Here’s an interesting question: What would you like to put in storage? It started out as a fun writing prompt that went somewhere I didn’t expect it to go!
I got an immediate visual of a storage unit packed full of towers of boxes and furniture. I could almost feel the squeeze of a lot of stuff in a small space. But when I think about it for myself, I know that we downsized quite a few years ago, and then when my mother-in-law came to live here in 2020 we downsized again. So I can’t really think of any “stuff” I’d put in storage – there’s not much left! It is a relief to not be bogged down by a full storage unit – I figured that much out for sure.
There are, however, parts of ME that I’d like to put in storage. Like lock it up tight and throw away the key kind of storage. The first one that came to mind is my critical “nature.” I just put that in quotes because it shouldn’t be in my nature anymore, right? I’m a new creation after all!
But it is. It’s still there.
I think that I’m not as critical of others as I used to be, and I hope I’m much faster to move from criticism to compassion. But I am still consistently critical of … me. My inner critic blaring, I say things to myself constantly that I would never say to anyone else.
Today, though, I started to wonder, what does that say about me? Maybe it says that I am not very secure in my understanding of what it means to be created in the image of God. That I am an image bearer.
What does it mean to be an image bearer? It means just what it says – it looks like the original. A photo? An image of the original. An exact copy, of something or someone worth remembering. So being created in the image of God means that we image God. The way we live our lives, speak our minds (or don’t), feel our feelings, think our thoughts – all those things should call attention to the brilliance of the glory of God. But guess what?
My sin nature wars against God’s image.
I absolutely must acknowledge my sinfulness before Him. And when I do, look what happens: “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) So who do I think I am to continue beating myself up for things God has already forgiven? Sometimes there are consequences that go on beyond forgiveness, to be sure. But the forgiveness has still happened, and I am still cleansed.
Here’s a thought. If being overly self-critical negates seeing myself as forgiven (and I think it does), then I need to STOP IT. I must believe – about me, not just you and you and you – that I’m forgiven and that God sees me clean – white as snow, in fact.
Living in the light of this truth? Really “getting” the magnitude of the forgiveness he has graciously granted me? It would, I think, change everything. Because then I can acknowledge my sin, but not from a position of shame.
God never shames us.
If we’re hearing shame messages from ourselves, those are not coming from God. More importantly, those messages obscure the truth. I come before him a sinner, day after day, and he forgives me and stands me up and wipes my face, day after day. He sends me out then – to bear his image – and my greatest prayer is that I will be obedient and GO, and that my life will reflect the brilliant glory of God.
And I know I’m not even close. But somehow defining it this way, exploring it, has been really helpful. I’m still chewing on it all, honestly, and there may be more to come on this subject. It’s made me see that when I berate myself, I am not reflecting God. I am looking only at myself in the mirror, and even that image is very distorted.
To truly be God’s image bearer, I have to stop looking at my own image, for it is not MY image that is to be remembered.
I realize that I can turn away from the darkness and lies in that mirror (self-hate), and back to face the only One whose image is worth reflecting (God-love).
Note that the opposite of self-hate is not self-love. Self needs to GO and be replaced with God’s glorious love.
I’ll end with some beauty. This is what God did when he created me, and you:
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.”
(Psalm 139:13-16, NLT)
Here’s a last bit of truth that I so easily forget, because honestly it’s hard to imagine this:
“For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
(Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)
Be kind to yourself, my friend. Be humble and be kind. Reflect the image of God – not just from the outside, but even from within.
Wow! That is powerful. God tells us love is patient and kind, but we can miss the lesson when loving ourselves.
Right?? This was a pivot point for me. Thanks for reading and commenting!
So needed to read this. I so tend to overthink things and be critical of myself. I need to remember who I am now that Jesus lives in me.
I totally get it Nellie! Thanks for reading and commenting!
How many times do we need these words banged into our brains? Thanks for giving us another time.
Allll the times! Thanks for reading 😊