Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Behind the Smiles

Pictures are wordless stories, and so are photographs. But what about those arranged photos of family and friends? What stories exist behind the smiles? How many people come together in a moment of time and simply strike a pose? Who is really happy? 

I documented memories this past Christmas with a camera. Our extended family only gathers together several times a year and pictures help me remember good times. As I reflected on the memories from the photos, I began to study all the smiles. Were those happy faces just for the moment or were they for real? Which smiles were covering suffering and distress? 

Out of the thoughts and questions I had about the smiling faces in my photographs came the poem “Behind the Smiles.” I hope it generates your compassion for those who hide behind smiles.

Behind the Smiles

Life stills for a brief moment,
A memory in the making.
Family and friends strike a pose
How many expressions are faking?

The scenery in the snapshot
Depicts a single note of time.
Everyone’s posed for a keepsake,
A token of existence sublime.

Pondering the motionless happy scene,
Are situations full of laughs?
What lies behind the grinning faces
Of people in photographs?

We want the world to know
That nothing with us is wrong.
We put on an expression of warmth,
Our souls appear full of song.

But deep inside some wounded hearts
Resides misery, anguish, and woe.
Daily the depth of sufferings increase.
Lord, to whom shall we go?

Jesus gives us the words of life.
When believed they dispel the dark.
Scripture’s many encouraging words
Overflow from a trusting heart.

Many a photo may contain
Fake grins from ear to ear.
Knowing happy faces emit the truth
Tells the onlooker God is near.

Debbie Crawford 1/15/14

Stepping out of the pictures and looking at the people around us, do we know if the smiles on their faces are real? Do their happy faces conceal worry and anxiety? How can we know? Can we offer help?

Do you hide hurts with a smile? Do you know other people whose grins mask problems? Where can you go to find real joy? How can you offer joy to others? The answer is the word of God. His Word is the salve that soothes pains. His Word is the ointment of true joy. His Word produces true smiles!

Read His comforting words below and let them fill your soul. Put on a smile of joy and share your happiness with others.

Listen to my words, Lord,
    consider my lament.
 Hear my cry for help,
    my King and my God,
    for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
    with you, evil people are not welcome.
 The arrogant cannot stand
    in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
     you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
    you, Lord, detest.
But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    toward your holy temple.

Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies—
    make your way straight before me.
Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
    their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
    with their tongues they tell lies.
Declare them guilty, O God!
    Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5 (NIV)

Protect me, God, for the only safety I know is found in the moments I seek You.
I told You, Eternal One, “You are my Lord,
    for the only good I know in this world is found in You alone.”

The beauty of faith-filled people encompasses me.
    They are true, and my heart is thrilled beyond measure.
All the while the despair of many,
    who abandoned Your goodness for the empty promises of false gods, increases day by day.
I refuse to pour out blood offerings,
    to utter their names from my lips.

You, Eternal One, are my sustenance and my life-giving cup.
    In that cup, You hold my future and my eternal riches.
My home is surrounded in beauty;
    You have gifted me with abundance and a rich legacy.

I will bless the Eternal, whose wise teaching orchestrates my days
    and centers my mind at night.
He is ever present with me;
    at all times He goes before me.
I will not live in fear or abandon my calling
    because He stands at my right hand.

This is a good life—my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy,
    and my body is at rest.
    Who could want for more?
You will not abandon me to experience death and the grave
    or leave me to rot alone.

Instead, You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life.
    As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending,
    and I know true joy and contentment.
Psalm 16 (The Voice)

The Lord sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
Psalm 145:14-16 (NASB)


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