Two Christmas Pictures

Written by Lisa Tyson
Published on December 13, 2019

The first picture is almost perfect. If there was a fire in the fireplace, this could be a holiday card. My tree is sparkling. The stockings are perfectly spaced and hung. Nothing is on the carpet—NOTHING.  I can see no visible mess and it is beautiful. This picture looks like a Silent Night where “all is calm and all is bright.” I can almost smell the Balsam candle and hear the soft sounds of the instrumental Christmas music in the background as I sit and marvel at the beauty of Christmas happening right before my eyes.  Except it isn’t real. Sure….its my house, but if you walked in the front door right now and sat down on my couch, it is not the image you would see. 

There is another picture–the unedited one with no fancy filters and lots of real life.   It is taken in the same room, of the same tree, in the same five minute span of time.   The laundry is on the couch—some folded, some not.  (I’m going to have to wash the shirts again because they are wrinkled after sitting in the dryer for several days.) The television is on and we are not watching Hallmark movies.  My briefcase, full of unfinished reports, and purse are on the countertop with my laptop on the ottoman next to the electric bill I forgot to pay. The plastic bag next to my purse has ribbon I purchased to tie on the Christmas presents I have not yet bought.  My dogs are asleep on the couch on the blankets I just washed. The kids are upstairs “studying” although I’m not sure how Netflix fits into the English exam study guide.  My husband isn’t home (again) because works in the Operations area of a large church and it’s the time for the Christmas program. If you were wondering, there is a whole crew of people you will never see on a stage or read about in a program that make this event (and everything else in a church) happen.  My life unedited.  The second picture.  The one that no one posts on social media. 

Why does this matter? Because I want real life to be the first picture. But it’s not, my real life is messy and busy. It is exhausting. I have 3 kids, 2 dogs, 1 husband and a full time job. My daily reality is unfiltered and unedited. I like to show the “pretty” and that’s okay! It’s also okay to say, “this is it—my life unedited.”  That does not mean I pour out my crazy or the crazy of my kids for everyone to see and read about.  What it means is that I accept the fact that almost every “perfect picture” is a filtered view of the reality going in around it. What most people put out there is “cropped” and “colored” and probably the 52nd picture taken because none of the first 51 were acceptable.  I have to make sure that I don’t fall into the trap of measuring my actual life against someone else’s perfectly edited picture.

Sweet friends waiting for Christmas to be magically merry and bright, take a breath. Jesus didn’t come to earth to save the “filtered and edited.” He came to meet us right where we are—laundry on the couch and all. Think about the first Christmas.  Joseph was probably a wreck.  He had one job when he got to town—find a place for his pregnant wife to rest—and there is no room anywhere.  So, while breathtaking angels were singing their glorious hallelujahs creating a picture perfect scene, Mary was in an old barn surrounded by dirt and animals.  She had been riding a donkey all day.  She was in labor giving birth to a baby on a pile of hay. She didn’t even have a real bed or baby clothes for her infant son. Talk about unfiltered….the awesome reality is that it wasn’t the picture perfect angels who changed the world that night. It was the Baby born in the barn that we might have (unfiltered) abundant life.  Enjoy those “angel moments”!  They are wonderful.  Just don’t underestimate the power of the “barn moments” because that is where you will find Jesus.

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Lisa Tyson

My name is Lisa Tyson. I am a Baylor graduate, have been married to the only man I have ever loved for the past 24 years, and we have 3 perfectly imperfect children — 20 (rising Jr. at Texas Tech), 17 (rising Senior), and 12 (rising 7th grader). Our oldest two are boys and the youngest is a sweet and spicy girl. I run my own practice as an Educational Diagnostician working with school districts to identify and serve their bilingual students while my husband works in the Operations Department for our church. I speak Spanish fluency and I love to read and scrapbook. One of my many life verses is, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). I am far from an Insta-mazing wife and mom — we eat the same leftovers over and over, I forget every picture day, and I had to buy my middle child new socks and underwear when I packed all of his and sent them to college with his brother (in an effort to not forget anything). But one thing I do well is this: I remember that the Lord has lavished us with His grace and nothing that touches our family is by accident. So we press on and push through knowing that He has always been faithful — no matter what.

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