Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three Photo Albums

As moms we are constantly taking pictures of ourselves and we choose to categorize these images in one of three albums.

In photo album #1 we find snapshots of a woman who is always comparing herself to others--her body, her habits, the financial status of her family, and her skills. She has the overwhelming feeling that she has nothing to offer the world. She is constantly striving to be something or someone she was not meant to be. She feels like she is not capable of doing enough as a mom or friend, and she always worries about what others are thinking of her.

Beneath the cover of photo album #2 we find a smiling woman. But if you look closely, it's not her smile, but one she cut out and pasted to her face (kind of like those hips on magazine covers). She is focused on other people, sort of. With her plastered smile she "listens" to her friend while organizing the rest of the day in her head. She musters her energy to prepare an extra-special meal for her husband, but is frustrated by the end of it because the cake didn't rise. She offers to help with the nursery, only to find herself wishing she hadn't. She goes to bed exhausted from the day, dreading the start of tomorrow. She is tired-out and burned-out. She wonders how she can keep up this pace.

Then last, inside photo album #3, we find another woman. She is the one the first woman longs to be like and the one the second lady works hard to match. She has a listening ear for a friend even when it means the plan for her day will change. She looks at other women with God's loving camera, being more concerned about how someone feels than how they dress. Because she is depending on God's strength, she is able to instruct and train rather than yell at her child. She spends time with God not out of duty but because she loves Him. She climbs into bed at night and thanks God for His goodness.

Does the lady in photo album #3 sound a little too perfect? Don't worry, she's not. It's just that by spending time with God she has learned to be more and more like Him. Her eyes have been focused on the Lord, and He has kept His promise: "Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" (Psalm 34:5). It isn't something that happened to her overnight.

Actually, she has three photo albums just like you and me. She has been through those same stages. On occasion she still adds photos to those first two albums--comparing, then doing all she can to measure up. But gradually she began walking more in step with the Lord, dealing with spills and schedules more calmly, thinking the best of her family and friends. And as she did, her third photo album began to grow. Because of her focus on the Lord she is able to love God; therefore, she is able to love her neighbors (friends, co-workers, husband, children); and now she is even able to love herself. Wow--three for one! We're moms, and we know a good deal when we see one!

When we choose to see ourselves and others from God's viewpoint there will be joy, regardless of our circumstances. When He is the focus, it takes the pressure off of us.
"Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you" (Romans 12:2 The Message).

So there are three focal points to choose from. The choice seems obvious, but there are days I still find myself in album #1, comparing myself to every woman I meet (usually this happens at one particular time of the month). More frequently I find myself putting photos in album #2, thinking I can handle everything on my own. But more and more I am opening album #3 as I learn to depend on Jesus, to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. It's great when I choose to zoom in on the love of the Lord and let Him fill me up so that I can share His love with those who mean so much to me.

Father, You know our tendency as women to be unhappy with who we are. Nudge me, Lord, when even a hint of comparison begins to come my way so that I can refocus my attention on You. Help me make time to get to know You. Show me how You created me uniquely to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want to handle things like You would a little more every day. I pray You'll encourage me by letting me see changes that You have made in my Life. Thank You, Lord, for Your forgiveness and for always being there to help me refocus. Bless others through me. I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.

(from Sharon and Laurie's book Mom...And Loving It!)

Here is where we can encourage one another in this matter. How do you refocus? What are some Scriptures that help you refocus?


  1. "We're not...putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they're our superiors. We wouldn't dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point....What you say about yourself means nothing in God's work. It's what God says about you that makes the difference."
    2 Corinthians 10:12, 17 The Message

  2. "Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."
    Philippians 4:13 The Message

  3. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light."
    1 Peter 2:9 NIV