Image of child

Image: more than skin deep

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an innocent sounding game on Facebook. It was entitled “What does your little girl version look like?” Before I put too much though into it, I pushed the button to play along.

The computer-generated image filled my screen within seconds, and I was frozen. It invoked a visceral response and left me feeling something I had not felt in years.

The image that Facebook conferred upon the “little girl version” of me was the beautiful little girl in leather.  Yes, that is who I had wanted to be when I was young! In reality, the “little girl version” of me is the one with fuzzy short hair. That picture was taken a few months after my head was shaved for the second time due to surgery. A smile can hide a thousand insecurities. Admittedly I probably have an unhealthy attachment to hair. Years ago, someone who didn’t know me very well said to me “You must have been a beautiful little girl!” My reply was something along the lines of “no, I was bald”.

In the Nursing profession there is a diagnosis labeled “body image disturbance.” In a nutshell, this culminates in a person feeling shame, disgust, depression or hate of their body. I have met many people with some degree of this; I have also fought this personally for much of my life. Social media and Hollywood send messages, both in real time, and subliminally that propagate unrealistic ideas of image. And humans are so distracted by the eye; it is tempting to believe the lies that bombard the visual sensory pathways. Insecurities further challenge the knowledge of being made in the image of God, igniting a battle in the mind. We even see this occurring in the first few chapters of Biblical history with the exchange between Eve and the serpent.

I look back at my true historical image and am struck by the fact that every time I desired to be the little girl in the leather, I was telling God that I didn’t agree with His image for me. Instead of body image disturbance, perhaps it was a God image disturbance. Although I have been a Christian for my entire life, I must admit this had not crossed my mind until the leather girl version popped up in my feed. It was certainly the image that I had always desired, but it had never been thrown in my face with such accuracy.

We are all made in the image of God, yet we all look different. We all have the Creator’s fingerprints on our DNA and there is such a variety of differences. Skin color, eye color, hair color, handedness, stature, abilities and even our individual likes and dislikes.  Yet the Holy Spirit indwells in all of us, and God calls us His children. Truly, God has called each of us according to His purpose.

So, what does this mean? First and foremost, God loves you and me. He also loves variety! It is beneficial for the soul and the mind to contemplate the truth of being made in His image and to remember that image is more than skin deep. There may be times when your feelings appear to outweigh this knowledge and at those times, I pray that you remember, “feelings don’t have brains”[1] God gave you a beautiful brain to control and guide your feelings. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.[2]

[1] Patsy Clairmont

[2] Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

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