Monday, August 22, 2011

If you think I'm a jerk...

If I didn't know me, I'd think I was a big jerk.

Well, yes, I am a big jerk, at least sometimes. I'm vain and selfish, and I tend to leave my shoes around the house for people to trip on. I like things done MY way (i.e. the right way) and I talk too much. Way too much. So in fact, I am a bit of a jerk.

Jerk is really not the word I want to use. I'm thinking more of a word typically used to describe a woman who is vain and selfish and likes to show off. And maybe I'm really one of those too.

I'm pondering this today because I'm going through pictures from my anniversary event on Saturday. I put some on Facebook, because that's what you do with pictures, and I love to share pictures. But I saw my smiling face, my pretty dress, my beautiful family, and I thought, what a b....., I mean "jerk."

I mean, really. I imagined someone who doesn't know me really well looking at these photos. I'd think, "Who does she think she is? She really needs to get over herself. How embarrassing, posing for photos like she's a young bride or something. She's almost 50 for God's sake. And all those kids and grandkids. Does she have to keep throwing it in our faces that she's got this perfect family? Man! How annoying!"

I suppose someone who doesn't know me well might think these very things, and I can't blame him or (more likely) her. (I know it's we girls who tend to judge one another harshly.) I know sometimes I've seen pictures of Facebook friends' homes or vacations and felt a twinge of jealousy. But honestly, I mostly feel happy for them. Really.

I LOVE photographs. I like photos of the sky, and puppies, and houses, and trees, but mostly I love pictures of people enjoying life. I could spend hours looking at photos of babies and weddings - even if I don't know the subjects. Good photography is one of my passions. And even poorly taken snapshots from cell phones can be wonderful - if they tell a story about someone's life. I love that.

Pictures of my family, and yes, well, myself are important to me, too. My closest friends know that one of my big sorrows is that I had very few wedding photos, and not a single full length one of myself. Those same friends also know that I did not have a "dream" wedding. It was a difficult time in my life, and I'm sure there are many who thought we wouldn't last 25 days, let alone 25 years. So this occasion was extremely meaningful to me, and photos are a big part of it.

The thing is, when I share the blessings of my life, I feel, well, like a jerk sometimes. I know that many of my friends are single, not by their own choice. My photos highlighting my 25th anniversary might bring them more than a bit of sorrow. I know my friends who long for a baby might find my large family to be a sad reminder of their suffering. My four grandbabies, who all live within minutes of me, remind the grandparents whose kids live across the country that they won't see their grandchildren until Christmas.

And that makes me feel like a jerk.

Sometimes I think about sharing more of the negatives of my life. Facebook is tricky. I usually aim for a balance: lots of positive encouragement, good news when I have it, a sharing of blessings, tempered with an occasional prayer request or acknowledgment that we're going through a tough time. I err on the side of the good because I really don't want to be that complainer whose every status features the word "annoyed."

But I'm thinking maybe I should share more "reality." Instead of pics of me in a pretty dress, I could show the mismatched outfits I wear around the house, or the many pairs of jeans I have that highlight my muffin top. While you look at those photos of Aaron and me lovingly staring into one another's eyes, I could tell you stories about some of the difficult spots in our marriage, and perhaps recommend one of the several marriage counselors we have met. While feeling a little jealous about the beautiful ring I'm wearing (thank you to my wonderful mother-in-law!) I can make you a cup of coffee so we can chat about the possible foreclosure of our house. We could take a drive to chat some more, but we'd have to pray for a cool day, because there is no air conditioning in my van. Maybe we should just hang out in my kitchen, since coffee is kind of expensive. I can make you a cup, but it might be hard to find a spoon, because my kitchen drawers have no fronts, and several of them have no backs, and the silverware tends to fall behind them. And when we're done we'll have to wash the dishes, because there's not a working dishwasher.

Now, wouldn't pictures of all that be refreshing? Oooh, we could even include shots of our current day trips - to the DHS, applying for food stamps! Or more couple pics, of Aaron and me arguing (more like crying) over bills, or bleary eyed from computer job searches! Yay!

I think I'll stick with the pretty ones, and take my chances. :)

Because I know that my friends and family understand. You know that I truly want to share my joy with those I love. We've shared so much sadness - the loss of our baby daughter, the challenges of Aaron's health, the job loss, the financial strain - that we want to share our happy moments as a way of saying, "God is so good to us. We know you are suffering sometimes, and so are we. But there is so much good in our lives. Let's celebrate."

I hope that comes across. And if you still think I'm a jerk, that's OK. Message me and I'll send you some pics of my kitchen, and you'll feel much better.

In the meantime, enjoy the above photo. A quick search of my computer did not reveal many unflattering shots (duh, I'm vain, remember? Those get deleted ASAP)but I did find this one with such a very "revealing" angle. And you thought that blonde was natural, right?