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Posts Tagged ‘self image’

Big God

 

The small, golden statue sat immobile on my roommate’s shelf—its eyes boring into me while I studied, laughed with friends, and slept. When Victoria was away for more than a day or two, I spun her statue toward the wall—gratefully tossing a shirt or towel over its broad, grinning face.

I didn’t fault my friend for seeking meaning…for expressing her faith…for her belief in a religious system so unlike my own. But the miniature, man-made deity set my spiritual nerves on edge when we shared the same space.

As a young Christian with limited personal insight, I didn’t realize that I harbored my own set of little gods. Like a modern-day Rachel (Genesis 13), I covertly questioned the power of an unseen and inaudible Almighty God and–in an effort to feel more in control of my seemingly directionless life–I tucked away my personal idols for safekeeping—away from prying eyes.

While my friend proudly displayed her minor god, mine was disguised in the regular, day-to-day of young adult life. The lesser idols—a desire to please family or friends and an inward-facing, struggling self-image—were rarely noticed or, they adopted more acceptable labels. Rather than seeking approval? I was dedicated. Instead of severely limiting the food I ate? I had great self-control.

As the Father began to teach me about the woman I am in Christ, the shackles of unintentional idol worship started dropping off one by one. Slowly, year-by-year, I’ve begun to realize how big God really is.

He has healed miraculously. He has rescued regularly. He has protected inexhaustibly. My God is able!

There are still times I fashion God into my image—the picture of a small God smiling benignly as He sits idly by on a bookcase—and the worries, concerns, or priorities of this world threaten to grow into a something greater than they should be. Then? I return to the promises of scripture…prayer…the counsel of a trusted mentor. And I am reminded that a manufactured idol has never given its life for someone; a self-created god never offers peace.  Only Christ–the  One who left a tomb standing barren–is a big enough God to do these things.

Scripture and Questions for Reflection

Exodus 15:11

Who compares with you among gods, O God?
Who compares with you in power,
in holy majesty,
In awesome praises,
wonder-working God?

 

Complete this sentence.

*Complete this sentence.

“God is too small to take care of my (finances, children, health, ______________”).

*Is there an idol you’ve hidden away? Have you allowed any area of your life to have more value or importance than Jesus?

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eaglefly

The moment I heard the words filter through the radio of our crumb-sprinkled family car, my heart responded with a question?  Am I that woman?  The message resounded and I’ve been considering it for more than a week–long enough for me to admit that this is one of my day-by-day, moment-by-moment struggles.  It may be yours, too.

What is this self-imposed, self-focused, self-degrading habit we battle each day?  Perfectionism.

It afflicts co-workers, Bible study leaders, young mothers, old mothers, neighbors, and friends.  Always striving…she is the woman never quite satisfied with self.  And deep in her empty places she has somehow mistaken the desire for acceptance…approval…love for a twisted version of if-then. 

If I can just lose five more pounds then he’ll respect me.

If I earn this degree then I’ll finally believe I’m smart.

If I keep my house clean enough then I’ll know I’m a good housewife.

If  my children are at the top of their class then I can trust myself as a mother.

If I join one more church committee then God will know I’m a committed Christian.

 

But all of the if’s just end up as not enough.  There is always another goal…something else to prove…a feeling of not quite meeting the mark.

Why?  Because we’ve forgotten the mercy of His love, acceptance, and approval.   With Christ, there is an abundance of all our heart seeks.   The one who is Perfection has released us from the need to prove our goodness or worth.

We can stop striving, dear Friend.  Just belonging to Perfection is enough.

 

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.  (Col. 3:23-24)

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“I’ve become the invisible woman,” she said.  The other ladies in the group nodded knowingly.  Surprised at the shared sentiment, I wondered how each of them had arrived at a place of feeling unnoticed…inconspicuous…unseen.  Had their identities been swallowed by motherhood?  Lost to unhealthy marriages?  Buried beneath daily demands and responsibilities?

The conversation prompted thoughts of Christ’s compassion and concern for those who lived unnoticed, invisible lives.  Lepers. Tax collectors.  Women.  Though each was an outcast, Christ spent the majority of his time ministering to the very people considered unworthy of his attention.

His gentle touch healed those slowly rotting away and dying for want of human contact.  His words of life transformed corrupt and greedy men into selfless givers of truth and hope.  His Creator’s heart acknowledged the value of the undervalued.

With Christ, dear friend, there is no invisibility.  Seek his healing touch.  Immerse yourself in the truth of his life-giving, transformational words.  Remember that your value and worth were ultimately expressed in his sacrifice on the cross.

Today’s Action Step: 

Embrace the truth.  Put your name where the words the world are written.

“For God so love the world that he gave his one and only son…”  John 3:16

Scripture for Reflection

“For we are God’s workmanship…”  Ephesians 2:10

Recommended Reading

Captivating Revised & Updated: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's SoulCaptivating by Stasi Eldridge

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

 

 

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As I stand in the checkout line, I can’t help but notice the magazines perched at eye level.  Hollywood movie stars grace their covers with airbrushed good looks and perfectly sculpted bodies.  I find myself feeling insecure, imperfect, and unacceptable—just as I did years ago.  It’s been a long road to a healthy self-image and I remind myself not to wander down that path again.

Like most children, my first perception of self originated at home.  And, though my mother offered words of encouragement, my step-father’s abusive language only polluted a fragile self-image with terms like ugly, worthless, and stupid.  Without realizing it, I began collecting those labels as if they belonged to me and used them–against myself.  Ugly.  Worthless. Stupid.

I believed the lie.

Like Alice in Wonderland, my self-image kept shrinking and shrinking—even as I grew.  There wasn’t a magic cure to be found.  All of the rabbit holes were dead ends.  Listed on the honor roll?  I should have done better.  Homecoming queen?  The other girls all looked prettier.  A lot of friends?  Maybe, but not a boyfriend.  I was too skinny and uninteresting.

Over the next several years and even into my young adult life, I tried to earn favor and recognition from others.  Always striving; but never quite attaining.  When I looked in the mirror I saw imperfection.  Why?  Because my self-image was based on the perceptions of others.  I failed to view myself through Christ’s eyes.

As I matured in faith, the truth of scripture began eliminating the lies I’d accepted as reality.  Ugly?  Scripture promises that the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit… is of great worth in God’s sight.  (1 Peter 3:4Worthless?  No.  Instead, I have been adopted as his [daughter] through Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 1:4-5Stupid?  It doesn’t matter because God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.(1 Corinthians 1:27).

Maybe you’ve accepted the negative labels others have tossed in your direction.  But, listen to what God says about you.  Instead of allowing the world to determine your self-image, why not claim the assurances of the One in whose image you were made?

 

  • Scripture for ReflectionBut you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.  (1 Peter 2:9) 

 

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