In this seemingly social-media-driven culture, with cell phone cameras in our hands most of the time, our eyes are inundated with photos of the seemingly mundane over and over again. Scrolling through our media feed we see pictures of a dog’s bath, a cat’s nap, a child’s popsicle, a pair of feet at the beach, text message screens, and food. So.much.food.
(On a side note: did you know that there have been various studies within the restaurant industry to address the longer “table times” customers are having, due to being on phones after being seated, taking photos of the menus but not reading them to prepare to order, and then the many photos–and retakes–of the foods and drinks after they arrive? It’s a real phenomenon that is impacting wait staff’s tip earnings and restaurant revenues.)
In our desire to “share real life” with others, we post photos of our cup of tea, our Starbucks, mound of french fries, and our homemade grilled cheese. We take a photo and hurry to find a filter that will enhance the image–to make it look better than it is, to elevate its celebratory status, and then we attempt to craft a witty caption to impress our friends.
But, sometimes, the photo doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, sometimes the photo may only show the “best” part of the story. (After all, grandma taught us to put our best foot forward…and perhaps society has groomed us to put further “regulations” on what is “best.”)
Sometimes we are consciously aware of this, and other times we may not be–it has been so ingrained in us to get the best angle/best lighting/best representation.
I recently made grilled cheese sandwiches for my family. As the sandwiches were sizzling in the frying pan, achieving their lovely golden brown, as the cheese began to heat up and melt, I was interrupted by a text message (oh how I wish it was something more pressing or urgent or noble, but, a text message it was), and I began to “chat” with my friend. I walked away from the frying pan, and nearly forgot I was cooking anything at all. By the time I “remembered” the food I was preparing, I discovered the bottoms of the sandwiches were putting out smoke. Not good.
I flipped the sandwiches and audibly gasped as I surveyed the damage. One sandwich had blackened bread. No doubt my distraction had impacted the sandwiches–though only one had the very telltale signs of the blackening effect. I tried to see if I could possibly replace that piece of bread, to salvage the sandwich, but it seemed the weight of the melted cheese was attached to that piece of the bread rather than its companion. I determined to make the “other” side of the sandwiches as perfectly golden as possible, and decided I would serve myself the one blackened sandwich.
My plan was successful, and the alternate side turned out a wonderful golden color. I plated the sandwiches, and my daughter almost took the blackened sandwich by mistake. She couldn’t see what I had seen and knew–that the sandwich had a burnt quality on the underside.
See, on the plate, the sandwich looked beautiful, inviting, delicious.
But, because I knew what she didn’t, I couldn’t let her have that sandwich. I didn’t want her to have that “less-than” sandwich. I wanted to give her the better.
And, as I realized her initial impression of the sandwich, I recognized the incredible parallel to our initial impressions of things, circumstances, and people.
See, sometimes we look at the outside or a certain side of an item, a circumstance, or a person’s life (especially through the filter of social media), and we begin to desire that thing which we see. [And, if we aren’t careful, we can grow discontent or even jealous, based solely on what we think something is, based on its appearance.]
We can become consumed with our want of something different than we have, all the while not realizing the thing we “want” may actually have a hidden characteristic or flaw or trial that we cannot see in this “snapshot.”
We can be drawn to the golden appearance on the plated item, and not realize that the other side of the bread is blackened (which is a diplomatic way of saying “burned”). We can begin to desire something that, if we were to place it in our mouth, would have a bitter bite to it, a very hard texture, and which might well cause us to want to spit it out and lose our appetite altogether.
Sometimes when we only see the “pretty” side of something we can be drawn to something that may have a “bite” and a “hardness” to it, that, if we knew it was there, we would not likely willingly pick up and bite into with such eagerness.
I wasn’t proud of the burning of the bread and all that it represented. I wasn’t proud of the distracted nature of my time in that moment. I wasn’t proud of the potential waste of food and budget.
In my heart of hearts, I wanted to cover up the burnt nature of the bread, and I did in the way I plated it, even knowing I would be the one to eat it, somehow I thought I could trick my mind and palate if I had the beautiful side facing me as I ate. And yet, I knew the bread was burned.
What about you? Have you ever desperately wanted to cover your blemishes, your distractions, your “less thans,” and only put forward your best foot?
God’s Word says that man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.
I don’t want to be so consumed with outward appearance that I miss cultivating a heart that is pleasing to God. I don’t want to have to consider how I’m “plated.”
I want to have a heart that approaches God (and others) in transparency and sincerity. I want my heart to be made more and more pure, and I want what others see to be a sincere reflection of that purity– to allow others to taste and see that the Lord is good.