In the Eyes of the Beholder

I have often wondered what it means when we say “In the eyes of the beholder — ” Whose eyes are doing the beholding? I often wondered which was more important, someone beholding me or me beholding them. And where does the beholding myself come in to play?

For those that might not be sure of the definition of “beholding” it means to “look favorably upon or to gaze upon”. Now Jesus says that we should “Love our neighbor as ourselves — (Matthew 22:39). So that would mean we would have to behold ourselves favorably – meaning we must first love ourselves. Otherwise how can we possibly love someone else?

We have often found ourselves saying or hearing others say “I wish I looked like her/him.” “Does this shirt make me look to thin, to fat or to ugly?”… “Why cain’t I sing, dance, paint like them”… “I hate my body — I hate my (fill in the blanks)” And yes, boys and men do have the same issues. Try to remember what it was like to look in the mirror and dislike what you saw. I remember spending minute upon minute criticizing my features or my hair and trying to rationalize in my teenage and young adult mind how anyone else could possible think I was “cute”. I did not know anything about the psychological implications of self image and although I did know about being made in God’s image that did not help to understand that I was continually lowering my own ability to love myself by being so critical of myself.

I remember someone telling me that they noticed it was very hard for me to accept a compliment and when I thought about it they were right because I did not see the qualities in myself that others saw. Since then I’ve observed just how much of an obstacle self-criticism can be. If teenagers do not learn to appreciate her/his body, abilities and accomplishments, then they are likely to retain those issues into adulthood. God says that He created us in His own image. Now most of us believe that God is beautiful and kind and loving and that he loves us unconditionally, but we don’t equate that to ourselves or how others see and feel about us. We spend much money trying to remake ourselves into our own image – what we think we should look like. For instance – a woman who cannot accept God’s creative blueprint for her body will have a hard time accepting the honest love and admiration of a man. If he tells her that she is beautiful, she has to assume that he’s either lying or blind. If a man does not have faith in his own accomplishments and abilities, why should he believe it when friends and family tell him he is a great husband, dad, deacon, piano player, auto mechanic etc .

People (men and women) who are self-depreciating are rarely able to receive the gift of a sincere compliment, the honest love of others and the unconditional love of God. They are constantly hindered in their interactions with others because they can’t stop worrying about their own image. So many of us are so busy worrying about how others may see us that we forget that others can sense we see ourselves as inadequate and unattractive. The term “in the eye of the beholder” is simply based on how we see ourselves in contrast to how another sees us. Because we are beholding ourselves so critically and harshly, we can not understand how someone else can see the beauty in us.

When we were created – on the day we were born AND every day that we wake up God says “She is good – He is good” (Gen 1:31). If we allow God to live in our spirits, we will begin to see more good and beauty in ourselves. Ask your spouse, your children, your boss, your friend what is it that they see in you? You will be surprise to know that they love you just because you are you, because you are a kind, generous, talented person – but most of all because you are BEAUTIFUL – inside and out. I tried it and it worked wonders for my self image.

As we begin this new day, remember to BEHOLD YOURSELF and you will see the image of God – and as a precious stone like jasper and clear as crystal … YOU are Beauty. (Rev 21:11).

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