This past Sunday, David brought an amazing message (as usual) and he said something to the effect of “I’m not what I think about me. I’m not what God thinks about me. I am what I think God thinks about me.” I quoted him on FB and got quite a few positive remarks about it. It hits a nerve, doesn’t it?
The first time I heard something like this, I was either a senior in high school or a college freshman. Over the holidays following Christmas, our church youth group went to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, for what they called “Christmas Challenge.” It was an awesome several-day “retreat” with concentrated Bible study and music and group teaching. We would eventually go to other locations for this retreat, but this particular one was my first…and it left an indelible mark on my heart and soul.
As usual at these types of events, the guys and girls were separated into smaller groups to get up-close-and-personal with God, led by a truly gifted group leader. In one of these groups, we girls were talking about self-image…how we see ourselves…our self-esteem or lack thereof. For anyone who knows me at all, you know that this is a battle I fight constantly. I have no idea why…but I do. So this particular subject caught my attention.
After talking with us about this, the group leader made the following statement and it rocked my world. She gave us this tongue-twisterish-sounding pearl of wisdom: “You’re not who you think you are. You’re not who others think you are. You’re who you think others think you are.” She was saying this in context to how we compare ourselves to other people…especially we girls comparing ourselves to other girls.
It made me really examine what I turned to for my self-identity. Was it my family? To a large extent, yes. Was it my mirror? Yeah, a lot of times. Was it my closest friends? Yeah, that too. But even then, I really didn’t see myself the way they saw me…I saw myself the way I THOUGHT they saw me. And that’s messed up…because we don’t really, truly know, do we?
The bad news is this: It doesn’t stop with girl-hood…it skulks along with us all the way into woman-hood. I still see myself the way I think others see me. Even this week at lunch with a friend, I said something about myself, and she stopped me and told me the truth about it/about ME…I was thinking falsely. And MAN, I appreciate friends like that!
But we as believers do the same with God. We rarely if ever see ourselves the way God sees us…which is the way to see ourselves. We aren’t really given a choice. God doesn’t give us the option to see ourselves any other way. But we do, do we not?
What we tend to do is view ourselves the way we THINK God views us. We imagine God sitting there in a big, imposing Dumbledore chair, with a big clip board or notebook and a pen, poring over our past. And as He does, He views us (we think) in one of four ways:
• A failure
With all the bad decisions and unwise choices we’ve made in our past…even as recent as yesterday…we imagine God looking at us and saying, “Oh, my. How in the world could I ever use you based on the lack of success in your life. That failed marriage. That failed business. That failed relationship. That failed project. That failed investment. That failed parenting moment. It could never happen. I need a winner!”
• A fool
Again, because of foolish decisions we make, and have made, we imagine God seeing us as the fool. “Who in their right mind would have dated that guy?” “Why did you get drunk and get pregnant?” “Why did you invest in that ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme?” “Why did you quit college just when things were starting to look up?” All of us have foolish moments and decisions in our past that we wish we could go back and undo and re-do.
• A felon
Then there are some of us who have done the unthinkable. Gone too far. Broken the law. Crossed the legal-line. Escaped the consequences of something really bad. And we’re fugitives. Or felons. We know our past is tainted with sins that are inexcusable. And that’s what we imagine God seeing when He views us. “I can’t even look at you right now. How could you? You KNEW that was wrong! You KNEW what would happen, and you did it anyway! I’m disgusted and can’t even be in the same time zone as you!” He sees all the horrible, nasty, rotten parts of us that have gotten us into heaps of trouble…and He turns away.
• A freak
And then there’s those of us who are just weird. We act strange. We talk different. We look different. Maybe there’s a disability or
handicap that holds us back, slows us down, or stops us where we are. We’re clumsy, we’re not as smart as others, one nostril is bigger than the other, we’re painfully short…or painfully tall. We have a stutter…or a gimpy leg…or bad eyesight…or stunted comprehension. Maybe we just don’t get things as quickly as other people…and we see ourselves as “freaks”…and we think God does too.
But guess what! GOD DOESN’T THINK THOSE THINGS! Don’t get me wrong; He doesn’t ignore those things about us, but He doesn’t hold them against us. And that’s not how He sees us.
Want to know how God really sees us? Well you can start by reading Psalm 139 over…and over…and over. Read it every day! In different translations. It’s not that long of a chapter. And believe me, you will encounter an enormous treasure of encouragement and truth in these words. And if we’re not really paying attention to what God thinks of us, this is a way to get a huge booster shot of it every single day.
But look at these, also. This isn’t a complete list, but it’s a list that came up during my latest study I’m doing with a group of teenage girls. Commit them to memory. Or write them on cards that you can see all the time.
This is how God sees you:
2 Corinthians 6:17-18 “I want you all for myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.” He’s our very proud and loving Daddy.
Isaiah 60:21 “They’re the green shoot that I planted, planted with my own hands to display my glory.The runt will become a great tribe, the weakling become a strong nation. I am God. At the right time I’ll make it happen.” God wants to “show off” through us.
Isaiah 65:19 “I’ll…create my people as pure delight. I’ll take joy…take delight in my people.” He delights and finds joy in each and every one of us.
Psalm 8:5 “Yet you have made [us] a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned [us] with glory and honor.” He thinks so highly of us that He has put a crown of honor on our heads.
Ephesians 2:10 “…we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” He hand-crafted us each individually and we are precious pieces of art to Him.
Romans 8:33-34 “…who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.” When we feel unloved or condemned or tangled with, Jesus is praying for us! PRAYING FOR US!!
Wow!!! How can you think that God would see you as a failure, or a fool, or a felon, or a freak, when you read these powerful words of God about you and me…what He thinks of us?
So my challenge to you is, stop looking at yourself the way you “think” others see you, and stop looking at yourself the way you “think” God sees you…and start looking at yourself the way God really does look at you. It’ll change everything!
(PS…Do you find yourself looking at others around you as failures? fools? felons? freaks? If God, who has every right to look at us that way chooses to NOT, then why do we? Let’s do all we can to see others through His eyes…and love them the same way.)