For a number of years, I worked at a school. I have some fun and cherished memories of my time there. All the kids at the school where I worked were small, preschool through just second grade. One of the things I especially enjoyed about that age group is the funny things they would say! I mean to tell you, these kids were often quite hilarious without even trying!
I remember one day, talking with a group of first graders on their way to lunch. One of them had just lost a tooth (a fairly common experience in the first grade!) He was showing me the space where the tooth had been and talking about the night before and how hard he had to wiggle that tooth to remove it from his mouth. At that time, my grandson was also in the first grade, and I was curious if they were the same age, so I asked the boy just how old he was. “I’m 6!” he declared proudly. This simple question had all the other kids nearby, asking me to guess their age too. After guessing a few of them, I made the cardinal mistake of asking them to guess how old I was….
To be fair, I did ask them first. I did open myself up to suggestions (and humiliation). I did put it out there for interpretation. But if I’m honest, what I really wanted to hear were guesses like, “I think you’re 29 like my mom” or “I think you are 35 like my aunt”. No such luck.
This same boy, who had just lost his tooth, said “I think you’re 73, like my grandma.” (Insert the mental image of a balloon deflating here).
Often, when we decide to be open with people, what we are really hoping is that they will say nice things to us. That the sometimes-negative things we tell ourselves, will not come out of their mouth. We’re wishing that they would encourage us in some way to help us feel better about ourselves. What we really want to hear is, “You’re wonderful just they way you are, don’t change a thing!” We try to convince ourselves that the negative opinions of others don’t matter, but in our souls, deeper down, we mull over those opinions. We let their words get to us and confirm our worst fears.
But maybe that’s just me….
There is only one whose thoughts about me matter ultimately, and that’s God. He is the only one who speaks the lasting words of acceptance and love over me.
But we live in a culture and society that constantly tells us that we are not attractive enough, rich enough, thin enough, interesting enough, young enough or personally fulfilled enough. We can easily be caught in a cycle of feeling that our identity in this life is found in our appearance, possessions, weight, age or career.
But who does God say I am?
God says I am loved. Scripture is full of verses where God speaks His love over us. Consider Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”. Or 1 John 4:9 “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him”. God’s love for you is personal. He doesn’t just love all people, but He loves you personally and specifically.
God says I am precious. Precious refers to something that is deeply treasured, truly beloved, and dear to the heart. This is how God thinks of you. Psalm 139:17-18 tells us “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!”
God says I am treasured. A treasured thing is something of great worth or value. Deuteronomy 14:2 puts it this way, “You have been set apart as holy to the Lord your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.”
God says I am chosen. Something that is chosen is selected or marked for favor or special privilege. In John 15:16, Jesus is speaking, and He says this about those who follow Him, “You did not choose me I chose you.” Think 3rd grade recess, picking teams for dodge ball, only far more important. You are chosen, by the Team Captain (Jesus)!
How about if you and I become more intentional about where we get our identity from. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. How we see ourselves, our identity, should come from the one in whose image we were created. Our creator is the only one who should be influencing the way we see ourselves.
So, when the world, social media, television, and the opinions of others (no matter what their age, even cute toothless first graders…) have you feeling down, remember some of the ways that the Lord sees you.
He sees you as:
Understanding your true identity in Christ starts with an understanding of who He is, then what He says about Himself, and next what He says about you.
Embracing what God says to be true about you will help you feel secure when the attacks and opinions of others threaten to dismantle your peace.
Even if it is a first grader. (*wink)
Lord, this world can be rough on me sometimes. I don’t often talk kindly to myself in my thoughts. And sometimes I let the opinions of others influence the way that I imagine you feel about me. So today, I want to remember the truth of how you love me and see me. In Christ, I am loved, precious, treasured and chosen. Will you remind me of those 4 words often this week Lord, so that I can begin to more completely embrace your love for me? Amen.