I Am Made in the Image of God : Joelle Chang
Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
I was born and raised in a Christian household, so most of the things that I learned about God came from my early childhood. I learned Bible stories like the flood and the Noah’s Ark, and David’s defeat against Goliath during Saturday schools and Sunday services. I also grew up learning about Bible characters, such as Moses, Joseph, and Jesus. And the most repetitive thing I’ve heard at church was the phrase, “Jesus loves you.”
Since a very young age, I developed issues with my body. I was overweight and I needed to do something about it because I was tired of being told that I was fat and that I should stop eating.
I started dieting, exercising and dedicating my time 24/7 thinking about what I can do to lose weight and how I could change my eating habits since sixth grade. I had lost ten pounds in a few months, and I loved myself for working so hard for it. I even thanked God for the dedication that I had for this issue. After that, I strived for better results.
As time went on, this small desire became more of an obsession. I started eating less than I should’ve, and I was exercising like crazy. By the end of sixth grade, I had lost 30 pounds. What was supposed to be a celebratory moment crumbled into nothing. At that point, I had genuinely hated myself. My insecurity was no longer restricted to the way my body looked, but also spread to other aspects of myself, like the way my voice sounded and the way I chewed my food. I had no love for myself at all. I was completely convinced that no one loved me, not even God. After all, why would He love me when I’m a mess? I thought to myself, “God can't love imperfection, because He is perfect.”
That summer, I went to a retreat with no expectations. I just went there because all my friends were there and I wanted to spend time with them. However, God used this retreat to draw me back to Him. As cliché as it sounds, one of the songs that were repetitively played throughout the retreat, “How He Loves”, broke down all the walls of self-hatred. I was reminded that He truly loved me for who I was, whether I was a complete train wreck or a complete train wreck that was 30 pounds lighter. I knew that He desired my heart, and that He wasn't going to stop pursuing after me until I was found in Him.
Now, as a freshman in high school, I still deal with problems with my self-image and anxiety. In some ways, I still don’t exactly love myself as who I am. But I will not doubt the fact that He is alive in my heart. He sees me in my suffering, and He is with me through my rough patches. He’s been there from the start and He’ll be there when I am at the pearly gates. But, until that day, I will remember that Jesus loves me.
For Your Reflection
How do you perceive yourself? Today’s “impossible” standards of beauty make many of us feel ugly, inadequate, or unpopular. And sometimes, this feeling of insecurity leads us to falsely believe that we are unloved and even worthless.
But did you know that you are completely beautiful in God’s eyes and He loves your “image” as it is? This is because we are created in His image (Genesis 1:26-27) and our image is fearfully and wonderfully shaped by Him (Psalm 139:14). You are of great worth and value in His sight. Remember, you are beautiful and you are loved. Just like Jesus loves us as who we are, I hope we too can see the beauty that Jesus sees in us.