It’s school picture time. The kid looks a lot different from last year. Maybe it’s the COVID hair that never did get cut. Maybe it’s the huge difference between fifteen and sixteen. Maybe he’s reacting to all of my facebook posts about him and decided to outwit any potential paparazzi. I’ll watch for an entourage fee on my credit card. 

This year’s picture shows some shaggy hair and a terribly infected red eye. I asked him if he wants to have it taken again and he said, “No. You get what you see.” So here’s the sophomore, as pictured.

His response makes me think of packaging that has disclaimers. It’s a real let down when you buy crackers that are pictured with a variety of scrumptious dips, but the box says “serving suggestion”. I don’t need the suggestion. I need what’s pictured. Mostly because I’m a terrible cook and I’d like what’s pictured to be in the package. Catalogs will advertise candles that are displayed next to a framed print and lovely floral arrangement.  In tiny print you’ll find  “accents not included”. The worst, WORST, is the awesome furniture or kid’s toy that says, “assembly required.”

I am so glad that my kids have outgrown the “assembly required” Christmas presents. I was never the parent that stayed up until 3:00 AM connecting wheels and bumpers and hunting for eight D cell batteries. I giftwrapped the toy in its original box. For the love, why did my kids think Santa could bring a high priced toy “because he makes it in his workshop,” and yet they never questioned why the dang thing wasn’t assembled? For us, toy making started on Christmas morning with a flathead screwdriver tackling undesignated phillips head screws. Three Hallmark movies later, the toys were assembled and assaulting our ears with noisemakers.

“Serving suggestion”, “not included”, “assembly required”… all descriptions of perceptions. The best packages hold items that are sold “as pictured”. All inclusive, no additional effort… you get what you see.

Sometimes we are embellished with pretty accents or serving suggestions. Sometimes we require some assembly. Sometimes we present ourselves as pictured. I’m thankful for my son’s response about his school photo. I’m thankful that my Heavenly Father accepts me as pictured. He doesn’t need suggestions for how to embrace me or instructions for how to put me together. He takes me as pictured and loves me.

How are you feeling when you come before the Father? Do you feel like you aren’t enough? Do you feel unassembled or unprepared? I give you this encouragement. He loves you just the way you are, as pictured. 

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