Driving to pre-school with my five-year-old one particularly grumpy morning, the conversation about God's Image happened to come up. My daughter said to me, (With teenage voice inflection), "Mom, there's this girl named Bella in my class. She's cuter than me, and I don't like it!" (At this moment, I refrained from saying, "Well, Bella does mean 'beautiful'".) Instead, I said, "You know, Amelia, God created you perfectly the way He wanted you to be. How do you think that makes God feel when you compare yourself to someone else and think they are better?" To which she responded, "Blah, blah, blah." I took a deep breath and decided to be Mommy instead of Pastor. So I said to her, "Amelia, I think you are the cutest five-year-old in the whole world!" And she said, "Just wait until you see Bella!" I cracked up. And my heart sank.
So that's where it begins. The horrible, grace-draining pastime of self comparison. I think it would do our souls well every day to look in the mirror and affirm the Imago Dei (Image of God) in each one of us. Not unlike the 1980's SNL skit - "I am good enough, smart enough, and gosh-darnit, people like me!" We could read from Genesis 1:27-29 "So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them....then God looked over all that he had made and saw that it was very good!"
It's overwhelming to think that I am made in God's image. Not only does that mean self-comparison is a complete waste of time - it also means that I have a whole lot of responsibility to live and love and shine as a reflection of my creator. Easier said than done, right?
But think of the problems that would be solved, the marriages saved, the countries that would be in a better spot if all of us acted as though there was actually truth to the fact that in each one lies God's reflection! From friendships to finances to fidelity, we get ourselves in trouble when we fail to believe that we are created and loved just for who we are.
It is when we don't believe that we are worthy in God's eyes that we begin to take things into our own hands. Our own hands grasp for power and control. Our own hands point us toward things that we wish would fill us up but actually leave that gaping hole in our heart bigger than it was to begin with. But when we live like we believe that we were created by One who loves us and fills us - we find out that gaping hole is exactly God-sized. And when we are filled with God - we overflow into the world.
Marianne Willimason sums it up much more eloquently:
"Our deepest feer is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are
powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."