If I were to begin to say, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me…” and stop this psalm quote most Christians would be able to finish that opening line. “You know when I sit and when I rise…” Some of us would be able to quote all 24 verses of Psalm 139 but most would struggle. And it’s no surprise that many consider Psalm 139 to be the “crown of psalms.” It’s a beautiful proclamation of an all-knowing, all powerful, and all present God. And not only that he is those things but that he is intimately involved in our lives. He created us, knows our every step, and knows when our last breath will be taken. And while this psalm is so deep for various reasons I’m drawn to verse 14. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
I have always struggled with body image. As a kid I was very active in sports and other activities but I was the bigger kid in the group. And while nobody made fun of me for my weight it was something that I was always aware of. I remember in High School getting ready for a soccer match and having to change in front of my best friend – and he asked why I had these marks on my stomach. His question was if I got hit with a ball in the gut and that if that impact left the marks that he sees. My response? Yes. There wasn’t any harm or malice in his question and I knew what they were but those stretch marks were embarassing. And while my body image didn’t effect relationships with people, in my mind it did. In High School the thought was that this girl wouldn’t like me because I didn’t look like ______. When I went to college those thoughts continued to plague me. Did they affect relationships with friends or girls and dating? No. But my weight and my looks still weighed heavy (pun intended) on my mind. Even though I had all those things I wanted I kept telling myself that my weight mattered. Those fears were never affirmed by others but they remained present in my mind
Am I alone? I think not. I know people struggle with other physical features that I don’t struggle with. Maybe you think that your nose is too big, too wide, or too small. Maybe you think your ears are too big or stick out farther than you think they should. The reality is that many of us have an idea, or understanding, of what we should look like and it’s hard to fathom why God would create us to look like we do and be so different than everybody else.
Verse 14 is this beautiful acknowledgement by David that it is God who created him. David admits that all that God creates is wonderful and good and that he knows it. That God, the one who created the heavens and the earth and the beautiful things that they are…created him too. For those, like me, who struggle with how they look, do we recognize God’s weaving of our bodies into this world? Do we proclaim that we are beautiful in who we are and how we look? Many of us, like me, struggle with this idea that God would create “this” and call it “good” but in reality he did. It’s easy to declare and yet tough to swallow
As I read this psalm it’s clear to me that David struggles too. David declares in verse 5 that, “You hem me in behind and before…” What an interesting choice of word and imagery – but it makes sense. To “hem” something means that you sew it to restrict movement. So David is declaring to God that while he knows that he struggles he also knows that God hemmed him in so that he doesn’t break away from him. His being “hemmed” in means that he cannot fight what God knows and sees in him. And in this psalm David does come around to the peace of God’s creation of him. He still struggles but his declaration in verse 17 is that God’s thoughts are higher than his and his ways are more beautiful and wonderful. God, what you created is marvelous in YOUR eyes. This is a wonderful reminder of where we need to be in our own view of self – but it is still a struggle.
We need to be “OK” with how God created us. I’m not going to say that we shouldn’t try to be healthier or better but we need to love who God created. We need to love ourselves. We need to see the beauty of us as God does. This will be a struggle for me for my whole life but the daily reminder of God’s creation of me is stronger than my personal struggles. David declares it in verse 17 “how precious to me are your thoughts, God!” Yes, how precious are your thoughts of ME God. Your beautiful hands created, your image was placed within me, and you called me your own. I too am wonderfully made.
Just my 2 cents
PS, I love hearing from you and so please leave me a comment – and please share this blog if you find it helpful…especially in this case since I KNOW I’m not alone in my “image” of self.