From the movies to our favourite television shows to our social media feeds to the magazine racks we pass on the daily, we are invaded by thousands of images that depict kaleidoscopic beauty. We become enthralled by curiosity; of places we have never been before and of qualities we do not have, for we begin to meditate upon these things whether we even realize it or not.
Every morning, we awake and look ourselves in the mirror. We examine every line in our face, the hairs upon our head, and the colours that surround our eye’s pupils. The first image that we gaze upon in our day, the one that we look upon in the mirror, is the very image that we compare to the thousands of others that we will come across from that moment on until we close our eyes at the end of the day.
Thousands and thousands of images.
Here is the dictionary definition for the word image.
(n). a representation of the external form of a person or thing in art.
In and of themselves, our social media platforms are a piece of art, a complete representation of who we are (or, so we think). However, there is a missing element to this equation, and in fact, it is the most important of all elements. I am certain you know what I am going to speak of next, so I’ll keep it short. I am speaking of the heart. Yet, due to our innate human nature and our desire to be an image, an external representation that is admired and desired by others, we struggle seeing ourselves for who we really are.
As much as we are an image, we have created insecurities about ourselves.
(n). uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence
For the images that we come across, whether it be through a phone or television screen or face to face in real time, we begin to accept our insecurities as our own. Anxious thoughts fill our mind, for the root of anxiety is a bursting desire to do something, to do something that is typically caused by unease. And, didn’t I say that the images that insert themselves into our thoughts are the very thing that make us enthralled to become or be something that we feel we are not?
To speak to your heart, it will require me to speak from mine. For recently, I have experienced anxious thoughts when it comes to my physical appearance, specifically my smile. I have a crooked smile, a smile that has an overbite and terribly misaligned teeth. When I was a child, my parents could only afford braces for one child, so it went to the sibling with the most crooked teeth. Thanks to a baseball injury, my little brother won the award for “child with the most crooked teeth.” I was devastated. Thankfully at the time, my upper teeth weren’t that crooked until I turned nineteen and had my wisdom teeth taken out, entirely adjusting my smile to be what it is today.
Whenever I watch a movie or scroll through my Instagram feed, I find myself envying perfect smiles while opening a separate tab on my phone that has a recent search history of “Dentists near me.” Perhaps you don’t have a crooked smile, but I guarantee that there is something else that might bother you when you look at your own images; it is the inevitable that you wish you didn’t have to deal with, but it is a fact that you do.
While thousands of images fill our eyes with an array of feelings, it is you and I that has the choice to decide whether or not we will allow those feelings to fixate upon our external(image) or instead, our internal(heart).
As much as I desire a smile with straight teeth, I desire more a heart of gold. A heart that is brave, confident, kind, and pleasing to God is a beauty of the soul that cannot be reckoned with. As much as we look at physical images, how much more are we looking at internal images, images that can only be found in the Word of God?
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” -1 Peter 3:3-4
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” -2 Corinthians 4:16
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” -Proverbs 31:30
All of this to say, I am reminding you not to be swept away by the images of society, but rather, the images that are found in God’s written word. When our heart is aligned with His image, our external representation will become an image of His glory.
Every voice in this world gives an opinion as to what will make you happy and what defines beauty, but know this, YOU are the only one who can make that definite choice. So, today, I choose an image of happiness that can only be contained through the realization that I have been uniquely and beautifully made in God’s image.
Dear Crooked Smile,
You at times have brought me more grief than joy; however, at the end of the day, you have taught me to look beyond the external, beyond the facades, beyond the lines in my face and the hazel in my eyes. You have taught me to embrace my quirkiness, to be brave in a world that has often treated me unkindly, to be confident in a room full of superiors, to embrace hope when everything else seems to be dying, to pursue writing when the outside world tells me that I won’t succeed. So, to the smile that appears crooked in photographic images, you truly are a brave representation of persisting through all of life’s circumstances and shining through in a world that does not see enough of true, authentic smiles.
“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” -Kahlil Gibran