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Brianna Wallace outside LCU Starbucks

"A Blurry Chair," A Spiritual Reflection by the Student Editor for The DusterToday, Brianna Wallace

((The Dustertoday is the Lubbock Christian University online newspaper that exists to serve the students, faculty, staff, and friends of the university. The staff of The Duster strives to provide fair, balanced and accurate news coverage of topics that directly affect members of the LCU community and to do so in a fun and creative way.

Brianna Wallace, the student editor for The Dustertoday, is a senior English major with a minor in psychology. Brianna wrote “A Blurry Chair” as a reflection on God’s view of our lives, and how his perception differs from out own. In her profile for The Duster, Brianna said, “Part of my journey in coming to LCU has been learning about myself, but more importantly learning about who God is and who He wants me to be. I am thankful for the place He has put me, and thankful for the opportunities He gives me to serve and bring glory to Him.”

To read more stories from students on The Dustertoday staff, visit www.thedustertoday.com.))

 

"A Blurry Chair"

by Brianna Wallace, Student Editor for The Dustertoday

I have never wanted a picture of a chair so badly.

I was standing at the back of the room on my tiptoes, trying to see the chair through dozens of tourists. They all milled around, whispering or speaking in low voices as they snapped photos of the room, the furniture, the paintings. A kid shoved in front of me to lean against the railing and reach his arm across into the forbidden space before his mom snapped her fingers and pulled him away. Our tour guide, a balding replica of Barney Fife, spoke in a shrill voice about the historical significance of the room.

“Now this here is the room where our founding fathers met to set in place the regulations that would govern our country. This is the place where they met to convene the Constitutional Convention and decide…”

I tuned him out, instead nudging Dad and whispering “I want a picture of the chair.”

“Washington’s chair?”

“Yeah, the famous chair. I’ve always wanted to see that chair, I want a picture with it”

The tour guide was still talking, but Dad and I were conspiring. There was no way I would be able to get a picture of the chair with so many people crowding in front of the railing. We were already squished in the back of it the room as it was, one of the disadvantages of being tall. People who considered themselves short took up space in the front, somehow still managing to obscure my view. Although I could see the chair if I stood on my toes and tilted my head, I couldn’t stay in that position long enough to get a clear shot before someone jostled their way in front of me.

“Just go up there and take a picture of it,” my brother hissed from the other side.

“I’m tall, I’ll block everyone else’s view.”

“So block their view!”

Mom shushed us, but leaned in and whispered “Cam and I will walk out with the group, you two stay behind and get the picture. We’ll make sure Officer Fife doesn’t see you.”

We shared a family nod and assumed expressions of complete engrossment, waiting for the tour guide to finish talking. He told the group about the significance of the chair; how George Washington sat in it during the convention and how it came to represent the rising power of the United States. The headrest, carved of dark wood, depicted a half-sun creeping behind the horizon. The tour guide recounted Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote regarding the chair; “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I... know that it is a rising...sun.” We were standing in the Assembly Room at Independence Hall, I could not take my eyes off of that chair. Having heard the quote before, I thought the chair was the perfect symbol for the hope our founding fathers had in their fledgling nation.

Having finally finished his talk, the tour stood at the entryway and motioned for the group to exit. Dad and I let Mom and Brother leave the room while we stayed in the corner of the room, pretending to examine something intently on the floor. I was so worried the tour guide was going to notice our delay and do something horrible; arrest us or throw us out or something.  My hands were shaking as I pulled out my phone to take a picture. Calm down! You’re taking a picture, not the chair itself! Luckily, a kid took that opportunity to bolt into the hallway, eliciting a shout of protest and warning from the tour guide, who dashed after him. Dad and I were alone with the chair.

I stepped up to the railing that was finally clear of people, leaned over, and took the much coveted snapshot of George Washington’s chair. Beside me, Dad snapped a couple photos with the camera. I could hear the tour behind us start to approach from the hallway, but I wasn’t finished yet.

