When I was a child, I never liked being me. I always thought that I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, popular enough, or skinny enough.
I was never invited to the birthday parties of the more popular girls in my school and always felt inferior. My parents divorced when I was eight, and I felt awkward making new friends.
You might say I grew up having a poor self-image and low self-esteem. I didn’t like myself, and sometimes I even tried to become someone else. I’d copy one of the more popular girls laugh, or dress, hoping that if I could look more like her, people would like me. I remember in 5th grade vigorously rubbing the top of my nose hoping to create a big Jewish bump so I could be like all the other pretty girls in my classroom. All I got was a red nose!
Even as adults, we still struggle with these same problems, don’t we? We feel inferior, like we don’t belong. We tell ourselves that we’re not as good or as together, or as spiritual, or organized, or loving, as other people we see. We compare and contrast our lives, our looks, our jobs, our families, and our bank accounts and ask ourselves “Do I measure up? Am I good enough?”
Comparing ourselves to others will never give us any lasting sense of self-esteem or confidence. Depending on whom we’re measuring ourselves against, we will always feel inferior or superior. When you play the comparison game and look up the ladder, you will always find those who are smarter, prettier, thinner, richer, more organized, and more disciplined than you are.
Therefore, I have learned that the goal in becoming the best possible me is to realize that God never asks me to change myself into a different person, but he does want to change me. He wants me to become the best possible version of myself. The person he created me to become.
The ultimate makeover isn’t done at the cosmetic counter, the gym, in a fancy department store, or by a plastic surgeon, but by God. But he always works best with our consent and our cooperation. You and I are always in the process of becoming. We are either becoming a better version of ourselves or worse one. We are becoming healthier as people or not, more godly or more sinful, more Christ-like or more self-oriented. Which direction we’re heading is very much up to us.
I have a friend who loves antique furniture. She has an eye that can spot treasures amidst junk. Foraging through garage sales, auctions, and flea markets, she redeems pieces of furniture destined to be discarded by those of us less able to see its true value. But she doesn’t stop there. After she redeems the furniture, she sets about restoring its original beauty. First she starts with a thorough cleansing. She must remove any dirt, soot, debris and old paint that have accumulated through years of neglect. Then she painstakingly fills in the cracks, polishes the hardware, sands, waxes, and rubs and rubs until the warm, rich, patina of the wood is restored. She brings forth its’ true image, the original beauty and design that had been disguised by neglect, damage and false coverings.
Our original design as God’s image bearers has been tarnished by sin, both our own sin, and the sin of others against us. As human beings, even the best of our efforts fall short of God’s original plan. Yet, in the sovereign grace of God, he not only offers to forgive our sins, he desires to restore us so that we might participate in his divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Our destiny as human beings is to reflect God’s image in our human body (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). Yet, many of us settle for far less than God intends.
As God’s children, he tells us that we are his image bearers, and, as we mature, we are to look more and more like Him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young Lutheran pastor, was imprisoned and eventually martyred in Germany under Adolf Hitler’s regime. In his classic book The Cost of Discipleship he writes, “Every man bears an image. Either man models himself on the god of his own invention, or the true living God molds the human form into His image. There must be a complete transformation, a ‘metamorphosis’ if man is to be restored to the image of God.”
The good news of the gospel of Christ is that God doesn’t just redeem us, he restores us. My question for you to ask yourself is this: Are you becoming the best possible version of yourself or have you settled for an inferior version?