At one point this summer, our lives – our reactions, our love, our joy, our despair, our confusion – were perfectly captured in a series of snapshots taken by a dear friend. The candid shots were taken unbeknownst to my husband, my mother, my daughter, me, or any of our friends sitting near us. Once the moment was over, my friend turned to me with a knowing grin and said, “You have to see these pictures that I took.”
Our summer could be summarized by snapshots. Click. The joy and smiles as we greet the dear friends of our “summer swim family.” Click. Our four year old swimming in her first swim meet. Click. Our oldest turning eleven, celebrating with a rousing game of flashlight tag – including one friend up a tree and another friend flat in a ditch. Click. Our eight year old winning second place in the whole city in the 25 meter eight and under girls breaststroke. Click. Our heartbreak and devastation, tinged with joy and peace, as we received the news that our mother/mother-in-law had gone home to rest in Jesus’ arms after a long battle with cancer. Click. Snapshots of ordinary, every day moments captured through the lens of our days, stored in our hearts. And I am slowly learning that God uses the weak things of this world to shame the wise, makes small things great for His glory, and builds the extraordinary out of the most ordinary.
As we flipped through the pictures, the first begins with my mother, my two daughters, my husband, my dad, and me all seated on bleachers watching my son at a swim event. My husband is gripping a digital SLR camera, having just photographed our son’s start for future analysis and dissection. One daughter is laying down, head in my mom’s lap, watching the iPad. Another daughter is absorbed in a book. My mom is intent, my dad and I are hidden behind others. As the snapshots progress, my husband’s mouth opens wider and wider in a huge yell, his color changes to an intense red, our daughters “awaken” from their screen-induced slumber, and my mother becomes more and more confused. The set of pictures end with my husband almost weeping for joy, me rubbing his arms, our daughters sitting up with intense interest, and my mother inconsolable with despair.
You see, our son decided to swim a 50 meter backstroke for the first time in a major competition. And he destroyed the other swimmers in his heat, dropping eight seconds off of his fastest time, sailing into the final heat. My husband and I yelled and rejoiced, drawing all of our friends and those seated around us into our joy. My mother was confused by our celebration, since she had been watching the wrong swimmer for the whole race, thinking her grandson had come in last…instead he won! Contained in that one snapshot is a grand metaphor – of trying something new, of family cheering you on and loving you regardless of win or lose, of confusion giving way to despair turning to joy because of misguided sight. All summed up in a series of moments, ordinary and the building blocks of memory.