Mandy Erskine is an international Catholic speaker and inspirational storyteller. She has been speaking and sharing her Catholic faith and passion for Chastity for over 10 years. Her focus is restoring our human dignity through sharing the truth about God, who created us to be male and female in his image and likeness. She has been described as inspiring, refreshing, funny, and life-changing.
What does Self-Image have to do with Chastity?
Everything! I have struggled with self-image most of my life. Even though I know better, I still fall into the traps the world sets for us. It seems that a lot of people fall into the trap of finding their self-worth in relationships. Many believe the lies that women must be sexually alluring and that guys have a natural right to use women or view them as objects. When I fall into these traps, I compare myself to others, which makes me think I am unworthy of anyone’s love and attention.
The other night I was spending time crying out to God about my current situation, and I heard him say “I love you.” To which I answered, “Why?” Then I rattled off a litany of reasons why I think I’m unlovable. As I sat down to think about the words coming out of my mouth, I realized I had fallen into the trap, the trap of lies.
Here’s the thing: If we believe the lies—we’re not good enough, we don’t have what it takes, we will never find what we’re looking for, we have too much baggage or have already made mistakes so no one will ever want us, etc.—then we will continue to see more and more destruction. We will have more unwed parents, abortion will still be an option, more hearts will be broken, and more people will think sex equals love. We will continue to be confused and searching in all the wrong places for what we truly desire.
When we start to learn, to know, and to believe the truth about who God created us to be, the easier it is to live a life in the fullness of chastity. When we see ourselves as valuable, beyond price, important, wanted, and needed, we will start respecting ourselves and those around us more. We may even begin to learn, know, and love ourselves and others more like God knows and loves each of us. We will be able to look ourselves in the mirror and see the face of God looking back at us. Our posture will change. Instead of walking around like zombies, we will walk with confidence, knowing we are meant for greatness, because God created us.
One night, when I was having this repeated conversation with God about my purpose or worth, I asked God to tell me what he thought of me. I felt inspired to open my Bible and turn to the book of Wisdom. (The words in italics I’ve changed.) “For in me there is a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible . . . for I am the breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty . . . for I am a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and image of his goodness . . . for I am more beautiful than the sun, and excel every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light I am found to be superior” (Wis. 7:22b, 25a, 26, 29). When I read these words, I was in tears, because they are absolute truth, not only for me but also for everyone.
Read those words again. We are made intelligent, holy, unique, loving the good, keen, irresistible (my favorite); we are the breath of the power of God, a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty, a reflection of eternal light, a spotless—yes, spotless—mirror of the working of God, and image of his goodness. We learned in Genesis 1:26 that God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” If we are made in God’s image and likeness, how could we ever doubt our awesomeness? Whenever I’m stuck in the trap, I read this verse in Wisdom over and over and over again. I’ve even posted it on my mirror to remind myself I am irresistible, an image of his goodness, more beautiful than the sun, etc. This verse helps pull me out of the pit of lies and douses me with a supernatural confidence that I rock!
We are made out of and for love. God wants to pour his love down on us, to soak us with it. Too often we are too focused on what we are unhappy about to spend time knowing and receiving that love. Like each and every one of us, God wants to be loved. He wants to be our priority; he wants to be the reason we get up in the morning. When we begin to deepen our friendship with him, we will begin to really know and understand our value, our importance, and our purpose. This will help us to start to live the fullness of chastity, physically and emotionally. This will strengthen us to avoid the traps that are placed in our way.
We should take the time daily to ask God to show us the truth of who we are in his eyes. If we come to him with open hearts to receive his words of affection, it will really start to change our lives. He will show us and build up the great gifts he bestowed on us at our creation. We are intelligent, unique, holy, irresistible, an image of his goodness, irresistible, and irreplaceable.
No one ever in the history of the world is made like each of us, and no one ever again will be made like us. Own it, learn it, love it, share it, be confident in knowing we are made all good!