Do you know me? Do you understand me? Do you see me? Do you love me?
Do I matter to you?
These are all questions I have asked for myself in a continuous stream ever since that first twinge of elementary school self-consciousness. From what I understand of the people I love, I am not alone in this.
From what I understand of the state of the world, I am not alone in this.
Why is this so? Why do I feel so misunderstood and unknown? Why is the mere fact that I have a mind and body that both function not enough to tell me that I matter? Or to tell other people that I matter?
It is because of these questions that I am sure of the reason why some of the people with the poorest self-image are some of the kindest. I act a certain way when I am struggling with my perceptions of myself or other people’s perceptions of me, and when I see those actions reflected in others, I can guess (usually rightly) a person’s mindset. It is a shame that I only do something about it a small percentage of the time.
I so desire for my friends and family to see what they mean to me and all the value they contribute to my own life and to the world at large. I so desire for them to know that I see the image of God in them. How in the world am I supposed to do this? I can’t force it on them in the same way I can’t force my faith on them. I can’t switch bodies with them to allow them to see themselves through my eyes.
The cry of, “Why do you not acknowledge that I am a person?” is what I see every time a Black Lives Matter diatribe, a video of the Aleppo injustices, yet more statistics of the unacceptable rates of sexual abuse and rape pass across my social media. In these instances, I feel just as helpless as I do with my friends. What do I do? How do I let them know that they matter to me?
Christians should be the first people to say, “Yes I see you! I see your worth! I see your value! I see that you bear the image of my God!” Instead, why do I see people who claim to be Christians doing the exact opposite? Why do I often do the exact opposite?
James 3:8-10 reads in the NIV; “but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”
The Gospel returns people to this purpose of bearing the image of God. Christians are supposed to have their actions seen by all and have these actions prompt people to praise God (Matthew 5:16). If someone claims this title of Christian is speech that condemns these cries for justice supposed to reflect God to people who need him?
I am not free of this either. I do not speak of this without knowing how my own actions continually fail to reflect the God I know is real and that I strive to love as best I can.
How dare I.
But if I do not say something, who will?
If I do not write this, who will? If I do not tell Black people that their lives matter, who will? If I do not act in a way that tells the suffering people of Aleppo that their lives matter, who will? If I do not show victims of sexual violence and rape culture that their worth is not defined by the injustice done them, who will?
If I do not show people with my actions and my words that they matter, that they bear the image of the same God that I claim to love, can I really say that I love God? This God I have never experienced empirically and who’s existence must be taken on faith?
The two laws so often abbreviated, “Love God, love others,” are mutually dependent. (Luke 10:27, 1 John 3 & 4:7-21)
Dear reader, I can say with confidence that you are a child of God, as I am. What if we started acting like it?