opening myself up enough to a new peer group and eventually to the critique of my photography work was not easy for me. I was determined to make it great. The first assignment I got was called “Green”. I submitted the above photo. Honestly, I was pretty proud of this photo. I thought I would fare pretty well during the critique, knowing that even though I’m not a professional photographer, I have my fair share of talent and experience behind a lens.
I was wrong.
Because, according to the group, there is something that pretty much ruined the entire photograph. Great composition. Great color. But…
Do you see it?
Come on, look really close. Maybe you saw it the first time?
Yup. That little yellow flower. Distracting? Ok, maybe. Does it ruin the photo? I really hope not. And not for artistic reasons. For something much deeper. I saw the little yellow flower while editing the photo. I debated whether or not to remove it. But I decided to leave it in. I didn’t think it was earth shattering. The professionals did. “Such an easy thing to clone out! Why wouldn’t they do it?” is what they said. “So distracting.” “Really takes away from the composition.” And more. But I didn’t hear those words. By then I was shut down. But not because of the critique, as ego-shattering as that was.
One person came to my rescue. She stated what I felt in my heart. Journalistic photography is not perfect. Some things you shouldn’t just crop out or clone out. It doesn’t tell the true story. But… “yeah, they probably should have taken it out.”
* sigh *
So, pride aside, why am I so upset?
I can summarize it this way. We are not perfect! Simple words, but they carry so much depth. Because, in this world, in this culture, we try and perfect everything, at any cost. Nothing is good enough. Not even nature! So, we airbrush. We edit. We cover up. We clone. We cut, stitch and abuse our bodies to fit an impossible mold of perfection. Not to pull the gender card here, but women have it so much worse. Open any fashion magazine and you will rarely see someone that is completely 100% real. Everything is an altered state. An idealized version of reality. But that’s the problem. IT’S NOT REAL. The world is a mess. Our culture is a mess. The messages we pump over our airwaves and print in our media are complete lies. This is not how it was supposed to be. But we don’t see it that way. We strive for the impossible and beat each other and ourselves up over it. But it’s so simple.
We are not perfect.
I am not perfect.
I’ve finally been making progress in my life to not only realizing this fact, but embracing and loving it. Because I’m a child of God. And God doesn’t make mistakes. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And so are you!
I have stretch marks and scars (and I haven’t even endured pregnancy and childbirth)! I always feel just a little bit fat. My teeth are slightly crooked. I’m pale. I have blemishes, puffy circles under my eyes and huge pores and soon… wrinkles. My house is always dusty. I’m as klutzy as can be. I eat way too fast and always get a stomach ache. I don’t exercise enough. I don’t deal with conflict when I should. Oh, I could really go on…
But these things are real and I’ve beat myself up about them for far too long. Even if I mastered and changed all of these things, it wouldn’t make me a better person. Because God made me and he loves all these things about me. Because these things make me need Him more. And that’s all he wants of me.
I’m not perfect.
But that’s okay by me.
And so are little yellow flowers.