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Roxane B. Salonen, Published November 01 2013

Living Faith: Soggy soccer photo offers lesson in trust

Any parent out there knows what it takes to get it all done: the homework, the making sure the kids get where they need to be – and back again – and the soccer photos.

Oh, the soccer photos. It seems it’s just one more thing to do. I rarely order more than just the team 5-by-7, but tradition rules, and every year, come what may, we bust our tails to get our kids to the photo shoot so they don’t become erased from their own history.

This year, I received a note from our youngest son’s coach that photos would be handed out at the last Friday practice of the season. Knowing said child’s record for keeping track of things, I made a note on my to-do list about photo disbursement.

I checked the list numerous times that Friday, firming things up with a mental reminder, but by the time practice rolled around, plans had changed and Dad had been put on soccer pick-up duty.

In the muddle, the very thing I’d hoped to avoid happened – the photo ended up dropped somewhere on the practice field and was quickly forgotten.

All weekend, through pouring rain, it sat, and soaked, and sat some more. I thought about asking our littlest soccer player if he’d brought his photo home but other priorities pulled me away.

Then on Monday, our little squirt waltzed into the van after school with something in his hand – something soggy.

“Hey Mom, guess what? I forgot my photo at practice the other day, but I found it today during recess!”

He seemed so proud, so happy at his good luck. I stared at the drooping cardboard, the mist-filled plastic wrap, in dismay. The photo undoubtedly would be a complete loss.

“Oh my, what a mess,” I said. But I had to try, so, ever so gingerly I began peeling away the layers of wet materials and finally reached the photo.

It was damp, but, unbelievably, intact. The faces were not melted away, nor water-damaged to the point of no return.

I put the photo on the van dash to dry, and within a short amount of time the picture came to life with only a corner showing any evidence of its weekend rain bath.

And there in the middle of the photo was my guy, smiling big and hopeful among his teammates.

Sometimes, it takes me a while to get the messages I know God wants to share with me, but this one hit me fast and hard: “Trust in me.”

Because just like that unopened, messed-up, rained-out photo, at times my life has felt a bit trampled on, out of sorts and potentially beyond repair.

Sometimes it’s easy to want to give up, to just say, “You know, I’m not even going to try to open this. It’s a wreck; it’s pointless.”

It’s hard to push through the perplexing moments, the difficult days, the challenging years, and yet you do, because maybe, just maybe, not everything’s been ruined.

The photo reminded me of two things: to have hope like a child, and that God can take what seems permanently damaged and patch it up, make it almost brand new.

Oh, it might end up with a little stain on it somewhere, or maybe a ripped corner or two. But you know what? That’s what reminds you that it’s – well, that you’re – real.

And somewhere in the middle of it all, if you look closely, you’ll see a child of God smiling hopefully, doing her best, just wanting to be loved, and finding she’s been loved plenty all along.

Roxane B. Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email roxanebsalonen@gmail.com