The Power of the Before and After

I love a good before and after.  Not when it comes to makeovers involving fashion or beauty or hair – the women may have amazing “after” results, but knowing it’s only because they had the help of a designer, makeup artist, or hair stylist takes away some of the magic for me.  I usually feel sorry for the women too, because if they are anything like me they will never be able to duplicate those results by themselves or afford to keep shopping the styles that made them look thinner… curvier… taller.  Those before & after shots don’t really interest me.

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But if you are talking about gardening, organizing, cleaning, crafting, or creating, a good transformation shown through before & after photos will always suck me in.  Sometimes all I have to do is see a teaser headline on the cover of a magazine – Look inside to see how we transformed an ugly one-bedroom dump into a home Robin Leach would be proud to showcase! – and I’m hooked.

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Yes, I realize that these homes are just as staged and photoshopped as those women are.  I know that no one (at least nobody I know) goes out and only buys only clothes, accessories, and baskets in one color scheme to make their closet look more organized.  I’m aware that some of the design changes featured are so impractical that the kids probably destroyed it the minute the photographer walked out the door.  But when I look at the before & after photos of one of those meticulously staged rooms, I see a miracle.  I see the creative solutions behind the change.  And I see the potential for small changes in my own home to make a major impact.

Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 10.56.15 AMThanks to these photos it’s become a habit of mine to take a before picture whenever I embark on a new project, and an after picture once it’s completed.  And I started to realize that without those photos I might forget where I started.  Once a project is finished the way it looked before begins to fade away from my memory.  Taking the before and after shots helps me to see the changes I’ve made in my home over the years, things that are pretty significant to me but that others might not notice.  It’s encouraging to see the side-by-side of my hard work, no matter how big or small the project.

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I can also take this idea of “before and after” and apply it to my life.  Every so often it occurs to me how differently I might have handled problems I’m faced with a year ago… five years ago… ten years ago.  It makes me wish that I could have taken a “snapshot” of myself before – before I grew up, before I moved out, before I got married, before I had kids, before I joined the Body of Christ.  I think it would be quite an encouragement to the “after” that I am today.  But while I can’t take an actual picture of the progress I’m making in life, I can make sure that I’m aware of those changes and I can continually work to keep making improvements to myself, just as I make improvements to my home.

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Looking at my before photos reminds me that there’s always room for improvement, always something that needs change – and looking at my after photos remind me of what I’ve been able to accomplish.  These photos work together, motivating me to keep striving for better – both in my home and in my life.

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