I was recently able to accompany my mom on a quick, little spontaneous girls’ trip out to Colorado to visit my older sister (shout out to my wonderful co-worker, Alicia, for switching a few shifts around with me!). We flew out together and stayed for a few days to explore the beauty of Colorado. I’m not about to tell you how perfect this trip was, because let’s just be honest here for a moment… I worked the night before we left, came home and slept for a short three hours and then headed to the airport to leave. The following day my mom and Jenny (my sister) woke up at like 7:00am (whyyyyy???) and were just as chipper as ever chatting it up while I tried to hide under the blankets for just a bit longer. Five minutes later the blinds were opened, flooding the room with the brightness of the morning sun…so much for getting any more sleep. That first day we did lots of walking around, like at least 8 miles I believe.. I didn’t have the most appropriate walking shoes on, I was still definitely not caught up on sleep, and I’m pretty sure I complained for the majority of the day (and by “pretty sure” I mean I 100% know I did…). Thankfully Mom and Jenny gave me some grace and didn’t drop me off on the curb. What a great attitude to start a trip with, right? Kind of ridiculous.
Looking back on the few days we spent out there, I did realize a few important things–hence the purpose of this post. As the title suggests, I realized that the best memories from this trip were found in the messy moments instead of the ‘posed perfection’ captured by a camera. I’ll share two examples:
On day two we decided to check out Mount Evans Scenic Byway. It is the highest summit of the Chicago Peaks in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Even better, it’s the highest paved road in North America, meaning you can drive up the mountain to an altitude over 14,000 feet (and pretend you hiked the whole way)! With Jenny as the navigator for this day trip, we drove just a bit to get to the base of the mountain to start our trek up. We drove up the mountain for about 14 miles on a super narrow paved road hardly big enough for two passing cars. Not to mention, if you had to move over for a passing car or a pedaling cyclist (still confused as to how one accomplishes that—I could hardly breathe walking around at the peak!), you inched even closer to the edge of a cliff. My mom and I are not the biggest fans of heights, and each time I looked out the window my stomach would churn a little more at the sight of the base of the mountain waaaay down below. It wasn’t especially a gradual slope either, but rather a direct drop off. One poorly estimated turn around the corner and you’d drive right off the cliff.
We got to laughing on the way up as Jenny confidently drove through all the curves, rolling her eyes as mom and I slightly freaked out and nervously repeated, “Eyes on the road, Jen!” After safely making it to the top, there was about a ¼ mile hike to the very peak of the mountain. Of course, we had to document the fact that we had survived the drive and officially made it to the top of a 14’er! We took a series of probably 10 selfies of the three of us at the top, one of which turned out decent because mom was either talking through them, we were all laughing, or the wind was blowing hair in our faces. I looked back through them after we had survived the descent back down the mountain, and didn’t really approve any worthy of being shared with the world. They weren’t quite ‘perfect’ enough. But we’ll come back to this..
Story number 2 begins after a long day of activities and three very tired people. After running around Denver all day we headed back to Jenny’s place, but made a quick pit stop at Target of course. After perusing the aisles for a bit and grabbing a few necessities, we picked up a bag of family size pretzel M&Ms to snack on. Not wanting to wait until we got back, mom opened them up in the car. I was sitting co-pilot for the day, and mom had taken the backseat. She opened the M&Ms and set them on the console between Jenny and I in the front. While driving back, Jenny made a turn around a corner and the bag of M&Ms slid off the console towards me. Before I could react, the ENTIRE bag spilled upside down and into the crack between the console and my seat, filling in all the space in the crack of the seat belt holder. I picked up the now empty bag, and knew Jenny would be super upset, especially since she had just vacuumed out the car. Her reaction went something like this..
“Are you kidding me?!?! NATALIEEE!!! I was literally just thinking I should tell you to hold onto the bag as we turned the corner, but I assumed ‘oh she’ll know to do that!’ UGGHHH..”
