the art of looking in the mirror

If you haven’t seen the new documentary “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix yet, I highly recommend you watch it. 

The film brilliantly illustrates and exposes the significant impact social media and fake news is having on our society as a whole.


In my attempt to process the case made by “The Social Dilemma,” I boiled the entire narrative down into one word: Image. 


The five questions social media begs are:

  1. How do I see myself?

  2. How do you see yourself?

  3. How do I want you to see me?

  4. How do you want me to see you?

  5. How do we actually see each other?

Two of the most staggering statistics in the documentary are the increasing rates of non-fatal self harm hospitalizations and suicides in the youngest generation of girls. 


According to the CDC, non-fatal self harm hospitalization rates have tripled in females age 10-14 in the past decade while suicide rates in the same time period and age group have increased more than 150%.

Source: CDC/The Social Dilemma

If these statistics don’t rip your heart out, I don’t know what will. 


This is much more than a conversation about us being addicted to our phones, this is a conversation of life and death.


I argue the substantial increase in self harm and suicide in this demographic and others is caused by an equally decreasing sense of self-image. 


Who are you?


You used to be the person reflected in the mirror. A one for one match. What you see is what you get. 

Today, we seem to hold an ideal version of ourselves that we believe the world wants to see.


When our reflection is less than the character we believe the audience came to see, our confidence plummets and mental, emotional, and even physical harm can ensue. 

As one of the smartest people I’ve met once told me, "If you’re comparing against an ideal, give up now."


You’ll never be able to outrun an ideal version of anyone, much less yourself. 


In one of my previous blogs, "the art of truth" I talk about how truth acts as a reference point.


This reference point allows us to know where we are in relation to the truth, but if we deny the existence of or ignore the reference point, we’ll be perpetually lost at sea. 


What is the reference point for the truth of who we are as individuals?


God. 


But what does God look like? 


Us.


You might be thinking, “No way! God is God. I’ve seen him in paintings and on the Sistine Chapel ceiling! You know, the God with the long white beard, the toned muscles and dressed in all white. That God looks like a God, not like me!”

While this version has become a baseline for our artistic renderings of God, how do we know that He actually looks like that? 


Let us not try to describe God, but rather let us allow God to describe himself. What we find might surprise you.


In Genesis 1, God spends five days creating what we know as the universe.


On the first day, God created the Heavens, Earth, light and darkness and/or day and night. And it was good.

On the second, He created the sky, evening, and morning. And it was good.

The third day, God created the land, the sea, and vegetation. And it was good.

On the fourth day, God created birds and sea creatures, and it too was good.


But the fifth day was coming, and this day God would do his finest work. After creating land animals, God proposes a profound idea. 


“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” 

Genesis 1:26-27


Let’s break this passage down a bit. 


Much of the Old Testament can be misconstrued as pointlessly repetitive.


What many see as a weakness of the text is actually one of its greatest features. Repetitive language in the prose is anything but pointless. Each is a clue.


Don’t miss what the author is trying to tell us here.


In one sentence, the author of Genesis (Moses) uses the plural pronouns “us” and “our” three times. This is no mistake.


If God had not made human beings yet, this statement begs two very important questions:

  1. Why are God's pronouns plural? (Us and Our)

  2. Who is He talking to?

The answer to both: Jesus


The source: John


In Chapter 1 of the Gospel of John, we read, 


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1-5


The Father was accompanied by His Son in the beginning.


God’s language remains consistently plural. "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.."

It is the author who changes to the singular pronoun of “His” in verse 27, not God. 


What does this mean?


This means Jesus looks like God. And because God created us in His own image as well, so do we


Just as we resemble our own biological father, we resemble our heavenly Father that much more.


You see, God doesn't describe himself. Rather, He creates us in his image so that we might see Him through us.


When looking back at what He had created in mankind God changes his language and refers to it as very good.”

But what are the implications of this?


We are very good. 


No, not as individuals. That’s pretty obvious. Keep reading in Genesis and it won’t take you long to lose faith in humanity. 


We are very good because He is very good and because we resemble Him.


This brings us back to the five questions social media begs:

  1. How do I see myself? 

  2. How do you see yourself?

  3. How do I want you to see me?

  4. How do you want me to see you?

  5. How do we actually see each other?

Do I see God in my reflection? 

Do you see God in your reflection? 

Do you see God in me? 

Do I see God in you? 

Do we actually see each other as the beloved sons and daughters of our creator? 


If we answer no to any of these questions, it is our sight that fails us, not the image itself.


How would the self-harm and suicide rates look if we saw ourselves and others as the cherished and perfectly designed offspring of a loving and all-powerful God?


It’s not our image which social media and fake news altered, it’s our vision. 


What we see hasn’t changed, but how we see it has. 


He sees you in the mirror. Do you see him?


Abundantly,


hw


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