In Whose Image?

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Photo by cinnamon_girl via Flickr

I like to knit.

There, I said it. I could follow up that statement with a list of celebrities who have also jumped on the knitting bandwagon (Christina Hendricks, David Arquette, Katherine Heigl, Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts) or talk about the health benefits of knitting (inspires the “relaxation response,” relieves depression, minimizes stress).

Really, though, I just like making stuff. I like the pretty colors of yarn. I like doing something that not many people these days know how to do.

It’s just that no matter how I phrase it, knitting is not a cool pastime. It ranks right up there with making little Dungeons & Dragons models in the basement. Maybe you enjoy doing it, but you sure don’t admit it. Knitting doesn’t fit with my image of the romance writer who needs a separate room to store her high-heel collection.

That’s the key, isn’t it? Image. How I want to be perceived by my family, friends, readers, colleagues.

Maintaining an image is not necessarily a bad thing. In any sort of business, you want to present yourself well. As Christians, we don’t want to exhibit any behavior that would reflect badly on our Lord and Savior.

But when the worry about image makes us act less than authentically, it’s a problem.

In today’s social media world, where we connect with others across long distances in sound-bite statements, it’s easy to craft our images however we want. I can be the perfect wife, who makes gourmet meals every night and manages to look pretty when my husband comes home from work. I can be the perfect mother, whose school crafts put Pinterest to shame. The perfect businesswoman, who balances her work and her home life without ever having a hair out of place.

The reality is much different. Sometimes I get irritated that I have to stop in the middle of writing a scene to cook dinner. Sometimes I yell at my kids when they don’t deserve it. Sometimes I look at my blessed life, my loving family, my burgeoning writing career, and wonder, “Why in the world did I think I could juggle this all?”

I’m human. I’m fallible. As a Christian, I could pretend that I’m above all those things, because they are not the fruit of a spirit-filled life. I can say that I don’t share my failings because I don’t want to cause my sister or brother to stumble.

In reality, though, I just don’t want to admit that I’m not perfect. I don’t want the black mark on my pride. I don’t want people whom I respect to think less of me.

My pride might lead me to cheat those around me from seeing the amazing things that God can accomplish.

I’m not successful because of me, I’m successful because of Him. My children are not well-behaved because of my incredible parenting skills, but because of my willingness to pray for them (and pray that my mistakes don’t screw them up too badly). I don’t have a blessed life because I deserve one, but because God loves me and has given me the desires of my heart.

Without the battle, there can be no victory. Without the storm, there can be no rainbow. Without brokenness, there can be no healing.

Next time I’m tempted to create myself in my own perfect, imaginary image, I’ll remind myself that I should instead reflect an image of Christ’s grace and provision.

And that I should remember to take the lasagna out of the freezer for dinner.

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