Worthy of His Image
BY GRACE ALLEN
In my parents’ dining room, hanging on one of the walls is a pinboard with family photos from various years and occasions. I’ve looked at one particular photo more times than I can count in the last couple of years. Every time, I see the same thing: a 13-year-old girl, slightly leaning into her dad, smiling faintly with absolute ignorance as to what is ahead for her. I see a fool.
If only I could go back and tell her, warn her things will be difficult, and she has to stay strong for both of us! She had no idea how hard things would get. She never thought her story would be one of brokenness. In fact, she always saw herself as set apart, different from the world because her story wasn’t like the rest.
So, I see a fool in that picture, but I can’t go back to prevent anything.
When I look in the mirror I see the same thing: a fool, a woman who resembles that girl and always feels less-than-worthy in spite of how hard she tries to prove her worthiness.
These feelings of inadequacy, insignificance, and unworthiness come from my own belief that I’m not important enough to other people. Every significant struggle in my life thus far can be traced back to a connection with another human. I stake so much on how they feel about me. And when they don’t respond to me the way I wish they would — receptive, appreciative, understanding — I feel more than a little unworthy. Is there something wrong with me?
But how do all these feelings make my heavenly Father feel?
My pastor said if we want to get to the reason why all people matter we have to first discuss why we matter, especially to God.
“So what does it mean to be in the image of God? If we have handicaps and mental health problems and are recovering from drug abuse or alcoholism and we’re going through stages of just not being the people God wants us to be, are we still in God’s image?” my pastor posed to our congregation a couple weeks ago.
Silently sitting there and staring down at the table, I stewed about this question. It was asked on a day when I woke up feeling unimportant, unworthy. I had a choice to either close up my heart and ears in ignorance, or to bravely listen, respond, and be reminded of the truth.
I listened. And I came away with a few thoughts, hastily written down on a piece of paper for future references, such as this moment.
So, are we still in God’s image when we’re down in the trenches of our own hearts? The ultimate answer: Yes. But, here’s why:
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” (Genesis 1:26-27, NKJV).
This is the baseline reality of why we’re worthy. God created us in His image, meaning we have something of Him inside of us already. He loves us. And the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross — dying as an innocent man in our place — sealed our worth and our eternity.
How do we live worthy until heaven, all while people so easily make us want to walk away, give up, and stop believing Jesus loves us and has a greater purpose for us?
1. Start with yourself.
Right now I’m thinking of that photo, my own reflection. I have to convince that person that she’s not the fool she believes she is. Yes, she has made mistakes, she has disobeyed God more times than she can count. But she is far from a fool. To say she is unworthy — to believe that lie — is to say God somehow made a mistake. Not possible. I am not defined by the mistakes I have made and the subsequent guilt coming from them. I am not worthless.
2. Allow God to see all of you.
Of course, He already sees you, but it brings Him countless moments of joy when He knows His children are deliberately making themselves known to Him. This means being honest with Him, not approaching His throne as if you have it all together. Whoever said you had to impress God with how well you’re holding your life together?
Every morning is another opportunity to trust God with everything I have, and that’s much easier said than done, trust me. But as I step out in faith, trying to increase my trust in my Father, He faithfully meets me in those places.
3. Remember you’re not alone.
There are plenty of other people who are struggling with the lie of worthlessness. Ask God to reveal those people to you. No one is meant to endure this struggle alone. When you find those people, remind them that there’s nothing they can do to make God regret His decision to create them. Share your own story. Love His children the way He loves them. It will remind you of how much He loves you.
So where else can this leave me except at the foot of my Jesus’ throne, praising Him for this simple fact: He loves me, and He created me in His image, regardless of all the mistakes He knew I would make? That young girl in the picture at my parents’ house … she grew up and she experienced some hard, painful things in life. But I can tell you with confidence God used those hard things, and I believe I’ll be seeing His purpose for those struggles for many years to come.
He created and loves all of us, every part of us. We are His greatest creation. Nothing will ever change that.
PHOTOS BY ANNIE SPRATT