Sunday, September 16, 2007

Image

JordantopiaYesterday was daughter #4's 10th birthday. Technically, it's nearly impossible that Jordan is actually 10, since I only had her a few months ago (didn't I?), but there it is all the same.

Those who have read this blog for longer than a year, have already read all 7 of my kids "baby stories" so I won't repost Jordan's.

Jordan is my firstborn in a way, since she is the oldest of the "second family". She came along well after the idea I had (I should really just stop having ideas) that I was done having children. Not long after Jordan, came three more. Clearly I wasn't done. Clearly the Lord wasn't done blessing me with children.

Of all my kids, Jordan is most like me in that she tries to slip away and be alone quite a bit, likes to catch bugs and observe them without anyone bothering her (yes, I still do that), and likes it quiet rather than noisy and hectic. She also can't do math to save her life, just like me at the same age. It's coming along though, and just like for me once it "clicks" it'll just be a bad memory of math worksheets. She might even be like me in that once it does click, she'll discover that she really loves math and working with numbers just like I do.

I was looking at a picture a few days ago of a friend and his daughter. It struck me just how much the daughter looks like the father, and brought to mind a family I know where the boys all look like the mother. In our case with Samuel, everyone who sees him and knew Kevin as a boy, says he's the spitting image of Kevin. Once when my oldest Caryn was with me, I ran into some friends I hadn't seen since I was a teenager. Caryn was about the same age I was, the last time I saw these folks, and they just couldn't get over how much she looked like me, at that age. They called her "mini-Carla". Even some of her teachers in junior high (who were also my teachers) knew right away that she was my daughter. Funny thing is, I don't think we really look that much alike, but others see it. As for me, I look just like my mom, but to me, Caryn doesn't look like my mom at all. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

When I look at each of my kids, I see something of me in each of them. In some of them it's more obvious than with others. Like Jessica's turned up nose, or Caryn's giant smile & deep laugh lines, Jennifer's big feet (yes, we are in fact related to a hybrid breed of Amazonian/Sasquatch women, my mom reads my blog and she'll verify this fact). It's evident at least to me, that all my kids bear a resemblance to me in some way. In thinking about this it made me think of a verse of Scripture that used to be so confusing to me:


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)

I'm not really sure why that was so confusing, other than the possibility that I was under false teaching at one time, for long enough that I questioned pretty much everything I thought I knew. Obviously we were not created physically to look like the Father, since God is Spirit and doesn't have a physical body. It's inwardly that we were created in His image - the abilities He gave us to think, reason, create, have compassion, desire justice, be nurturing, and to have an eternal soul.

Thinking along these lines got me to thinking about image in a variety of ways.

If you've read the news at all lately, or watched it on television, it's been impossible for you to miss the big to-do that was made over Britney Spears at the recent televised music awards. Much was made of her physical appearance, and much criticism leveled at the fact that she is "out of shape". Of course this comparison is to the trim, athletic shape she had as an up and coming performer at the ripe old age of 17. (Didn't we all look pretty good at 17??) Had she not been "gyrating in public wearing her underwear" as Libbie so aptly put it recently, none of us would have ever known what she looked like prior to having a couple of kids and putting on a couple of years, in the first place. Nevertheless, her image has been plastered all over the place for the last several years, and then made headlines once again after the award show.

If you've ever read the medical facts surround eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, you already know that body image is at the center of those physically devastating problems. Young women can become so obessesed with the image they present, and setting a standard for that image as rail thin, they brutalize their own health to get there. One celebrity that comes to mind that I dearly loved to listen to when I was younger, is Karen Carpenter. Her own body-image became such an obsession with her, that if my memory serves me well and media reports were accurate - it was her ravaged heart, caused by anorexia, that caused her death at such a young age.

Whether we're looking at our kids and using ourselves (or their other parent) as the standard by which we see an image in them, or whether we're looking at a celebrity that has "gone downhill" and using their former image as the standard by which we compare them, or seeing how anorexia is fueled by self-image (which is really just the sin of pride manifesting itself in the form of an eating disorder) we always have a standard for image that we go by.

Do you find yourself suddenly pushing 40, 50 or 60 and out of shape? (And if you thought I was dropping a hint to anyone, you'd be wrong, so there!) If so, there is an image in the back of your mind that is your standard or your goal to aim for to get back into shape. This works with home and cars and yards and various other possessions as well. We look at our own things and think "I'd like my (fill in the blank) to look or work more like this", and we're using a standard of image that we've seen elsewhere, that we see as better, smarter, faster, more effecient or somehow superior to the current state of things. Certainly this is not always a bad thing, and in many cases it can be a very good thing.

But what of the verse I posted up there? I don't know a single Christian that would disagree with it, but at the same time, when you look inward do you actually see that image? Do you see righteousness, holiness, compassion, justice, mercy, grace and forgiveness? When I look at that standard for image, God's standard, sometimes I see those things in me (and purely by His grace) but more often than not I do not see them and know full well how far short I really fall from that goal, as much as I can know and understand it with a fallen and corrupt mind. I suspect if I could really comprehend just how short I fall of this standard, I might be far more horrified than words can accurately express.

Theres all kinds of things in our lives that could stand some improvement, but the single most important thing is what is on the inside of us all, and how that image measures up to the image of God that we were all created in. Indeed man is a fallen being, but by grace and because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, it is our joy and should be our desire to work on that image, more than any other. That's the one that matters the most, and that's the one that people will be touched by, and remember above all else.