Have you ever looked at yourself through the eyes of someone else, trying to figure out what they are thinking of you? For many years I entered, uninvited, into the minds of others and evaluated myself through their eyes and standards, and used their measuring sticks to determine my worth.
I am not sure why I started doing this. Perhaps it was because I often heard my mother say, “What would ‘so and so’ think?” I guess I tried to imagine what ‘so and so’ was thinking, never realizing the destructive outcome of climbing into someone else's mind.
Because I repeatedly entered in people’s minds and placed high regard on what they were thinking, I basically made them and their opinions an idol, giving them power to tell me who I was; whether I was pretty enough, smart enough, good enough...or just simply enough.
When looking to others to tell me who I was, I never knew from one day to the next if I would measure up. I didn’t recognize that every person had a different standard, a different measuring stick, and that I could never meet all their varying demands.
Trying to please others I ended up living in a lot of fear. I never saw or felt the kind of deep acceptance and unconditional love that I longed for when I looked into the eyes of others, and I believed that I would never be truly loved.
At 13 years of age I met Jesus, and began to feel the balm of acceptance as I read His living word that told me about His deep, unfailing love and the sacrifice He had made for me. Little by little I started seeing the effects of His love in my life, but as a young teenager I still placed high value on what others thought of me, and I continued to climb into their minds and judge myself by their standard.
In time, God got my attention and gently revealed to me that my focus was in the wrong place. One day when I was tired of trying to please others and weary of the fear that had crept into my life, I cried out to Him and asked Him how I could be free, He simply whispered, “Look at Me”.
I didn’t really want to look at Him. Truthfully, I was afraid. I didn’t want to see what I had seen in the eyes of my parents, or my teachers or others who had used their measuring sticks and found me wanting.
Through a beautiful process, He carefully showed me that the judgments of others didn’t define my worth. He revealed that what they thought about me, (or what I thought they thought about me), was insignificant and based on false measuring sticks which were founded on faulty belief systems.
He helped me to quit idolizing others and their opinions and to turn to Him, to look at Him. Once I did turn and look at Him, I was caught off guard by His gaze. He wasn’t gazing with a furrowed brow or a disappointed glare. No, He was gazing with tenderness and delight.
He surprised and baffled me through intimate encounters, showing me how differently He sees me, helping me to believe the unbelievable—He delights in me! Even in my imperfect state! He gazes at me with pleasure and invites me to gaze back at Him and let His holy, love-drenched, unchanging gaze penetrate the lies and transform me into His image— into who He says I am.
So I encourage you, if you are weary of striving for that elusive approval, turn your eyes away from others and yourself. Gaze at Jesus, your lovesick Bridegroom who gave up everything for you. Lift your face to your devoted Father who loves you as He loves His own Son. Wonder at the Holy Spirit, who lives within you and is pursuing intimate fellowship. Let their eyes be your mirror. They are the only Ones who truly know who you are, and have the power to transform you into the glorious child that they already see.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
- Cathy Stallings
Photo by Ron Lach