If I had to pick one all-time favorite photo (impossible, by the way), it would definitely be a candid. Perhaps an image of open-mouthed laughter, or the face of sheer surprise, or a still frame of the typically ornery child caught reading quietly in bed. Unposed, slightly imperfect, and totally real, candids capture the true moment and the genuine person.
Studio pictures and school pictures are all well and good, but since when do they convey personality? Let’s get real – the last time my child looked at me with fixed eye contact, head slightly cocked, a strained smile, and arms calmly folded in front of them, I guarantee I was completely freaked out. In real life, if someone voluntarily chooses to pose as described, that person is either losing their mind or trying not to poop their pants. That’s only a theory, but I think I’m on to something.
Kids are the best subjects for candids. Perhaps it’s their inexperience with posing. Or maybe it’s the fact that they don’t think too much of themselves. They live with more abandon. They’re not too old, too mature, too smart, too refined, too clever, too polite, too experienced, too accomplished, too proud, or too darned awesome to live out loud. They’re not embarrassed by the picture that busted them messy haired, dressed like a hobo, shoving a donut in their mouth. They love that picture, because unbrushed hair and 2 bite donut consumption is good livin’. Kid rational is: ‘life is for living, not posing.’ Even if it means looking slightly foolish.
Grown-ups love candids of their kids – or any cute kid – but rarely do they love a candid of themselves. Why? Because candids sometimes expose us looking like a fool and we’re better than foolishness. We’ve learned how to pose, after all. We’re educated, successful, accomplished, respectable, and refined. As we mature, we tend to see ourselves from an inflated point of view.
So let’s get really candid, shall we? Saying you love Jesus is great. Truly. It sounds good and it looks good, but I’ll warn you – the faith life Jesus called us to live is one of humility. No studio sessions, just humble candids. And being seen humbled is similar to being seen as a fool. If living out your dedicated love for Jesus means thinking less of yourself and occasionally looking foolish, can you do it?
Sometimes we plan to do things for someone else and other times Jesus chooses the plan and the someone else for us. Sometimes we choose an opportunity to serve – a mission, a ministry, a cause – and other times our humble Savior ‘nudges’ us into straight up servanthood. Hypothetically, sometimes 600 VBS children and parents make a mess at your place of business and you know for a fact that it’s not your sole responsibility to clean it up (particularly in the last hour before you close – the hour you spend finishing up your ‘real job’ responsibilities) and you find yourself smack dab in the middle of a real life candid. What will be revealed about your true personality? What dark thoughts will you be thinking as you discontentedly grab and fill trash bags? (Hypothetically, of course.) Can you love Jesus happily even when it’s not fair, when you’re caught off guard, unprepared, and tired? Will you find yourself thinking that if living out loud in loyal love for Jesus means looking like a trash-collecting fool, well…you’re out. You’ll be the one to choose the candid moments of humility, thank you very much.
Maybe I recently saw myself in a candid moment. Maybe I didn’t look my best. Hypothetically, as I mentioned. But my kids, on the other hand…what a priceless picture. They were helping happily. Nothing had been promised for their work. It wasn’t glamorous to move chairs or empty trashcans. They wouldn’t be recognized for sweeping up the crumbs of hungry people, but they weren’t concerned with any of these things, nor were they concerned with whether or not they were too good or too skilled to serve. Help was needed and they were capable. And willing. That was the priceless part. That’s a candid to treasure.
Life is now. Life is happening in the moments when you’re unprepared. No one to comb the tangles before you say ‘cheese’. No white, toothy smiles free of spinach particles. We won’t always look our best living in humility. We won’t look professional being a servant. We won’t look accomplished and dignified doing the dirty work of Jesus living, but if we want to be truly grownup in our faith, we can better prepare ourselves by thinking like a kid. Live with abandon. Help like it’s your hobby. Love like a fool. Be willing no matter your paygrade. It’s a mindset of humility. And the result? Beautiful candids of a genuine, Jesus-loving heart.