"One of the major problems in the spiritual life is our attachment to our own
self-image __ either positively or negatively created. We have to begin with
some kind of identity, but the trouble is that we confuse this idea of ourselves with who we actually are in God. Ideas about things are not the things in themselves. We all have to start
by forming a self-image, but the problem is our attachment to it, our need to
promote it and protect it and have others like it. What a trap!
Fortunately, that is what the Spirit has to strip away from us so that we can find
our "triumph and glory," as Isaih says, in God's image of us rather
than in our image of ourselves, which is always changing anyway."
"Only in the Lord ..... are righteousness and strength ...... In the Lord all
the offspring of Israel shall triumph and glory." __Isaiah 45:24,25
I am concerned about the elderly. I am worried that we have inadequate health care
and I am worried about the economy and the job market. But all of those concerns
together do not equal the concern I have for our children, teenagers and young
adults. What are we teaching them about themselves? How are we teaching them
to value themselves, as they are, beautiful children of a loving God.?
Several years ago I was a presenter at a conference and a man approached me at the
break talking about image and the culture. He explained to me that he was retired
from a very successful advertising career and that he carried some significant
guilt from that part of his life. He said, "You know, every single advertisement,
regardless of the medium, is designed to make you feel bad about yourself and
then offer you a solution." My immediate response was, "Well, it works."
Fr. Richard says in today's reflection, "Their self-image was based on mere
psychological information instead of theological truth," when speaking of
both youth and adults he has worked with in the past. Unfortunately parents, educators and other authority figures are often as trapped
in the values of the culture as our children are. I'm not sure of the statistics
of other generations but among Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964,
most of us are not "churched." There are seventy-five (75) million
of us and only fifteen (15) million are involved in church. That leaves sixty
(60) million who are not. I don't know how their children are developing self-image
based on theological truth.
It is easy to talk about "them", but it is me too and it breaks my heart
to say it also includes my children. We have all been in the church all of our
lives. We know theological truths and we try to live by them. And yet, there
are many moments and many days when each of us is caught in the trap of taking
our cues and identity from the world.
The Question: Which of your self-images (positive or negative) get in the way of
your relationship with God? Whenever we get defensive or go emotionally up and
down, this is a sign that we are attached to a self-image.
Any time I am tied to my self-image it gets in the way of my relationship with God.
I so want to be part of changing the way we see ourselves. I have a platform
and sometimes I can stay tuned to what is Real and other times I am as trapped
as anyone else.
Two things that help me as I struggle are:
1. My self-image is not the same thing as other people's image of me.
2. I am responsible for the legacy I leave my children and my grandchildren regarding
what they value and how they see themselves. I want them to always see themselves
as God sees them. They want the very same for me.