I shake my head as I flip through our family photo album. Page after page of pictures and I’m not in any of them.
There was a day several years ago when my daughter asked me, “Mommy, I see Daddy with us, but where were you all that time?”
My children are going to grow up thinking I was an absent mother. Years from now, they will look through these albums and shake their heads, At least daddy loved us. Look at all of those family vacations he took us on all by himself!
Never mind that I was the one hanging upside down from the rafters to get those adorable shots of my family.
So few of our photos have me in them. What about me?! Why can’t someone else be thoughtful enough to take pictures every now and then? What does it always have to be me?!
To prove my existence in the family, I often resorted to taking shots like this one:
I am very mature and am always sure to keep the real problems of the world in perspective. I also never blow things out of proportion or have unrealistic expectations of people.
Joking aside, sometimes it’s those annoyances of our everyday that carry hints into the secrets we carry in our souls.
I’m tempted to just say I’m being ridiculous. That may be true – but what also may be true is that there is something deeper going on.
Sometimes annoyance is just annoyance. But not always.
Why does this bother me really?
John and I go on a date, sit outside MCoul’s under the twinkle lights. We share an appetizer and without thinking I snap a shot of his profile with my phone. I like the way he looks just now, looking off into the distance.
Before I can stop myself, I ask him why he never takes photos of me. I recognize a touch of anxiety within me as I anticipate his response.
My question surprises him, and he answers with, “I don’t know. Pictures just aren’t that important to me. I’d rather have the real thing.”
I smile, look down.
“Do you wish I took more photos of you?” He asks genuinely, not realizing this is a thing.
I immediately feel stupid – Why is this a thing? It’s not like I like to have my picture taken. I don’t necessarily like looking at my picture when it is taken, either. I’m not all hey look at me! ish.
I am challenged to be honest even though I don’t know what it means. I admit to him I wish he took more photos of me. When he asks why, I don’t have an answer.
I once heard Dr. Larry Crabb say the deepest fear of a woman is invisibility.
At first glance, I disagree. Invisibility would be awesome! Superpower anyone?
But the more I think about it, the more I can say I understand. I can’t speak for every woman, but I can say for me invisibility is a legitimate fear.
I don’t want attention or spotlights or even to be looked at, necessarily.
I want to be seen. I want to be known for who I am, seen on the soul level, regarded. Please don’t let me disappear. Please turn your head in my direction, look into my eyes, and see me.
Maybe that’s what it is with me and photos – I want to know my husband sees me. On the surface level, photos would be proof.
But a photo isn’t really what I want.
John and I have been married for 12 years this month. Like most marriages, our relationship has always been changing, but over the past two years it has changed the most, mainly because my husband is beginning to see me. He is curious over me. He moves toward me – even when I am frantic and chaotic – with courage and intention.
It hasn’t always been that way. And he still doesn’t take pictures of me.
But now I don’t care as much.
Are there any situations in your life right now that are causing you anxiety or even minor annoyance? Might you be willing to take a closer look and see if there is anything deeper going on?
ABOUT EMILY FREEMAN
Emily Freeman is a writer who encourages girls of all ages to create space for their souls to breathe. She is the author of two books: Grace for the Good Girl and Graceful. She and her husband live...