“Quick! Get me with the chair!” I hissed, smiling and leaning my back against the railing as Dad took the picture, relying on flash-photography that was strictly forbidden everywhere in the museum. Chuckling quietly, we slipped out of the room right as another tour started to file in. We had to speed walk to join the stragglers of our own group as they explored the rest of Independence Hall.

It was later that night before I could go through my photo gallery and look at all of the pictures I had taken of our tour. I wanted to post them on Facebook and share with my world what an amazing experience I’d had touring such a historically important place. To my disappointment, the few pictures I had managed to take of the chair were grainy and out of focus. The chair had been the highlight of the day! It was what I had wanted to capture more than anything, and it was blurry. Should I post it anyway? After a quick search on Google I discovered much clearer, more artistic pictures of the chair. Should I just post one of those and explain that I had been there? Should I post both? Then everyone would see what a horrible picture mine was in comparison. My pictures didn’t show the dark wood gleaming in the setting sunlight streaming through a nearby window pane. My picture was taken hurriedly with shaking hands before a cranky tour guide could kick us out of the room. My picture didn’t have the perfect filter with the right saturation to bring out the brass fasteners on the seat, or an interesting angle that had the carved sun in focus and the rest of the chair slightly blurred. My picture was blurry, grainy, and thoroughly unimpressive.

At this point, I had to have some internal reflection. To post or not to post? A picture I saved from the internet would definitely give people a better look at the chair, but it wouldn’t prove that I’d seen it in person. It wouldn’t give me the opportunity to explain why the picture was blurry. I wouldn’t be able to tell my story of how Dad and I lingered in the room, conspiring with Mom and Brother to stay behind and snap the shot. Sure, I’d have a better picture, but it wouldn’t be mine. After much internal coaxing, I posted my own photo of the chair.

So why am I telling you this? Why bother explaining about our tour guide from Mayberry, our whispered plots in the back of the room, a hurried snapshot of a chair in a room that ended up being too blurry to be anything special. Because sometimes we view our lives the same way I viewed my chair picture; out of focus, blurry, unimpressive. Looking around, I saw other pictures that were much better, much clearer, and much more attractive than mine was. Any of these would have portrayed the chair with much more clarity than mine did. But they weren’t my picture. Sometimes we look around and see lives that seem so much better, so much happier, so much more exciting than ours does. We compare our blurry, hurried, grainy lives to the lives of those around us. Compared to us, they have the perfect lighting, pose, and angle that makes their life look impressive. We use a special filter when viewing the lives of others more favorably than our own; ignorance. We filter out all of the things we don’t know about them and only see this wonderfully rosy picture of what we imagine to be a perfect life.

But you know what? That’s not the case. Everyone has their blurry moments, their hurried pictures, and their boring angles. We just don’t know what they are. We don’t know them. We see them through that filter. Remove the filter of ignorance by getting to know someone and, ironically, you can actually see them more clearly. Maybe they won’t have the picture perfect life you originally thought, but you’ll get to know their story. You will learn that although their chair picture isn’t the best one ever taken, it has a story that is unique. Your life is more beautiful than you believe. Be willing to embrace your story, complete with its blurriness. God made us all unique, but He did not make us perfect. We try to portray perfection, when we need to instead find our perfection in Him. We see the blurry photos, God sees the story behind them and loves us anyway. Whoa there. That’s awfully deep. It’s just a picture of a chair! Yes, indeed it is. But sometimes a picture of a chair can teach us things about ourselves, those around us, and our Creator. So maybe it is just a picture of a chair. But my chair picture taught me to embrace the blurriness of my life and take it to Him. It showed me that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved. I don’t have to have the best lighting and a clever angle to have a beautiful, somewhat quirky story to tell. I am loved by my Creator, in spite of my blurriness. Perhaps even because of it. And that is why a blurry picture of a chair matters.