She was pretty upset about it. Meanwhile, Mom and I were laughing SO HARD we could barely breathe, as the M&Ms rolled from the front of the car to the back and literally all over. We were both cry-laughing and had mascara smeared in the corners of our eyes. This went on for probably ten minutes before we could gain enough composure to actually talk. Even now as I’m typing this I can’t help but laugh. It. Was. SO. Funny. Probably one of those “had to be there” moments and you probably think this story is pointless, but I couldn’t get over it. I’m pretty sure it took ten minutes before Jenny so much as smiled about it, but Mom and I could not stop laughing as it replayed in our heads. There were M&Ms all over! I tried to retrieve as many as I could but some had slid into cracks I couldn’t quite get my finger into. After digging for awhile I’m pretty sure we got them all, but I wouldn’t doubt it if Jenny finds one or two rolling around in a few months! 🙂
Of all the perfect pictures of the mountain side and group photos with perfect smiles and lighting, none of them evoke the memories of the trip as much as the imperfect ones. I look at the pictures we took that are imperfect, and laugh because I know mom was talking, the wind was blowing like crazy, I was freezing cold, or because M&Ms were spilled all over. These images have a memory attached to them that is more significant than the perfectly posed images where ‘perfection’ in a moment was captured. Do those perfect images really capture what kind of day we had? It may look like it to those who view them. Making it appear that we had a fantastic drive up the mountain, and trips exploring the scenery without any complaining, crabbiness, frightening drives, or messes made. However, they leave out the beauty, honesty, rawness, and imperfection of the trip.
I think it’s a bit ironic that the memories and moments in time I will probably remember in a few years are held in the imperfect, far from ‘instagram worthy’ captured moments rather than the perfect ones. Isn’t that the truth for us in life though too? We share with everyone the 8th picture we captured because it’s “the best one” or the one that looks the most professional-although it probably doesn’t tell the full picture of the event. We try to pretend to the world that everything in our lives is just dandy and doesn’t have any imperfections in order to compete with the world. We make it look like we are so photogenic; that the photo or moment we share took only one shot, as we scroll through 25 photos of the same image to select the ‘best’ one.
My question to you and myself is what are we trying to prove? Who are we trying to impress? Is our definition of beauty, popularity, and WORTH, defined in how perfect we can make our lives look? If you hear yourself saying yes, that’s a dangerous place to live. I can’t say that I don’t struggle with this issue too, but there’s so much more to life than moments of captured perfection! The memories are oftentimes most held in the imperfection. In the memories behind the real moments that aren’t always shared with the world. Living in those moments, putting your identity in the imperfection of life, and the grace we’re given is so much more worth it. It becomes truthful, relatable, and honest instead of turning into a competition with everyone else in the world and their ‘perfect’ lives, children, vacations, or jobs. Let’s be more willing to share the imperfect moments of our lives, because let’s be honest that’s oftentimes where the real moments of life are held. They tell more of a story than the time and effort it takes to act like that perfect picture is a true testament to the reality of the moment! How encouraging though to know that in our imperfection, we have a God who is aware of it and steps in with his true, honest, perfection to cover us in His grace. I think this verse in 2 Corinthians sums it up well,
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness (imperfection).” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses (imperfection), so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Deuteronomy 32:4 also mentions Christ’s perfection,
“The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.
Yes, I had to look up and do some research on verses dealing with perfection because no, I don’t know the Bible well enough to dig those up on my own. How comforting to know that we don’t have to be perfect or pretend to be. I think we can all do a little better in this category. After all, who are we really fooling? Putting our identity in Jesus, the true image of perfection, instead of the approval of the world is a much safer place to live. Jesus knows we are all imperfect, yet he chooses to love us anyway. Let’s show more of that acceptance to one other! So, I dare you next time you skip over a less than perfect photo to share with the world, be a little more willing to pick that imperfect one instead—after all it may tell a little better story. Let’s attempt to do less competing and more relating with one another!
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