An acquaintance died some time ago. It was not suicide, but it was close. She literally starved herself to death.
I used to see her jogging or walking, almost every day. In good weather or terrible, whether feeling well or suffering from the flu, nothing stopped her. She had to walk and run every morning and every afternoon. Meanwhile, she denied herself food. Family tried to intervene. Physicians tried to reason with her or treat her. But in the end, anorexia won. She died still harboring an image of herself that had virtually no contact at all with reality.
That woman, academically bright and possessing a high IQ, had been the victim of constant teasing as a child. She was overweight all the way through high school. Other students picked on her (sometimes mercilessly). Even her parents joked at her expense, her father calling her “my cute little fat doll.” And so, she was programmed to understand herself as others chose to define her.
Subconsciously, she decided to become someone else, someone that perhaps the world would accept and affirm (or, at least, would quit bullying). So she committed herself to exercise and a strenuous diet. For a while, she literally became beautiful. Stunning. Everyone could see it... except for her. When she looked in the mirror, she still saw “my cute little fat doll.” No matter how many heads she turned due to her attractiveness, she could not see that person. She had been trained to be ashamed of herself, to see in the mirror only a person she did not want to be. And so she moved from being lovely to being emaciated, from being healthy to no longer being at all. How is it that somewhere along the line no one said to her, “It is okay to be who and what you are – there is beauty in that”?
So, what about us? Who do we see when we look into the mirror? And that question has to do with things other than merely the physical. Do we see a person of worth, or do we see the reflection of someone who makes us feel shame? Do we see a person with potential, or do we see someone we feel just can’t match up alongside others? Do we see someone who is lovable, or do we see someone who feels condemned to isolation or loneliness? Do we see a spiritual being, or do we see someone we fear even God would not approve? There’s a verse in the epistles that we should memorize and repeat to ourselves once every morning and once every night. It articulates who we really are, who we should see when we look in the mirror. The verse says: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” (I John 1:3)
Such we are! You and I are God’s daughters and sons, as the verse states, recipients of a great love that God has bestowed upon us. God sees us as we are – human but holy and utterly loved. Sometimes we stumble and fall, but God sees that as we see puppies whose feet rush out from under them. We always want to pick them up and cuddle them. And so God views us. “How great a love God has bestowed on us...”
Let me share with you what you should see when you look in the mirror. And note, this is not Michael talking. This is the Christian Faith’s opinion of your life. When you look in the mirror – no matter what anyone else on earth has ever told you to the contrary – you are looking at a person whom God calls “my child.” You are God’s daughter or son. And that makes you special. And that makes you worthy. And that makes you okay just as you are, whatever you have, however you look, wherever you live or work, whatever your essence may be. You are God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10), and that means you are beautiful! Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.”