Is self-image biblical?
The short answer is yes. Christians argue a lot about this concept. The reasoning is you shouldn’t be focused so much on yourself. Focus on God and his glory; that is all that matters. After all we are just fallen sinners with nothing good in us. The last part is true, but we are not just our fallen nature and body. We are beings created in the image of God and live in sinful bodies. Self-image is seeing and feeling about yourself the way God does. See yourself according to truth not according to the world’s warped value system, and certainly not through the eyes of some other sinful being.
God tells us we are to love others as ourselves and we are to love God with all our heart and mind. Both of these commands are impossible to do with a broken view of self. We can only love God after we first receive his love for us (1 John 4.11 -19). Jesus demonstrated how he felt about us when he walked in this world. He had the amazing ability to love people (sinners) while hating their sin. God is the ultimate safe attachment base. To know and experience his love should make you feel accepted, valued and important, which is what proper self-image is. It means you have great worth to God, and he has designed a plan for your life. If you allow him, God will fulfill his plan in you while also restoring his image in you.
The basis of emotional health
Seeing God correctly is key to seeing self correctly. Both of these things are the basis of healthy self-image. You will neither be arrogant nor depressed in your self-assessment. You discover your identity in Christ, God sees you the same as his son. He loves, accepts and wants to bless you just like he does Jesus. God sees you in him, which means he sees you the same as Jesus. All guilt and shame have been forever put away and forgotten. The debt of your sin has been paid. God has made you a new creation and put you on a new path with a fresh start in life. He has said he will never leave nor forsake you. He will never give up on you as you struggle in your journey home. You are secure in him and he is all you need.
Now armed with this truth you can defeat the old lies of shame and worthlessness when they try to circle back through your mind. No matter who is the source of these lies, you appeal to a higher source of absolute truth: God and his word. This is what you meditate on; this is your new self talk. This is your new reality. This new truth also allows you to risk loving and reaching out to others. Should they reject or betray you, while this may hurt for a while it does not destroy your healthy self-image. God is your safety net who catches you with his love and acceptance. He will validate and help heal your wounded emotions. He will walk with you in grief through the losses of life. He will stay with you until you are home safe.
The perfect father
God gives fathers to children to protect and provide for them. They also have the responsibility to bear God’s image in the home. The better dad does this the safer a child feels. When this functions properly, it creates a special bond between a dad and his daughter. He is the man in her life and a big part of helping shape her healthy self-image. One day a younger man comes into the picture and steals her heart. Dad walks his daughter down the aisle and gives her in marriage to this new man. In doing this he is saying, “Now continue what I have been doing — providing and protecting her in all areas.” When the men in her life have properly done their job, she will feel safe and secure. But what if the men have failed or what if there has been no man?
In 1 Peter 1:1-4, Peter tells women how to have a spiritual and positive influence on an unbelieving husband. This is accomplished through the power of her godly life as the inner man of her heart shines through. That man is God — father to the fatherless and husband to the widow. Allow him to re-parent you and show you your true value. You are loved and precious in his eyes. You have great worth to him and he will never betray you. The reality of this truth is enough to heal the old wounds, give you confidence and keep you safe until one day he hands you off to Jesus, the lover of your soul. Now go out and roar.
Dr. John Hawkins, Sr. runs Gateway Counseling Center in Boynton Beach along with his son John Jr. He can be reached by visiting gatewaycounseling.com.