Thanks so much to H for this brilliant guest post…
I am so, so caught with my appearance…I know this is only a symptom of deeper problems. Yet I just want to pause and ask the question, why am I so concerned with ‘the shape of me’? It is right to care how I present myself because I am not just my own person. Being concerned with ‘the shape of me’ is a desire that needs to be channelled, focused, redirected. I don’t need to squash and squeeze these strong desires, to pretend they don’t exist. No, I need them to be purified.
God is concerned, deeply concerned, with ‘the shape of me’. My concerns are too small, too shallow. My focus on my outward appearance – my physical shape – is not what God wants for me. My image matters because I am an image-bearer: a representative and an ambassador. Even a ‘model’, as it were! But I will never be satisfied trying to ‘image’ and ‘model’ those around me. Or if I look inward instead of at those around me, I still don’t find what I am supposed to model. The sought-after tidiness and control on the one hand, or the confusion, chaos and messiness on the other. Looking inward to define ‘the shape of me’ will only produce a facade.
To become a pro at wearing a mask, whether that’s a mask over my mess (to demonstrate my control) or a mask that expresses my mess (to represent the emptiness inside)… surely I was made for more? Yes! Actually, my ‘shape’ was planned in advance, chosen for me. Here it is: ‘predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son’ (Romans 8:29).
My purpose is to grow in my image-bearing of Jesus. I am meant to look increasingly like him. ‘The shape of me’ really does matter! And ‘the shape of me’ is intended to be growing more and more into ‘the shape of godliness’. This is a far bigger goal than simply having a shape with conforms to society’s ideals of beauty (which, incidentally, change and develop considerably). This is a goal that unites me with millions throughout history and around the world – to be more like Jesus.
Replacing desires for a different body with desires to grow in godliness is surely biblical. Removing desires is no good at all if there is nothing to replace them. One demon cast out; seven more take its place. But if a deep and intense concern for Christ-like image takes up residence in me, the underlying issues will gradually be dealt with. These issues control and dictate my concern with the physical ‘shape of me’, they will begin to be eroded. This side of glory will always be a fight, but praise God, one day these wrong desires will be utterly eradicated!
For me, being a certain shape is simply a way of being in control. So this focus on the physical ‘shape of me’ betrays a huge internal hole – a deficiency in trust. Yet if I actively pursue ‘the shape of godliness’ I will be seeking to imitate Jesus, who perfectly and consistently trusted his Heavenly Father. To even want to develop and refine this ‘shape of godliness’ in my life, I must start with God. I must plead with him to make me a mirror reflecting him: a moon that is lit up by the Sun of righteousness. He comes with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2) to restore what is broken. That includes my thinking and my feeling, my mind and my heart. He is more real than any of my fears, more intense than I could ever understand. He wants more for me than a superficial desire for the outward ‘shape of me’. He is seeking to refine and purify that desire to make it what he intended it to be. And in doing so, he will get all the glory.
My image matters, my ‘shape’ is immensely significant. I was made in the image of God and by his inexplicable grace I have been chosen to be an image of his Son. This is my desire: for ‘the shape of me’ to look ever more like ‘the shape of godliness’, the shape and image of Jesus.
Image from Dr Seuss: source