Women of faith tend to put people on pedestals. Biblical figures and saints become images of idealized perfection, in a category all to their own – so high up, we could never reach them. Even our contemporaries can be raised up to this status.
We compare ourselves to these individuals and come up short. Our acts of faith aren’t dramatic enough. Our pain isn’t severe enough. We’re always going to be “not enough”, because we aren’t seeing ourselves through the loving eyes of God. Our measuring stick always gets in the way. We create these categories in our minds. This group is special and worthy because of their acts of goodness or their noble suffering. They are set apart and I am not a part of that group. I don’t belong there.
It’s so important to see how this pedestal mentality—this super-sized admiration—affects our relationship with God. How it colors how we see ourselves in God’s plan and design. Or more accurately, where we see ourselves in God’s plan.
Are there times we don’t see ourselves anywhere at all?
The measuring stick comes out again. We measure the idealized perfection of these saintly figures against “whatever we are.” If you found your way to this blog post today, I want you to believe that you matter! That what you do matters. And the reason I can be so confident in saying this is because of what I call the three c’s.
God CREATED you.
God CHOSE you.
God CALLED you.
God CREATED you:
The best way to make this shift in our thinking is to begin with pondering our own creation. God created us from the dust and breathed life into us. Genesis 2:7 says “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” Isn’t that beautiful? Take a moment to picture the God of Love breathing Spirit into you at the moment of your creation. How could anyone feel small or ordinary or inadequate knowing that?
We also know that God created us in His own image. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” That is no small thing! Our very existence is an intimate act of union with our Creator.
God CHOSE you:
St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4) God chose us. How beautiful! About 20 years ago I attended a retreat (and I’m sorry to say that I no longer remember the name of the speaker,) but she said something that hit me like a bolt of lightning because it had truly never occured to me: “God has a plan and a purpose for you. And He made you exactly the way He needs you to be.” I have never forgotten this quote and I try to incorporate it into almost every retreat I give, particularly to women and young girls.
“God has a plan and a purpose for you.
And He made you exactly the way He needs you to be.”
It all but destroys the measuring stick. God’s love doesn’t measure. It doesn’t tally results or put us in a pecking order. God’s love has no conditions. The rules about who is loveable and who is not are erased. Our God does not compare, but instead offers us a love that is perfect and selfless. It isn’t something we receive only if we deserve it. It’s a gift freely given.
God CALLED you:
What are we being called to do? Who are we being called to be? These aren’t easy questions to answer! A good place to start is by recognizing your gifts. Remember: God made you exactly the way He needs you to be!
In my experience, most women are not good at recognizing our gifts. In fact, some of us could earn an Olympic medal in pointing out our own flaws. But when it comes to knowing what we’re good at…our tongues get tied. Our minds draw a blank. The measuring stick comes out again.
And so I challenge you today to answer the question: What am I good at? I promise you it’s not arrogance or vanity to ponder this question. It’s a simple acknowledgment of how you’ve been gifted by God. You can express it with a sense of gratitude. If you’re really struggling answering this question, I would suggest that you ask someone you love to answer it. What am I good at? You might be surprised at what they tell you.
So the next time you think about the women you have put up on a pedestal, look in the mirror instead, and see yourself with the eyes of God. Repeat these words:
God created ME.
God chose ME.
God called ME.
Background photo by Vincentiu Solomon on Unsplash