A life long sorrow — for Anne with an ‘e’ Shirley, it was her red hair. Hair, dark as a raven’s wings, that was her greatest desire for herself. The red of her hair was the one thing she could not imagine away. She was left in complete sorrow over the tragedy of that which she longed for and for that which would never be.
A battle of perception – the image that is yearned for versus the image that is our unwanted reality.
Anne speaks my language. I understand the feeling of looking into a mirror and having a life long sorrow be my reflection. An early memory of mine takes place as a young girl playing tether ball in the backyard. I was feeling particularly on point, with a new hair cut. I could feel the bounce of it as it rested on my shoulder and I had the sides gathered up in the back, joining together for a perfect half-pony. I just knew I was the spitting image of one of my favorite book characters, Elizabeth Dobbs. I felt a surge of confidence overwhelm me as I secretly wished for the handsome neighbor boy to come sauntering out of his house and spot me there, with my preppy new do. No such luck. After another 15 minutes or so of playing my game of tether ball (Yes, I was a pretty cool kid back in the day), I decided to get out of the humid Texas weather and retreat to a place of tolerable temperature. It only goes (further) downhill from this point on. I was horrified by what greeted me in the mirror – frizz that was out of control and a style that was tousled in the most common of ways. (It has taken me 30 years to figure out how to handle these curls of mine — Curly Girl Method 🙌🏽). My unwanted reality picked up my yearned for image and ate it for dinner. That is just one example of unfortunate experiences with unwanted reality. There are more. Many more.
Fast forward to a new dawn.
A simple tap on the reverse image on my camera phone and I am made fully aware of imperfections. Where worry over hair has been replaced by tired lines and wrinkles; where frizz is overshadowed by dark circles and baggy eyes…oh how my life long sorrows have increased. However, for all the unwanted things and for every sorrow, there is a filter for that.
The filtered life.
I’m not gonna lie. This filtered life is startlingly amazing. I can snap a photo and instantly have all my imperfections disappear. I can produce for you, even in my worst state, a picture you can share a thousand times of me and would not once cringe. When cheekbones are perfection, skin is flawless and eyes are comparable to Bambi, I know I am at my best.
Or am I?
I watch my daughter. She giggles and laughs while playing with “funny faces”, aka the filtered look. She has a firmer grip than most on reality versus fantasy, I think. They make her laugh because these pictures, in her mind, they are far from real —especially since most require an outrageous animal characteristic be attached to a person’s face. Yet, even the absurdity of having a dog tongue or prodigiously sized glasses – girls, teenagers, grown women are eagerly using the filtered look in place of #meinreallife. The ratio of altered pictures to non-altered pictures of one’s self on social media has to be ridiculously high.
We rather embrace a fictional characterization of ourselves over actually being ourselves.
Maybe, we have let our “life long sorrows” gain too much momentum in our lives? While seemingly innocent, I fear there is much damage to be done with this radical embracement. While filters can be amusing and fun 👇🏽
And while, on occasion, I do take part in their hilarity 👇🏽
They are shallow and empty. My filtered life doesn’t have much of a story to tell. Where everything is perfect, reveals none of my struggles; it conceals all of my victories.
Because this women here 👇🏽, the filtered life can’t hold a flame to the story she has to share.
Ask her about those dark circles, and she will tell you of late nights fighting battles in prayer or moonlit moments soothing young and restless hearts.
Ask about those lines, and she will tell you about moments of laughter graciously poured out into her life and she will tell you of angst filled moments where God met her and brought her perfect peace.
There are scars that are surface seen and scars that run deep in the shadows of her heart. They are what makes her story beautiful, because in all the imperfections she has a Saviour who is making her new. He is using every flaw for her good and His glory. No one else can tell what this woman has to say.
Life outside the filter.
It is not perfect, but it is a space I’m willing to learn to be more comfortable in, because there is a purpose far greater and deeper than what the filter has to offer. I have a story that is too beautiful to blur over with altering effects. No halo of flowers could make my soul glow in radiant beauty, only the crown of thorns wearing Saviour living in me can accomplish that.
To filter or not
Have fun, enjoy a good laugh, and even admire an unrealistically perfect face. But, take caution. If most photos taken and posted are no longer recognizable of oneself and if the majority of them smooth and erase away the beautiful story that gets to be shared, then it might be time to do a hard reality check and step away from the filter.
Because, outside the filter…is not so bad.