Ask any counselor worth his weight in toothpicks, and he will tell you that your self-image matters.
Walk into any bookstore, and you will find hundreds of books about building your self-confidence or improving your image.
Self-esteem improvement sells. A lot.
Why? Because we know that our self-image affects us in many ways.
You probably won’t act confidently with others if you primarily see yourself as broken and a mess.
And if you see yourself as amazing and God’s gift to humanity, you may be over-confident and come across as arrogant and cocky.
How we see ourselves and what we believe about ourselves (i.e., our self-image) is the filter through which we see the world around us.
So, not for a hot second am I denying the necessity or value of having a healthy self-image. The question, however, is how do we define healthy? And are there unhealthy things we do to prop up our self-image?
Here are some things to think through (and be honest):
- Do you spend an enormous amount of time working out?
- Do you invest way too much money in the latest and greatest fashions?
- Do you devote far too much time preening and grooming before a mirror every morning?
- Do you desperately need to be told by others how beautiful or handsome you are to feel good about yourself?
- Do you wrestle with shame over past or present mistakes and beat yourself up regularly, believing nobody can or should love you?
- And let’s get painfully real. Do you want to crawl into a hole to die when someone points out a growth opportunity (aka weakness) or some obvious physical or emotional flaw?
I love how honest young children are with others. Recently, a six-year-old was standing beneath me with a perfect shot up my nostrils. He laughed and yelled, “You’ve got a boogie up your nose!”
I was flying recently, and when I stood up, I experienced a public moment of flatulence (yes, I passed gas). Unfortunately, there was no hiding it or blaming the dog.
And here’s the thing, if my happiness is based on always projecting an image of perfection, then I’m in trouble.
I’m doomed if my joy is centered on always looking, sounding, and performing without blemishes or errors.
Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting you should look your worst, stop taking baths, or just let it rip whenever and wherever. To quote an old army commercial, “Be the best you can be.”
But I am suggesting you consider why you do what you do and why it sometimes matters too much.
- Are you driven by unfounded insecurities or irrational fear?
- Are you motivated by vanity, egotism, or self-centeredness?
- Are you riding a roller-coaster of highs and lows based on what you see in the mirror or by what others say or think about you?
Exercise. Yep. But do so reasonably.
Dress well. Sure. But do so sensibly.
Face your flaws (i.e., own them and commit to personal growth). But do so recognizing that you will never be flawless. Never.
Perfection on this side of eternity isn’t possible. And when it comes to your body, no matter what you do, you’re going to get older, wrinkled, less-hot, and more aware of your blemishes and defects. (Trust me. I know of what I speak.)
But listen…it’s okay. Nobody is as together as they pretend to be. And everyone is slowly deteriorating into unavoidable decay.
So, here’s the real issue: What does Jesus say about you?
What does He think? How does He feel about you?
Do you live for an audience of One, or are you striving only to impress others?
For the record, Jesus thinks you’re amazing. He delights in you. He’s proud of you. You matter more than you know to Him. And you don’t have to do anything to impress Him.
Jesus loves you without condition, and there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you any more or any less than He already does.
One more thing…
Because He loves you and wants the best for you, I can also promise you that God will strip away anything false you are clinging to that promotes posing (i.e., inauthenticity) in your life.
He knows that true and lasting security and healthy self-esteem come from understanding who you are in Him and because of Him.
Resting in your true loveliness is best experienced when you see yourself through His eyes.
And God thinks you’re stunning—inside and out—just the way you are right now.
Wonderful? Delightful? Magnificent? Yep. Unquestionably.
And this is reality because God sees you through the person of His Son, Jesus.
What might change in your life and mine if we woke up every day and remembered our incredible worth and value to the Father?
- Maybe that current zit on the end of my nose wouldn’t freak me out.
- Perhaps my present struggle with sin and my many imperfections wouldn’t depress me.
- Possibly my sometimes obvious emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual flaws wouldn’t send me into a tailspin.
You see, Jesus thinks you are awesome. Yes, you're still a work in progress (and always will be), but to Him, you're priceless.
You are loved, beautiful, and truly delightful in every way that matters.
“Our Savior is ever-present.
He delights over you with joy.
He quiets your heart through His unconditional love.
In fact, and this is incredible—
God actually sings and rejoices over you with joy!”
Zephaniah 3:17 (Bubna Paraphrase)