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Who Is That Woman In the Photo

It was a picture of me — from about five years ago. I scrolled on, but something made me click the BACK button. I studied her. Who is that woman smiling into the camera — even with her eyes. That’s rare. For me anyways. My daughter tells me I don’t often smile unabashedly for kodak moments. But here is proof that I did — at least once.

My mind went in so many directions as I stared at her face. It was almost like looking at a stranger. I don’t know her anymore. Jumbled emotions burst into my head and then tumbled into my heart.

Happiness. Sadness. Confusion. Pain. Innocence.

Yes, that’s it. Innocence. The unknown.

A part of me wants to reach into the photo and warn her. Prepare her. Protect her. But honestly, a bigger part of me just wants to turn back the clock, and be there in that picture… at that time. When everything was as it should be.

But there is something else about the picture that mesmerizes me. It’s in the eyes. What is that? Oh, I know. Joy. I see complete joy in her face. In her eyes. In her body language.


Elusive joy.

That little three letter word. So small and yet…

My books are talking excitedly about joy, words almost jumping off the pages.

My podcast people — all of them — are chatting about joy. They’ve been in the valley too. And yet…

My morning devotions, even though the book is authored by many different people, proclaim the benefits of joy.

And my Pastor is relentlessly talking about joy from the pulpit — he even named his new series, Flourish.

Evidently, flourishing and joy are connected (I thinketh God is trying to tell me something.) But oh…

I don’t want to flourish. And yet… I do want to flourish.

Grief. It’s still so confusing. If I flourish, if I move forward, have I forgotten? Can I truly be joyful if what I want I can no longer have? And how can anything be “better than?” How do I do any of this?

These are the questions I now ask of God, knowing and understanding that I join millions who have asked before. Is that innocence gone? Or just wisdom and empathy arrived?

I clicked a “heart” onto the picture, marking it as one of my favorites, and closed out the photo app. Still full of all the feelings the picture of “her” stirred up, I pulled out my journal and began to write. Lamenting honestly to the One who is always willing to listen. The One who is able to comfort. The One who knows the woman in the photo and the woman I have become. He loves them both. He accepts them both. And I am grateful.

My husband has died yet God is good. It’s taken me awhile to believe those words. I mean really believe them. But I do. Grief and Belief can and do walk hand in hand.

With thankfulness and expectancy, I remember His faithfulness. I remember His goodness.

Here, with an open heart and fluid pen, I surrender my days…

There’s a new woman in the photographs these days, one I’m just getting to know. I pray boldly for joy once again to sparkle in her eyes. May she have the audacity to smile unabashedly for any and all kodak moments.

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