Tomorrow I have signed up for a manual photography course. It was a present from my ever encouraging husband, doing his absolute best to keep doors open in my novice motherhood life for inspiration and growth. If I could I would go back to uni and finish my masters, If I had more courage I would step boldly into the new days before me and send my manuscripts to more publishers.
If I could.
The more I focus on my manual photography skills, the more refined my eye is becoming to imperfection. I am seeing things I would never have noticed before, but in someways I am not that keen on over filtering and editing the imperfection of this season away.
You see, I just snuck away from our lounge room, to take 15 quiet minutes to myself as my two littles watched their first television for the day. As I quietly snuck away, they were deep in conversation with Paddington Bear and spellbound by his quirky ways. Three short minutes later, they are both next to me, at my desk, fawning over my computer and my attention. We are just like toddlers somedays, we seek attention from anyone who is willing to acknowledge our efforts. Social Media is a cesspool of attention seeking behaviour and I am not free from its snares.
These days of novice motherhood are imperfectly perfect and I grapple often with the juxtaposition of its brilliance and the pain. I remember those long years of my single wait, as I begged God for little people to call my own. I knew the privilege of single life and being able to travel and I knew the freedom was a blessing, but the ache of the unknown baffled my heart. My single years were imperfectly painful. I asked God often whether he noticed me, saw me, was he listening to my grieving prayers.
Just as my baby girl sits and stares into this portrait, only seconds later she was pulling the covers off my bed and balancing my patience with her screams of delight. Life is a swing between the imperfect and our perception of perfection. We are but dust, with a life that is so fragile and also we are made perfect in God’s eyes, a work of art, an evolving progression.
We were born with purpose and potential, but have vulnerabilities and broken cracks.
And often the broken parts of us scream for someone to see and notice our pain. We often don’t realise that the hidden parts of our pain shout much louder than we even realise.
When we listen to someone praise and encourage our pursuits, there is always this awkward moment, should I be saying thank you? or should I be ducking and diving for cover.
There is something so awkward about encouragement and praise. We long for acknowledgment and to be noticed, but at the same time we know that humility and grace are mature reflections of a life sown.
If I tell someone with confidence about a project that I am embarking on, am I being prideful?
If I withdraw from a conversation because I don’t want to sound like I’m a know it all, is this humility?
How do we sit comfortably in the awkwardness of being told that we are doing a great job but reflect the overall design and purpose to one who created our inmost being?
How do we decrease, without it being false?
We do this by reframing what is imperfect about praise and reflecting the honour to One who is greater than us. When we take time to thank God, to acknowledge God, to refer to and be grateful, we are aligned in this area of perspective. We become framed by who brings the increase and what parts of our humanity need to fade away. Some of the most humble people I have ever met, have been the most confident people. Also some of the most narcissistic people have been the most overt deflectors of praise.
The way we acknowledge someone’s encouragement and then reframe the person who is really responsible, is the most powerful dance of our walk towards Easter.
Jesus was strong, he was people savvy, he was kind, he was present, however he was always referring people back to the Father. He was always directing the praise and the honour back to the place of power.
Encouragement, praise, confidence, attention, self obsession and narcissism are real struggles in our emancipated culture in the west. Today as I read through 40 days of decrease, I am watching the times that I shrink in the midst of imperfect praise and reminding myself to reframe who the praise actually belongs to.
Day 38: is all about reframing praise.
There is an amazing song at the moment that has taken me captive. The words repeat “His praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips…” This is my prayer this Easter, that I would not be deflecting praise, but redirecting where the praise should be given.
How are you going in this area of your life?
I’m not that great at this.