3.1 How You See Yourself Matters

What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? PSALM 8:4

I know well, from personal experience, the deadening effects of not knowing who and whose we are.… When we see ourselves wrongly, we often end up in the muddy pit of worthlessness with its attendant despair. TREVOR HUDSON

The world is full of claims about what makes you valuable and what makes you you. Henri Nouwen identifies three sources from which people often draw their sense of identity and self-worth:

  • Accomplishments (you are what you do)
  • Ownership (you are what you possess: stuff, health, appearance)
  • Reputation (you are what others say about you)1

But none of these is fundamentally you.

Proving your worth through what you do, what you have, or by managing what others think of you is exhausting. And fragile. Trophies fade, health fails, stuff breaks, opinions change.

What’s needed is a self-identity given by a source greater than the self, a self-worth untethered from performance or others’ opinions, a self-portrait” drawn by the Maker. And that’s exactly what Jesus offers. 

Reflect + Journal

How do you usually introduce yourself to new acquaintances? Write a brief bio,” as if describing yourself to a group of strangers. Don’t overthink it — just write what comes to mind.

Does something you wrote feel most essential to who you are? Do you lean too heavily on your accomplishments, possessions, or reputation to prove your value — to yourself or others? Journal your observations.

3.2 You Are Made in the Image of God

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. GENESIS 1:27

When God looked upon the human countenance, God was exceedingly pleased. For had not God created humanity according to the divine image and likeness? HILDEGARD OF BINGEN

You come from God. His breath (the same Hebrew word as spirit”) enlivens your body, your mind, your heart, and your personality. No one who has ever existed has been born against God’s desire or without the Creator’s imprint. Every person with whom you’ve ever interacted ultimately comes from the same good Source. And all of us share the same overarching calling — to reflect the goodness of our Maker and enjoy him forever.

Humans are the only creatures God calls into partnership with himself to care for the rest of creation. If you remember that you are created in God’s own image, you might treat yourself more gently. And if you think of others as fellow image-bearers, you might find yourself offering a little more grace.

Reflect + Journal

The phrase made in the image of God” can feel abstract or dulled by overuse. At the top of the page, write I am made in the image of God.”

Pause, pray, and ponder: What qualities and features do humans uniquely possess that make us image-bearers? Write what comes to mind.

5.2 Change Takes Time

Be patient, therefore, dear friends, until the coming of the Lord. Note how the farmer waits for the precious harvest of the earth, being patient for it until it receives the early and latter rains. JAMES 5:7MOUNCE

When we say yes to the gospel, we are saying yes to a process, not a quick fix … to a relationship, not a program. CAROLYN ARENDS

We do not become new people overnight,” writes Trevor Hudson.2 We are deeply invested in our own kingdoms … some of us more so than others. So Jesus calls us into a relational process of discipleship that is just as important and as intricate as human development in the womb.

Parts of your inward transformation can happen in flashes, but most of your growth and renewal is gradual. The Bible describes what is happening with several different words— forming, reforming, and conforming. New ideas and desires are coming into existence. The parts of your spirit that have been malformed are being gently reshaped. And your spiritual life is being pressed into the perfect mold of Jesus’ life. All of this takes time.

None of this will happen against your will or without your cooperation. Instead, you are invited to participate in your own slow re-creation by learning to be with Jesus, learning to be like Jesus. The pace of your spiritual formation is uniquely calibrated to your needs. Give yourself grace. And be patient with God’s hidden work in the depths of your spirit.

Reflect + Journal

Every morning I say again to myself, today I start. ST. ANTHONY OF THE DESERT

Waking up every morning to a fresh day is a natural invitation to renew your intentions. First thing in the morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and your journal, and write something that expresses your recommitment to the slow work of spiritual formation this day.

  1. Henri Nouwen, You Are the Beloved: 365 Daily Readings and Meditations for Spiritual Living: A Devotional (New York: Random House, 2022). ↩︎
  2. Trevor Hudson, Discovering Our Spiritual Identity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010), 50. ↩︎

Taken from the From the Inside Out Journal, edited by Grace Pate Pouch and Brian Morykon. Adapted from The Reservoir, a Renovaré resource for spiritual renewal, and from the content of the Renovaré course From the Inside Out, with additions by Grace Pouch and Brian Morykon. © 2024 Renovaré

Photo by Bradley Dunn on Unsplash

Text First Published January 2024 · Last Featured on Renovare.org March 2024