Sunset last night
Tom, Jen, the babe, and I all jetted off yesterday after a weekend of hard work at the Steubenville Youth Conference in Orlando, FL. It was a longer flight than I realized (4 hours), but I guess that's what happens when you're 19 miles north of the Venezuelan coast. Quick jaunt to Caracas, anyone?
We got here around 3:30pm yesterday, and by 4pm, were in our suits, exploring the grounds of the hotel. Zuzu stared at exotic birds and chased after several iguanas - I guess my Florida girl has no fear of reptiles. We hung out at the pool for a while, before having dinner and then going for a post-dinner ocean swim. Why not? We're on vacation.
Loveliness courtesy of Jen
I grabbed Jen's camera and started snapping away - images of Jen, Zuzu, and Tom frolicking by the ocean. Passerbys smiled indulgently, and I realized the scene looked the opposite of what it was: I was the friend taking pictures of the family. But as I've reflected with Jen before, I like it better taking pictures of her with Tom and Zuzu - because they look like what I think a family should look like. For me, Jen looks what a young mom should look like: her silhouette is slender, no pouching tummy, or big thighs. The images with her in them, silhouetted against that Aruba sunset, were almost like make-believe for me: this is what my family should look like.
Jen and Zuzu have a kiss
But then Zuzu asked me to get into the water (which I'm not going to do with Jen's very nice DSLR camera). And I knew Jen or Tom would take the camera and then take pics of me, and they wouldn't look the way I think they should look. I thought about all the pictures of my mom and I from when I was young, and I revisit them again and again because I think she was (and is) so beautiful, so young, so my mother. But would I love my mother any less if she looked any differently? I love my mother for who she is, for who she's always been: she's beautiful because she loves me. Zuzu thinks I'm beautiful because I love her - love refines, love makes beautiful.
I can choose to show her that I believe in the lies of the world: that only certain people deserve to have their pictures taken, that we should be ashamed of bodies that are different, that fear should motivate how we feel about ourselves. I can show her that there should be a division between women who 'fit' the stereotype and those who don't, I can use phrases like 'real women' to devalue others' bodies, striking back in my self-consciousness by declaring thin women to be 'fake.'
Or - and this is a big or - or I could choose to show her what God believes about beauty. That beauty, although it exists as a concept, objectively, is also something that exists in actions, in our souls, in who we strive to be. I create beauty, and I am beautiful, in relation to how much I love.
I still believe Zuzu will look at these pictures when she's older and think I am beautiful. I will work to convince myself of this too; to conform my mind to the mind of Christ. To believe that beauty is about who we are as much as what we look like.
Be beautiful, be loving, be Christ to your family today - and take some pictures to remember it all.