Image of oneself

Recently, I was at a retreat for mothers and their adult daughters at the Brothers of Saint John community in The Hague, The Netherlands. The theme of this weekend was: the image of oneself. During this weekend we had teachings about this theme, Holy Mass, adoration, and plenty mother-daughter time to talk about what’s really going on in each others lives. In this blog I will tell you about the reflections on the image of oneself.

What can I do with images?

An image is a captured moment. In this day it’s easy to make several images within seconds to capture a moment. You can check which image you like the most and keep that one and share it. I think we are all guilty of making way too much pictures and/or selfies, than zoom in and out to make sure we do really have the ‘best’ moment to share with family, friends, and strangers. As a young teenager, I had a camera with a film roll. I could click 24 or 36 picture. Before pressing the button I made sure no one was in the way and double-checked if everything I wanted to capture would fit. That one click was precious, because I couldn’t take unlimited pictures. And I didn’t want to waste my precious film roll on not so significant moments. Those days are over, with our smartphones we can take as many pictures as we want and delete and share as we like.

The images we see trigger our emotions, an image can attract or repulse. When sharing pictures of ourselves we don’t want other people to be repulsed, so we choose the ‘best’ picture, the one we think would be most attractive to other people. In this digital age we can easily edit pictures to make them even ‘better’. Why do we do that? We are searching for perfection, we want to show others that we are doing good by looking good. That great profile picture on Facebook is what we want the world to see. Mostly with a smile in a beautiful environment. Not that picture in the morning after you had a restless night, or that picture when you had a bad hair day and didn’t even bother to fix it, and certainly not that one where you didn’t have your make-up on.

Image is more than a picture

We are building a perfect image from our not so perfect lives. We let people see the good in our lives, not the bad, and definitely not the ugly! Our image is built by more than a picture. Our image is built by our actions, our relationships, what we show people, our experiences, and our words. Only people with which we have an honest relationship see beyond the image. The image we work on building is one that is perfect. But we are not perfect, we are good. Not perfect. By striving to show everyone an image of ourselves that is perfect, we create expectations. And then we want to correspond to that expectations. We are setting a bar and raising it every time, to an extent that it’s absolutely exhausting to live up to the image we have created. It’s not possible to do everything perfectly and have it all together every single day. We have days that we don’t look as great as we want to, days that we don’t have the energy to go the extra mile, days that we don’t choose our words with enough care, days that we fail.

The person of the image

The image is the ideal representation of oneself. This image is different from the person, the person is more than the image. The image of oneself is linked to self-esteem. In the reality of life we are looking for recognition for things we do. If others praise us than we feel good about ourselves. But our self-esteem must not grow from other people praising our image, our self-esteem must grow from knowing that we are daughters of the Almighty God. Our identity is found in Jesus Christ, there we find the true image of oneself.

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. - 1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)

You are a child of God. He has chosen you and made you in His image (read more in Woman created in the image of God). Therefore, you don’t have to built an image, you need to find your true image. An image that has nothing to do with outward appearances, and all with the good in your heart. Accept your true image, your identity, with all your imperfections and goodness. You are good and God loves you.

About the community of Saint John

The community of Saint John is present in 22 countries on 5 continent and numbers nearly 800 Brothers and Sisters. The community of Saint John desires to be for Jesus in today’s Church what John was to Jesus in the Gospels. For more information about this community, go to their website: