When I was around fifteen years old, my youth group went to a theme park. I was an extremely introverted girl who had just come out of a difficult season. My parents divorced, we moved to a new state and I had gained a lot of weight during puberty—almost doubling my body weight in a year.
Needless to say, I had horrible self-esteem and my identity had been wrecked. I had very little understanding of my value. In fact, I lived in a constant state of feeling unworthy for anything, especially friendships. In my eyes, I was ugly, fat, stupid and worthless, and I didn’t know how to acquire significance.
Before leaving the theme park for the day, I saw a young man drawing caricatures. His drawings seemed to place value on all individuals represented on paper. I only had a little bit of money, but I wondered what it would feel like to be drawn, to be noticed, to be highlighted. So I quickly gave him my money and sat down on the chair. I stayed very still and looked straight ahead as the young man moved his pencil across the page while glancing at my face. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was desperate for any little nod of approval.
When he was done drawing, he handed me the image and instantly moved to the next person. I got out the chair and slowly walked toward the parking lot. I stared at the sketched image of me in awe. Reflecting on it now, the drawing was very simple. But at the moment, and in my bankrupt self-esteem, it was like salve on a raw heart. I looked beautiful.
I am pretty. I have value. Look, I have a drawing to prove it, I thought.
I showed the caricature to a few kids on the bus, but I could tell it meant very little to them. I sat in my chair for the two hours home and quietly stared at the paper. Finally, the negative words that filled my mind every day had some competition. Maybe I did have value–even if a little.
I wish I could sit on that bus with the young girl that I used to be and reveal her true image to her. I would explain that God is full on head over heels for her—that He loves her so much that He gave His life to save her. And that He pursues her every moment of every day. I would say that she has great purpose and that God has gifted her with destiny. I would fill her spirit with as many life-giving words as possible to disperse the ugly lies she believed about herself.
Finally, I would tell her that God’s Caricature of her is a masterpiece (Ephesians 2.10). She has been wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139.14). She is beautiful, interesting, intelligent and valuable. And she doesn’t have to earn approval because she has already been sketched on the Father’s hand: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” (Isaiah 49.16 NIV).
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31.3 NIV).