September 30, 1997
Do you remember reading about Louie the cat with obnoxious habits? First she tore out her hair in two strips down her back. After she got tired of that, she began looking at her reflection in shiny surfaces. Soon she was fighting with it and howling night and day. Her owner finally had to cover every surface in their home that allowed the cat to see her own image.
I know what it is like to fight with my reflection. Bed-head mornings, black-eyed tired, zits, and “what? Is-that-another-wrinkle?” can keep me almost howling in front of the mirror, sometimes with laughter, sometimes in dismay. However, I am learning that what I see in the mirror is not the most important image to be concerned about.
One of the first things I learned as a new Christian is that God called me to be changed into the image of His Son. That goal impressed me so much that I wanted to cooperate with God. However, I soon discovered that this new image was easier to set as a goal than actually define or reach. First, I had to discover what Jesus is really like. Along with that, there was the seeming impossible task of getting rid of the things in me that did not conform to His likeness.
Difficult as it sounds, this goal ought to be a universal. The Bible says that God made everyone of us “in his own image” both male and female. However, because we tend to go against the will and character of God, we toss mud on the likeness He intended we reflect. We have difficulty seeing it in each other and it prevents us from clearly seeing Him.
As I studied this concept of self-image, I began to realize that I could not think well of myself when I was not living up to the lofty ideal for which God created me. Something deep inside was not satisfied with me — no matter where or when I encountered myself, like Louie, I was fighting with what I saw.
Thankfully, God knows the cure to a low or sensitive self-view. He began to show me that although I saw myself as a sinner, the new reality of Christ in my life was beginning to change that image. I was “a new creation” and, as 2 Corinthians says, “the old has gone, the new has come!” He wanted me to stop looking at myself from my muddied perspective and start seeing myself in Christ, as He sees me.
My self-image has also been affected by the treatment of others. Lack of love or consideration, as well as unkindnesses, leave holes in my esteem but God says those things do not need to shape my image anymore. I do not have to be the person others try to shape by their words or abuses. If I insist on looking at myself through their eyes, my view will be distorted, like looking at my face in a coffee spoon.
In Christ, I am a new person. I am forgiven and washed clean of sin, given new life and new ways to think. Right now, I may not be all that I will be, but God is at work and the Bible says He will finish what He started in me (Philippians 1:6). When I enter eternity, all vestiges of my old self will be gone. What an encouragement to change and grow, to stop basing my way of life on what I used to be or how people used to treat me. Because of Christ and the certainty of God’s promises, now I am shaped by my future, not my past.
Those days when I act like Louie are becoming fewer and farther between thanks to the marvelous grace of God. To cure me, He knew better than fill my house with magic mirrors or let me find a restored self-image in temporary things. Instead, He is at work changing the person who is looking at the images.