If we're going to talk about self-image, this is a question we cannot escape. It's not an easy one because sometimes it means sorting through a lifetime of labels that we may have allowed to define us. And, as Christians, it means measuring our thoughts and self-images according to the Word of God and allowing the Truth to define us, not what we see, think, or feel.
The definition of self-image is:
"the idea, conception, or mental image one has of oneself."
Who are you?
Are you living according to what the Bible says and how God sees you or according to labels that have been put on you? It's time to explore...
Everyone has experienced a label. Whether we’ve put it on ourselves or it’s been slapped on by someone else, we go through seasons perceived as something. I’ve had many labels over the years (before I started serving God and also after). Many of which God never intended for me.
[Angry. Rebellious. Divorced. Insecure. Depressed.]
the list goes on and on...
Not all were bad...
[Pastor's kid. Friend. New Yorker.]
yet each has shaped who I am today.
Unfortunately, for a long time, I was identified by those labels rather than finding my confidence solely in Christ.
To some degree, we are all products of our environment. The one who grew up in a small rural town with a mother and a father will have been influenced differently than the young girl who grew up in the projects with a single parent. Even as Christians who study the same Bible.
Let’s face it. Labels dictate how we feel. And our feelings are real. However, without the intentionality of going by what the Bible says, which is living by faith, we can go through life in an incredibly distorted manner. I’ve had skewed years. Decades in fact. Many labels, shelved on many aisles that have landed me in the bottom of the bargain pile, confused and despaired.
I liken it to a labeled product. Sometimes we try to peel the label and get most of it off, leaving sticky residue. The residue becomes dirty and gross and in order to remove it, we need a razor blade to do the job. At times, it was left on for so long that a permanent mark remains. You know, like those products in the clearance section at Target. Multiple labels and price tags slapped on top of another. No one bothered to take the time to remove the label because they saw the value had gone down. What might have once been $19.99 is now at the bottom of a barrel in the dollar bin.
Have you ever felt that way? Once you were beautifully on display. You felt brand new. People admired you and spoke highly of you. Even telling others to come “check you out.” But after time, because your worth was based on what people saw or invested in, and it didn’t seem to happen the way it did for the other brand new products, you got pushed to the back of the shelf behind the newer, prettier things. In time, you were forgotten. Labels got slapped on with the hopes to get rid of you.
Maybe with a different price, you’ll be gone.
Or maybe you never felt beautiful at all because people labeled you as otherwise. And years later, you’re still living according to that label which was incorrectly stuck onto you.
How many people have been shelved because of the choice to live according to the wrong label? People who sincerely love God and want to be used by Him but are shelved because of incorrect labels. And after a while, pushed behind the other products only to collect dust until its expiration date. Sometimes it can be a sin issue; sometimes it’s that we can't be used effectively until we find ourselves in Christ.
In today’s Stress Point reading, Sarah encouraged us to ask ourselves the question – Who Am I? A question that I have been faced with often in the last few years. Probably one I avoided for a long time, too. When I began to really examine my faulty self-image, my eyes were opened to the many labels that had been put on me over the years (whether by others or by myself). And after I began to really embrace God as a Majestic King and become confident as His daughter, I knew it was time to tear off the labels and be who God created me to be.
Who are you?
I love love love the fact that Sarah hones in on a name or characteristic of God in every one of her chapters in Stress Point. It’s essential for us to know who God is. How else will we be able to trust that His Word is true? Those are the words to be labeled by. Once we know who He is we can allow Him fully into our hearts and live according to who HE says we are...
Daughters of the Majestic King.
Trust me when I tell you, I have not arrived...
I'm very much still "under construction."
But I take comfort in these verses...
(the words that inspired the title of this blog)
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:12-14
Take some time to read some of the Scriptures that Sarah included in this chapter on self-image. And then consider the labels that you have been put on you. Which are you living according to? It may take a little while to really know. It may be uncomfortable or even painful. Sometimes truth can hurt. But as we grab hold of God's Truth and hide it in our hearts, we will be the women He intended us to be. We're all works in progress but be encouraged. God is at work. Open your heart to Him.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. - Philippians 1:6
Who are you?