A former acquaintance once said to me, “When you look in the mirror, you don’t see what everyone else sees, do you?” I considered myself quite average and often felt quite insecure about my appearance. I recall spending lots of time sitting on the bathroom sink as a little girl, looking in the mirror and wondering why God gave me the features He did. The insight my friend offered helped me realize, I’d been looking at the same image my whole life and knew it all too well. Indeed, I wasn’t seeing what others saw.
Many years ago, a coworker refused to get into a department picture at a holiday gathering. She claimed, “Every time I have my picture taken a middle-aged woman shows up wearing my clothes.” It was funny but sad all the same. Rather than seeing herself aging gracefully and glowing with wisdom, she chose to exclude herself from Kodak moments many of us would enjoy recalling with fondness.
This is one of my reflections, my Random Musing from a third summer camp with kids from “the system”. Last year I wrote a reflection “Give Me Eyes So I Can See“. To describe my first year as one of the camp photographers. This year I had the privilege to look into their eyes once again through my camera lens. I saw pain but I also saw growth. In some, I saw a new confidence and an enthusiasm to have their picture taken. I watched their reactions as they reviewed their camp photo albums just before boarding the bus heading home. I listened to them on the bus ride home as they giggled about the funny photos, were elated by the action shots they couldn’t believe we caught, and compliments shared with each other on photos that captured their beauty. I saw a kids who may be put down or ignored at home gain a sense of worth through their experiences at camp. Any exhaustion I felt was recharged knowing they banked a few happy memories to reassure them there is hope for their future.
On the day before leaving camp last year, I learned we needed a collection staff photos for our welcome home dinner. Uh-0h! I thought this week as all about the kids. I had to pan for gold in my raw photos to find gems for the appreciation dinner. I had taken thousands of pictures without culling any. The AV guy and I were up all night but we completed the task. The part of me that likes all my ducks in a row was excited to fill this role at camp with a year of experience under my belt. Not only did I capture images of the kids, I snapped photos of the staff as well. Often, especially the ladies, didn’t like having their photo taken. Mind you, we are exhausted and are not “glamping” with the kiddos. They have poured every ounce of their spirit and body into these kids. They feel fortunate to have shower time at the end of a hot, sweaty day.
You know what I saw through my lens? I saw Jesus.
I saw Jesus getting His nails sloppily painted in 10 different colors with glitter accents.
I saw Jesus getting His hair braided.
I saw Jesus swimming in the lake and tossing boys in the air. Again and again.
I saw Jesus washing the feet of His precious children on spa day and giving facials too.
I saw Jesus baiting hooks with worms so His kids could fish off the pier.
I saw Jesus doing silly actions to songs, hoping His word would stick in their memory.
I saw Jesus come alongside the more challenged kids to help them cope.
I saw Jesus in countless ways this week. In each and every photo, He shined through the faces that resembled my friends. I saw them give their heart and soul to the kids with the special gifts He equipped them with for such a time as this. When we read “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” in Philippians 4:13, it doesn’t mean we can conquer the world. It means we can accomplish the tasks He has appointed for us.
I uploaded our staff shots to our social media page yesterday. It has been a blessing to make them available to these amazing volunteers who were the hands and feet of Christ. I hope they see themselves as beautifully as we see them and can get beyond small details that they’ve seen in the mirror all their lives. Maybe others see crooked smiles and birthmarks as well. But we look beyond those insignificant traits to see precious hearts willing to serve an Awesome God. We see what He sees.