We sometimes make comments about people in fun without thinking about the person being teased but I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of these silly remarks, “You have black gums; you look like a gorilla.” I remember these phrases well. At school, people used to make fun of my colour and call me all sorts of names. Even though I tried to ignore them and looked like they had no effect on me, they actually did. I still remember how much they hurt and how sad and lonely I felt. These comments had such a profound effect on me that I started to get aggressive even at the mention of my colour or my body shape, because that’s the only way that I knew how to deal with it. I still remember when my mum called me a “bull” when we were having an argument and I was so sensitive that I considered it an attack on my colour and it provoked all the negative emotions in me again. I thought that my own mother was putting me down like the others. As I grew older, I became even more sensitive about my looks. Another time an adult jokingly said “You are so black, that face-paint would not show up on you” and I felt really angry with him; I wanted him punished for his comment, whether it was a joke or not.
I FELT WORTHLESS
At school, when I appeared in school plays, the teachers used to plaster me with foundation to make me look fairer so that the audience could see me. I felt that the cultural view was that being dark skinned was somehow seen as lower class, and the combination of all these factors made me feel worthless. It meant that I had to fight for myself, and I became even more aggressive as a way to counter any comments about my looks. Every time someone said something about my appearance I felt worthless and unwanted. When I looked in the mirror, I always thought, “if only my skin was lighter”, “if I could change my face a tiny bit” or “if I could just change my body somehow.” I felt inferior to everyone. I still remember the times when I used to come home and just cry to my parents, and ask them why God had created me looking like this.
WE BELONG TO GOD
But God had been watching over me all the time and he heard my cries. My inferiority complex was completely taken away when I poured out my heart to him in the Blessed Sacrament. He healed my inner wounds and gave me a new outlook on life through the Gospel. I remember hearing a talk about the story in Luke 20:22-26 when Jesus was asked if they should pay their taxes he said, “Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?” They said, “The emperor’s”. He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. I realized that if someone had asked Jesus, “What belongs to God?” Jesus would have said, “Whose image is on you?”
THE IMAGE OF THE PERFECT ONE
In the Bible it says in Genesis 1:27 that God created mankind in his own image. This means that whatever colour or shape we are, it is in God’s image that we have been created. God is the perfect being, he is beautiful and there is nothing bad or wrong in him. So if we are created in the most perfect image, then we ourselves are beautiful. No matter what anyone says, we should always remember that we are created in the image of God.
CHILDREN OF GOD
God created everything, including the angels, but he only created human beings in his own image. When God checks our reflection in the mirror, he sees himself in us. St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:16 “We are the temple of the living God,” because in every human being, there is a part that is put there by God himself. So whenever we look at ourselves in the mirror, we should not see ourselves, but the creator who created us. God says to us, “I will be your father; you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” We are children of God and we have that heavenly and royal blood flowing in us, and so we are inheritors of the Kingdom of God. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and every part of our body, even our smile, make up that temple where God dwells. So we should never worry about our looks, because God has given us the appearance that he sculpted in his own image and we are beautiful in his eyes.
THE BEAUTY OF THE HEART
My dad always said that it was not the way you look or the colour of your skin that matters, but the state of your heart, is it loving and forgiving? What is the point if we look amazing on the outside, but our heart is bitter and ugly? What is the point if we are fair on the outside, but have a dark heart? When we die, God does not look at our appearance or the colour of our skin, he looks at our hearts. When God wanted to choose a king for Israel, he sent Samuel to Jesse’s house. There Samuel met Eliab the eldest son of Jesse, and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” (1 samuel: 16-6,7) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
WE ARE PRECIOUS
We are beautiful because God is beautiful and he made each one of us beautiful and we are precious to him. We are the diamond that he wanted the most and he has carved a special place for each one of us on his crown. He polished us and cut us in a special way, each in our own unique shape and colour to fit in to his perfect and most expensive crown of jewels. He says in Isaiah 43:4 “You are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.” This shows the depths of his love, that he is ready to give nations and people for us. Which human person can do that for us? God loves us so much that he has inscribed our names on the palm of his hands (Isaiah 49:16). He then went another step, and gave up his own Son for us. His love for us exceeds that which we can ever imagine.
BUILDING OUR CONFIDENCE
◗ To feel better about ourselves we should thank the Lord for creating us. “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, that I know very well.” (Psalm 139:13-14) Remember that we have been created by God in his image and likeness and he loves us just as we are.
◗ Look in the mirror and repeat this verse from Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
◗ We should make a decision never to feel depressed or inferior because of the way we look, because we have the Holy Spirit of God within us. Instead, we should be filled with joy and confidence to be a temple of the Holy Spirit and to show others the glory of God. St. Paul says in Ephesians 4:24 “Clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
◗ When we feel sad or lonely, God will send his angels to comfort us. He has already given us his Mother to console us, and the Holy Spirit to be our counsellor. He is with us at all times and he values us more than anything. If we pray to him and pour out our worries and concerns he will comfort us and help us to feel better about ourselves.
Written by : Mathew James