In keeping with the accordance of Janathon, I ran 4 miles today. I wanted to do more, but I know what awaits me tomorrow: killer kettlebells. I need to be up for it. It was a good run, outside in the damp, stagnant air. On the bright side, I saw several cats. Their eyes said it all: “Foolish human! Conserve your energy and stay warm!” They stayed curled up at their posts, atop railings and mailboxes. Smart kitties.
I’ve been thinking about becoming lately. Yesterday, I wrote about what it costs us to change. I’ve been struck more and more by the metamorphose of transformation. The other night, Jonathon and I finally watched “The King’s Speech” with Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter. The new King Albert, saddled with a hefty speech impediment, needed to become a regular orator. But he didn’t know how. His journey from fear to confidence intrigued me. What spurs us from here to there?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
Ms. Williamson makes a good point. I find most of her writing is a bit too New Age for me, ignoring the fallen quality of our nature and inciting us to change in our own strength. Yet the image of God – imago Dei – resides in all of us. This is not the same as Jesus in us; that comes from our surrender to His work on the cross. However, humans made in God’s image comes straight out of Genesis: So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Gen. 1:27.
What does this “image” mean? If we use the Bible to define the passage, we pick up a few things.
For you made us only a little lower than God, and you crowned us with glory and honor. You put us in charge of everything you made, giving us authority over all things — the sheep and the cattle and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. – Psalm 8:5-7
This is the history of the descendants of Adam. When God created people, he made them in the likeness of God. – Genesis 5:1
I discovered that God created people to be upright, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path. – Ecclesiastes 7:29
I don’t know about you, but I’m still unclear about what all this means. I looked up a Matthew Henry commentary and found this: Man was to be a creature different from all that had been hitherto made. Flesh and spirit, heaven and earth, must be put together in him. God said, Let us make man. Man, when he was made, was to glorify the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost…It is the soul of man that especially bears God’s image. Man was made upright, Ecc. 7:29. His understanding saw Divine things clearly and truly; there were no errors or mistakes in his knowledge; his will consented at once, and in all things, to the will of God. His affections were all regular, and he had no bad appetites or passions. His thoughts were easily brought and fixed to the best subjects. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents in having the image of God upon them.
This is a great jumping-off place. No disrespect to Mr. Henry, but I see much more than that. It’s doing and it’s being. I see our words have the power to create (let there be light!) and to kill. I see the enormous power – good and bad – inherent in our free will. And the very first calling of man was to take care of the earth. Adam and Eve got to be the caretakers of the Garden of Eden. Growing our own food and cultivating flowers bring joy and sustenance. It’s a picture of our own potential as people.
If we truly believe we’re made in God’s image, let’s act on it. Let’s be “brilliant, talented, gorgeous and fabulous”. No more “playing small”. No more fear. We were made for this.