I spent part of last week with a group of beautiful, beautiful girls. Inside and out. Yet almost without exception, each one was painfully self-conscious and self-critical. If they talked about others the way they described themselves, they’d make the grim reaper look cuddly.
Looking at these girls, I wanted to hold up a mirror and yell ‘You’re gorgeous! Why can’t you see it?’ I thought wistfully of myself when I was at the same stage. If the sixteen year-old me was like them, I pondered, I’d have been full of self-confidence. Instead I was square, plain and socially awkward. A fraggle wearing her mum’s lipstick. These girls however, were different. Nervous and intense, trembling with life and hope and potential. A world away from the teenager I had been.
By coincidence, a few days later, I met up with an old school friend. She was (and is) a popular and very attractive woman. At school, all the guys fancied her and she had a knack for saying exactly the right thing. Beside her I felt like a moth beside a butterfly. But then she said something that stopped me in my tracks. ‘Emma’, she said, ‘I was always jealous of you. You always seemed like you hadn’t a care in the world: you had such style and confidence’.
I choked and spluttered on my coffee – ridiculous. Impossible! But that night, I unpacked some old photos. And the girl I saw there wasn’t the eyesore I remembered. She was no supermodel – but neither was she worthless. Useless. Or disgusting.
It’s funny isn’t it? We don’t see ourselves the way that others do. We don’t see ourselves the way that God does. Yet when it comes to self-analysis and self-worth, we’re still convinced that we’re the experts. We wouldn’t talk to our worst enemies the way we castigate ourselves. We wouldn’t dream of judging others by our own ridiculous standards. And yes, I know that Jesus loves the whole world…but me? If that’s true, then it has the power to transform everything: past, present and future.