Devotion in Motion: “Picture perfect” life is not the goal

Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16 (NIV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad

We have a lot of babies at our country church. I’m not just saying that.  We really pretty much have wall-to-wall babies. When you’re a preacher, it’s a wonderful thing to have a lot of babies in your church. Babies make your church grow — because every infant that’s born is another potential follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. And when you have young couples with babies, they attract other young couples with babies to your congregation. Any way you look at it, it’s wonderful.

I love all the babies at my church. All of them will come to me and let me carry them around and talk to them. That’s because kids are really smart. They have built-in radar that allows them to pick up on the folks who really love them and are crazy about them.

Over the past quarter century, I’ve been to the hospital lots of times to help birth the new babies. I’ll tell you, I’ve seen customs change over the years. These babies now have their pictures beamed all over the world before they even get their first bath. When I go home from the hospital after a birth, nobody asks me what the new baby looks like. Everybody has already seen it via the Facebook photo somebody snapped with a cell phone.

I ran across a blog entry the other day written by a young mother who had just given birth to her first child. She was very aggravated with herself.  After seeing photos that other families had published online, she realized she had not gotten dressed up while she was still in the hospital and didn’t have any glamour shots taken of her with the new baby. In her defense, she had serious complications during the birth of her son and had undergone surgery. Still, she lamented how upset she was that she’d never have any “good” photos of the events surrounding the birth of their first child.

I’m sympathetic to the young mother’s plight, but, in my book, it’s not really that big of a deal. My parents don’t have any “good” photos of my mom’s hospital stay when I was born. In fact, there was only one photo taken of me when I was at the hospital when I was born. A lady from the hospital came by and took a black and white Polaroid shot of my mother and me. After waiting the three minutes it took to develop, she peeled off the negative (which was covered with with carcinogenic chemicals) and threw that part away. Then she wrote on the back of the photo with a blue ballpoint pen:  “Best Wishes to Johnnie Cash from Sallie Reed.”

I’ve always thought that it was a very nice thing for her to have written. Life is a pretty hard struggle at times. It’s nice when folks are cheering you on right from the beginning.

Now, please understand, my parents weren’t neglecting me by not taking any photos. I think this was just “Standard Operating Procedure” 50 years ago. People just didn’t have as much “stuff” back then. My parents didn’t have ANY pictures of them taken when they were born. And we all turned out okay. We’ve gone on to have happy and productive lives — in spite of the fact there are no professionally done photographs of our first minutes on the planet.

So, dear mamas, I’m writing all that to say this: Don’t ever think that your whole life rests on the proper celebration of just one day, and that if you don’t get it right the rest of your life is a wreck. I always tell school kids, “The prom is a nice evening, but it’s not the meaning of life. Sometimes I have a Tuesday afternoon that is just as nice as all-the-proms-I-ever-went-to rolled into one.”

So don’t bemoan the imperfections of your big celebrations. Don’t sweat everything so much. Just be sure to enjoy and celebrate the happiness that comes each and every day.

And, please, be sure to take an inventory of all the resources and blessings God has given to you. I have so many happy memories of growing up in my family — the family that only had one hospital photo. With all the good things that people have now, you’d think that folks would be happier than they are. How about you?

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 26 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 20) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the house cats hide under the china cabinet when toddlers come over to play.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to

1 Comment

  1. AMEN!!! There are too many parents out there working WAY too hard to make things perfect for their kids (and themselves) and they really need to cut themselves some slack. I look rough in all three of the sets of birth photos taken when my children were born… no contacts, no makeup, hair all over… but guess what? The HAPPINESS of those three days override the appearance of mommy. The smiles and pictures of family on hand for the events are so much more meaningful.

Comments are closed.