Life Lessons From a Photograph

Looking at a photograph from a recent trip, I realized something. The photograph shows the Lake Michigan shoreline, and looks very peaceful. As is often the case, looks can be deceiving, as the waves were crashing to the point that I was getting splashed regularly standing 10-15 feet above the water. But a 2 minute exposure smoothed the waves to the point that they look like little more than haze around the base of the cliffs. As big as any wave was, it made only a faint impression, that over time averaged into something serene and beautiful.

In life, we are often battered by the waves of adversity. Problems at work, school, or home can seem insurmountable at the time, but we usually find that with the passage of time the insurmountable becomes a distant memory, and usually even weaves into the beauty that is our life. Just like the photograph, things that look huge in the moment look small and dim in the context of our lives. Looking at your problems in the light of this longer time frame can reduce stress and get you through the challenges of life.

So if you are faced with problems, or are looking at taking a risky step, look at it in the context of this year, or better yet this decade, or your lifetime, and you will realize that problems are almost never as big as they seem, and that risks that won’t kill you.

But as I was thinking about the first part of this, another observation hit me. It may seem contradictory, but I think they are complimentary, and work well together. 

In today’s celebrity culture, it is easy to compare ourselves to TV and movies stars or the latest social media sensation, or even the most popular kid a school or someone at work. Their lives looks so perfect that we can never compete. Just remember that we are seeing photographs separated from reality by plenty of time and distance (and probably some retouching.) The waves are there, too. Don’t ever think that someone famous has it so perfect that your life can never compare. They have struggles too, but the distance masks that. Don’t punish yourself by trying to match something even they can’t. 

Thank You

Over the last 240 or so years, many thousands of young men and women have decided that there was something out there that mattered more than themselves. More than their hopes and dreams, more than life itself. They left behind home, family, friends, and the familiar to fight for their country. From the American Revolution, The War of 1812, the American Civil War, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, through the current global war on terror, and countless smaller operations throughout the world, they have fought and died so that Americans and others can enjoy the freedoms we have. 

They left behind mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends and children in the hope that they and their loved ones could have a better country and World to live in. Although many of them came home to enjoy that life, many others gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. They forever rest in cemeteries throughout the world, or in the fields or seas where they fell. 

My family has been blessed, the nearest relative I have lost is one of my grandfather’s cousins, Harry Peter Holdmann, killed in action in the Second World War, 36 years before I was born. I thank the Lord that we can remember the service of many other family members and friends on November 11th, instead of today. But that thankfulness is tinged with sadness, knowing that many families have lost loved ones. 

So this weekend, take a few minutes away from the barbecues and family gatherings to remember those who can’t be here, and to be grateful to them, and those who loved them.