Do Your Children Really Know Who They Are?
Twentieth-century illustrator Norman Rockwell was famous for his iconic depictions of everyday life in America. His distinctive style and subject matter captured the optimism and can-do spirit of his time, most notably in the 322 original covers he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine.
For the March 6, 1954 issue, Rockwell painted “Girl at Mirror,” one of his most enduring images. In this picture, a young girl sits on a stool and studies herself in a large mirror propped up against a chair. In her lap is a magazine open to a full-page photo of the movie star Jane Russell. Nearby are a tossed-aside doll, a comb, a hairbrush, and some cosmetics. There’s a bittersweet humor to the image of a little girl coming to terms with the hard fact that the mirror refuses to give back the glamorous image she sees in the magazine.
But the girl also seems to be asking, Who am I? Who will I be when I grow up? Will anyone love me? These are not just the jumping-off point for daydreams and childhood fantasies; they’re important questions for both girls and boys. Your children are probably already asking these same questions. But where are they going for the answers? Their friends? YouTube? Snapchat?
In Rockwell’s painting, the mirror and the magazine represent a choice every person must make. Will we try to please the world and live up to an impossible standard of beauty and success portrayed in TV shows and movies? Or will we please God by allowing Him to make us into the unique person He created each of us to be?
Your children need to understand they are not the sum of the clothes they wear, the things they own, the friends they make, or the honors they earn in life. They are much, much more. Each of them is created in the image of God. Only when they truly understand what this means can they begin to know who they are and why they were put on this earth.
The Bible tells us, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). This means God made each of us to be like Him in many ways. Does this mean your daughter has eyes like His? Do your son and God both have brown, curly hair that frizzes when it rains? Of course not. Being made in God’s image does not mean that any of us physically resembles God. After all, God is spirit (John 4:24) and cannot be seen (1 Timothy 6:16). Rather, being made in God’s image means that He created us with certain characteristics, or attributes, that God Himself possesses. In some ways we are like God; in other ways, we are not. For example, people are not omniscient or omnipotent, all-knowing or all-powerful. And though it may sometimes seem like your children are everywhere at once (except at bedtime, when they’re nowhere to be found), they are not omnipresent, though God is.
So how then are people like God? First of all, we need to understand that God is a personal being, not a mystical field of energy like the Force in Star Wars. A person has a mind, emotions, a will, a conscience, creativity, and a spirit. Does God have these things? Let’s see:
- God is creative (Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:11).
- God has thoughts (Isaiah 55:8–9; Psalm 139:17–18).
- God has feelings (Genesis 6:5–6; Zephaniah 3:17).
- God makes choices (Deuteronomy 7:6–8; John 6:38).
- God knows right from wrong (Genesis 3:22; Job 34:12).
- God is a spiritual being (John 4:24; Romans 8:16).
As a person, each of us has the ability and desire to create, we can think and know things with our minds, we can feel emotion, we make choices, and we know the difference between right and wrong. We each have a spirit, created by God, that will live on for all eternity. These qualities separate people from the animal kingdom and set us above all other creatures on earth. We are God’s masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10).
Sadly, when sin entered the world, our bodies, hearts, and minds became corrupted, and we began to think ungodly things and express our feelings in sinful ways. We began to make poor choices based on lies and half-truths, and we were spiritually separated from our Creator. We were no longer at peace with God, with ourselves, with one another, or with our environment. But when God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to live a life free from sin, then take the punishment we deserved on Himself, He cleared the way for our sin to be forgiven and our fellowship with God to be restored. This is our salvation, a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-10), and He gives those who choose to accept that gift “the right to become the children of God.” (John 1:11–13).
The moment your child first believes that Jesus is the one true Son of God and that He died to pay the price for his or her sins, your child becomes a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As believers, your children are called to live a new life in which they become more and more like the One who made them (Colossians 3:10).
Just who are these new creations they’ve become? Some people think being a Christian is about going to church on Sundays or driving around with a “Beam Me Up, Jesus!” bumper sticker on your car. Many think it’s about following a list of rules or trying to be good all the time. But being a Christian is not defined by rules or rituals or even religion. Your children need to know and believe what God says about them as new creations. After all, it’s not what we do that determines who we are; it’s who we believe we are that determines what we will do.
Here is some of what God says about every follower of Christ
- They are at peace with God (Romans 5:1).
- They have been made holy and set free from sin (1 Corinthians 1:30).
- They are members of His family (Ephesians 2:19).
- They are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
- They are His ambassadors (Acts 1:8).
- They have the authority to overcome all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19).
Your children need to understand who they truly are in Christ—to see themselves the way God sees them. Of course, they can try to “act” the way they think a Christian is supposed to behave. They can dress the part and put on a good show for their friends. But they cannot consistently live and think and act in a way that’s different from how they really see themselves. If deep down your daughter thinks she’s worthless, she will probably live and make choices as if she is worthless. If your son thinks he’s a loser, he will probably live and make choices as though he is a loser.
Satan can do nothing to damage your child’s position as a son or daughter of God. But if he can deceive your children into believing his lies—that God wants nothing to do with them, that they’re nobody and will never amount to anything as Christians—then they will stumble through life, acting like they’re nobody special. If the devil can make them believe they’re no different from the rest of the world, then they will behave no differently from those who reject God. However, if they see themselves as children of the Most High God—if they believe and accept all that this means—1 John 5:3–5 promises they will be able to live in victory and overcome this world!
As homeschoolers, we prepare our children for life outside the home by teaching them how to do their own laundry, cook their own meals, and balance their checkbooks. But are you helping your kids to answer the truly important questions of life? Are you teaching them to “reflect the Lord’s glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18), to reveal His presence and His love to a world desperately in need of His salvation? Are you teaching them to walk through life with their heads held high, not in haughtiness but in confidence, secure in the knowledge that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them (Philippians 4:13)?
A first-rate home education in math, science, history, and English may prepare them for future academic achievement and give them a head start in their careers. But no amount of worldly success will bring them peace and give them hope and a future like an intimate relationship with the God who made them. Give your children a true head start in life by providing them with a biblical understanding of what it means to be made in the image of the Most High God.
If you enjoyed this article by David Webb, co-author of the What We Believe series, check out all of the books in the series at Apologia.com.
David Webb is a homeschool dad, a co-author of Apologia’s award-winning curriculum the What We Believe series, and serves as the executive editor at Apologia Educational Ministries. He teaches the What We Believe series as an instructor with Apologia Online Academy. In addition to the four books, he has authored with John Hay of Summit Ministries.