I decided to teach myself to paint. One of my ideas was to cut out photos from newspapers and magazines, then try to paint them. I chose black and white ones for my first attempt. I learned that raw umber and ultramarine blue made a nice black, so I mixed up some and got started. The first picture that inspired me was the face of a young Black American girl. She was financially poor. But in one way she was very rich and it showed on her face. This captured my attention and my heart.
There was dignity in her expression, self-respect, and that’s what I wanted to portray—a deep inner strength from within. She held her head high as her face expressed drive and courage. When I saw the photo I thought to myself, “No matter what her circumstances are, she believes in her own worth and that’s what I want to paint.”
I have the finished painting hanging in the living room, across from where I sit. The emotional impact continues to inspire me. This girl may not have had money or things, but she had her dignity; she had pride in who she was. In my teenage years I’d lost that, and let people treat me badly because I didn’t think I deserved to be treated well. But when I started to study God’s Word, my self-worth was re-ignited.
I think God sees us much like I see the painting of the girl’s face. He’s proud of us. He sees right past any of our outward frailties or inward short comings. He smiles when we believe in ourselves, when we hold our heads high. We are His kids. We have a right to dignity and we have courage to believe and walk out on His Word, step by step into our futures. We learn a lot by just doing—finding out what works and what doesn’t work for us. Maybe not immediately, but eventually we learn to recognize how He works in our lives and we learn to truly trust Him and His Word.
Psalm 139:14 is a great verse to tell ourselves if we’re ever feeling bad about ourselves: “I will give thanks and praise to You [God], for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”
God says we’re fearfully (awesomely, respectfully) made. God took time thinking about us even before we were born: what we would look like (what color eyes, the color of our skin, would we have freckles or not, all that physical stuff.) He carefully planned where we’d be born, what kind of cultural environment we’d be in, what our voices would sound like, what we would enjoy. He thought about all that in great detail and made each person unique. Then He said, “Wonderful!” We may not always agree with Him, but we need to!
Zechariah 2:8 tells us we are the apple of God’s eye, and warns those who go up against us. “For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘After glory, He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.’”(NASB).
I like the way The Living Bible translates this: “The Lord of Glory has sent me against the nations that oppressed you, for he who harms you sticks his finger in Jehovah’s eye!”
This verse is specifically talking about nations who plunder God’s people, but Satan also uses demons to get people to plunder themselves by self-mutilation of one form or another. Even speaking badly about ourselves can be a form of mutilation of the mind, heart and spirit.
Since God says we were awesomely, respectfully and thoughtfully made, we need to respect ourselves for what God created! Let’s not stick a finger in His eye! Instead, the next time we look into the mirror let’s be saying to that person, “You, yes YOU, are wonderfully made by God and you are the apple of His eye. Respect yourself!”
PART 1 F*R*E*E*
More good truths from God’s Word and how to apply these truths in everyday living—get your copy of WINGS: A Journey in Faith