Identity Crisis | Image [Pt. 1 of 4]
Our culture has an image obsession. We live in a world of angles, filters, and influencers. It used to be that only the supermodels were airbrushed, photoshopped, and professionally photographed for the world to see. Today everyone has HD quality cameras with apps that correct every flaw built right into their smartphones, perpetuating the illusion of perfection. These images in and of themselves are not the problem. The problem comes when we compare ourselves with those images, and what we see doesn’t match up with the life we live.
These images give us a distorted view of what we should look like, who we should be, and how we should live. This distortion increases the more we buy into the lie these pictures tell us about ourselves. Lies like you’re not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, wealthy enough, or adventurous enough. Just how much are we feeding this lie? Well, 90% of millennials use social media daily and spend an average 2 hours and 22 minutes engaging with it. We are spending 16% of our time awake under this barrage of perfectionism that slowly eats at our identity.
I have felt it this past week in my own life as my social feed has been saturated with pictures of people vacationing in exotic and iconic places. This has led me to think I should go on vacation sooner, I should spend more money I don’t have to go somewhere trendier, and creates an expectancy inside of me that simply will not match up with what the destination will really look like when I arrive. People’s pictures make it appear like they are all alone at their destination, but experience has taught me that there will be scores of people taking selfies at the perfect spot. There will be long lines, large crowds, and in my case a baby crying. We should be having the time of our life relaxing and recreating but our time will be tainted by dissatisfaction. Expectation didn’t match up with reality.
Whatever the situation we find ourselves in, each of us will spend time curating and crafting the idyllic image with a witty caption to make our lives look grander than they really are this week.
So, are we really surprised we have a self-image crisis? The latest stats show 61% of American women feel anxious about how they look and that only 4% of the population feel “beautiful.” This negative self-image then leads to depression, anxiety, restlessness, and FOMO, which all have negative mental, physical, emotional health risks.
The crux of the problem is that we are trying to be a person that does not exist in reality. The benchmark of perfection is unrealistic, yet it has become the standard by which we judge ourselves. What if we had a different standard by which we valued ourselves? The Bible gives a very different benchmark. Genesis 1:27 Says God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. Each one of us is thus created unique and perfect. We are designed with the image of the Creator. But, this image has been distorted by sin and hidden by lies about who we were created to be.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). This is great news! Jesus is the clear, untainted image of God. He is the better image for our lives. He images a relationship with God based on saving grace. He gives fresh grace every day. This is an image free of comparison since we can never measure up to God’s perfection and righteousness. Jesus lived the perfect life so we don’t have to because we can’t. God approves of us because when he sees us he sees his Son, so we don’t have to look to other people or things for approval. Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God saying better things about us than anyone could ever say.
When our identity flows from this relationship, we are safe and secure. It doesn’t fade or change based off of likes or shares. We are defined by the Source not society. We can be who we were created to be.