Question: Who am I?
Fear: I am nothing.
Social psychologists have a concept known as the “looking-glass self.” In an overly simplistic way, it refers to the idea that our self-image is directly connected to the way we feel others perceive us, especially those who we deem to be the most important. For many, God plays a very important role in their lives. And so, what he thinks about us greatly shapes our self-identity.
In Christian circles, the discussion about God’s view of humanity often boils down to two extremes: depraved or dignified. Hopefully, you realize that the question is much more complicated than that. Ultimately this is a question about how you view yourself. Do you feel worthless? Do you feel valued?
Who are you?
Part of the answer is found in becoming self-aware. Our culture would like us to find value in money or success or beauty or youth or ability. We value people who look good on a magazine cover or who can throw a ball 100 miles an hour.
But though all of us would agree that this is shallow on an intellectual level, actually believing this and moving on to a more mature way of thinking is incredibly difficult.
Our faith teaches us that value is found through relationships and character development. And this begins with accepting the fact that God has made us in a fearful and wonderful way. He has placed the moon in the sky to follow us around because we are his beautiful child.
Discovering (or rediscovering) this truth comes about as we strip away pretension and become more authentic.
In other words, you have to answer the riddle, “How are you created in the image and likeness of God” for yourself. And as you do, you will find yourself on a journey back to the Garden of Eden, the place where you can be yourself as God intended, naked and unashamed.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word