Caution! This is very ‘question based’ blog post.
As a millennial christian making my way through life, am starting to find that many of the answers to life’s questions are found in ‘the beginning’. Its important that I use the word millennial because my generation saw the burst of media and digital technology. I believe my generation are the first true ‘global citizens’. In other words, so far we have had the most exposure to different cultures , countries, opinions, experiences, and whatever else it is that social media and other digital communications expose us to! To put it frankly, millennials have had the most interference on how we see ourselves and others. We have had the biggest serving of different bits and bobs on our plates and so, naturally, we have questions!
Why do people generally feel the pressure to find a mate? (When I find myself in debates with peers who think marriage and child bearing is the ‘end all, be all’ of life) Well, in the beginning God declares, ‘Its not good for man to be alone, I will make a suitable helper for him.’(Genesis 2:18)
And of course, one of my biggest questions in life; why can’t I just get through life pursuing my hobbies and an active social life? Must we all work for a living? (Yes, this millennial still questions life on this level, especially when my goals are ‘delayed’.) Why are people ambitious and creative and talented? (When I see busybodies desperate to contribute). How do they mastermind these inventions? (When Google Maps saves the day.) Well the simple answer is God intended for us to work. (Gen 1:28). He intended for us to contribute to what he had created. The verse says before he gave them the ‘mandate to work’, he blessed them, meaning he empowered and equipped them to do whatever it is that we see them being good at. So your favourite singer is not to be worshipped as God but more as some one who is stewarding what they have been gifted with. Neither is your pastor! (Ehem, a post for another day)
Back to the self image question then. How did God intend for us to to see and think of ourselves?
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”So God created mankind in his own image,in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26 – 28)
I believe this verse contains the holy grail of self image for us all, both consciously and unconsciously! Let’s unpack. God makes man in his image, in his likeness, ‘so that they may rule..’ He declares in whose image man is made and connects man’s image to man’s purpose. He intended our image to be the basis from which we reign.
So why is how we perceive ourselves important? Because it’s connected to whatever purpose God intended for us to fulfil in His grand scheme of things. In the previous post, wikipedia defines ‘self image’ as, ‘the ideas one has of one’s ability, appearance and personality.’ So could it be that if we stray from God’s version of ability, appearance and personality for us, we also stray from his purpose for us? Could it be that if we take on the world’s version of ability, appearance and purpose, we take on the worlds’s purpose for us? Think about it for a second. Have we switched lanes?
Some parts of our self image are not so hard to work out. People who enjoy sciences tend to become doctors or engineers. Creatives become tech innovators and designers. So I suppose life is set up in a way that we tend to discover and build on a great deal of that ‘blessing’/gifting/talent . We are afforded many avenues which allow us a degree of self discovery like family, education systems, etc. So I thank God that in some ways, some answers become available to us. But what about the other facets of life affected by our self image like beauty, sexuality, emotions. What about these other facets of relationships and creation?
The dilemma with self image is its not enough to discover your ability/ gifting. Thats just one facet. Your gifting is imbedded in your appearance and personality too! So even the world’s most gifted surgeon can have a poor self image and that could affect his/her overall contribution. Say you discover your gifted at painting and the whole world agrees you are a fantastic painter, but you don’t feel you look the part? You grew up being bullied because you didn’t fit society’s norm of beauty. Because of this, you never attend your own exhibitions and rely heavily on your agent/gallery doing the social heavy lifting for you, the press interviews, the photographs, etc. You become jealous of your art peers because unlike you, they look and act the part. This is not what you want for yourself. You want to be out there along side your painting, explaining your inspiration, your process, your passion. But you don’t feel good enough. You believe your appearance will take away from your art. Your reputation becomes that of a reclusive painter. Despite a piece being out there being celebrated there’s a whole other side of you that you feel will not be equally celebrated. Yet you were meant to be a package deal.
Life can be like this, in so many ways we can feel confident and yet at the same time, that we don’t measure up. The world bullies you about your appearance but at the same time appreciates your painting, creating a war between your gifting and appearance. So an inner war between ability and appearance and personality begins and shatters this package into so many fragments that our contributions or purpose is never quite complete.
‘Yup the girl can sing, she really hits those notes doesn’t she?!’ ‘But she has the biggest lips,and she is only 5’1, its so distracting. Lets just put her at the back of the other girls where we can hear her but where we can’t see her.’ And yet all this is you! Its all you! The big lips, the 5’1 and the great voice. This is how God presented you to do your reign!
If you think you these internal wars we can’t seem to escape, came from nowhere , think again! They can be traced all the way back to the beginning with Adam and Eve!
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