Many of us have a deeply flawed self-image because, too often, we are harsher on ourselves than we need to be. The truth is, because we are created in God’s image, we are more beautiful than we think.
The Discussion Starter:
Dove is a company that has sold beauty products for decades, but recently, they’ve added a dimension to themselves that seeks to help their customers find their own inner beauty. Their previous videos and campaigns
have been quite helpful in giving young people a more well-rounded understanding of beauty. This video does much of the same.
In this clip, a forensic artist sits down with women he cannot see and asks them to describe themselves. They tend to focus on their flaws instead of their beauty. When the artist is finished, the woman is dismissed, and another person who knows the same woman comes in and sits down in the same chair. That person is then asked by the forensic artist to describe the same woman. What happens is pretty amazing: the person describing the woman tends to focus on her beauty instead of her flaws.
The clip can be found online at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk&feature=youtu.be
What a cool experiment. Take Person A, have her describe herself, then take another person and have him or her describe Person A. I’m not sure if any of us would have guessed that there would be so many differences in how people see themselves and how others see them. But if the truth is told, you and I may do the exact same thing if the experiment were conducted on us. That’s because many of us have a deeply flawed self-image. Oftentimes, we are harsher on ourselves than we need to be. The truth is, because we are created in God’s image, we are more beautiful than we think. Let’s take a look at the Bible for confirmation of this reality.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and describe the worst/funniest picture of ourselves.
- ASK A FEW: When describing themselves to the artist, did the ladies focus on the good things about themselves or their flaws? Why do you think that was?
- ASK A FEW: What were some of the ways/words they used to describe themselves?
- ASK A FEW: How did the description of the person describing the ladies differ from their own description?
- ASK A FEW: Do you think this is a problem that only women have? Explain.
- ASK A FEW: One woman said that she should be more grateful for her natural beauty because of how deeply it impacts so many other aspects of life. Do you agree? Does our perception of our own beauty impact other areas of our lives? If so, how?
- ASK A FEW: Can you define “self-image”?
- ASK A FEW: Do most people have a generally high self-image or a generally low self-image? How can you tell?
Read the following passage:
ASK A FEW: David, the psalmist, says that God created our “inmost being.” What do you think that is?
ASK A FEW: What does David mean when he declares “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”?
ASK A FEW: Where does David seem to get his “self-image” from and how can you tell? (Leaders – It seems as though David is focused on what God thinks of him. He says that God created him and that the thought of God is precious to him. It seems as though David is overwhelmed with the goodness of God.)
ASK A FEW: Do you think that some people get their “self-image” from others…in spite of it being called our “SELF-image”? (Leaders – Absolutely! We all do this. Even the ladies in the video did this. “My mom said I had a….” “When I was young I was called….” “Everybody says that I am….” These kind of statements show us that our self-image is not what WE THINK of ourselves, but what WE THINK OTHERS THINK of us. That’s a big, big difference!)
Psalm 139:13-18 (NIV)
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
ASK A FEW: How would you describe God’s appearance? Since we are created in HIS image, how would you describe us?
ASK A FEW: Do you think that we sometimes take our beauty for granted? Do you think that you and I sometimes focus on our negatives instead of our positives? Explain.
AROUND THE CIRCLE: The video closed with the following words: You are more beautiful than you think. Do you agree or disagree and why?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What will you do these next few days to focus on the beauty that God has given you instead of all the hurtful and incorrect words others have used to describe you?
Though I don’t know for certain, most of us in this room could probably use a boost when it comes to our self-image. Like the ladies in the clip, we’ve heard all that’s wrong with us for so long that we’ve begun to believe it and focus on that entirely. When that happens, we begin to lose sight of the God-given beauty that we have. That’s a shame.
Fortunately, there are people in our lives that know how to spot our beauty. In the clip, I was amazed, like some of you, to hear the other people describe the first person. They talked about their hair, their smile, the way their eyes lit up, and so on. Their words and descriptions were sooooo different from the original person’s words and descriptions. The cool thing is, those other people weren’t just “being nice” or saying “the right thing.” They just described what they saw.
And it changed the way the original person thought of themselves.
Let’s do something rather risky for a moment. Is that OK?
I’d like for us to get into groups of 3 and do the same thing we saw in the clip. I want two of the students in the group to describe all the beautiful/handsome qualities of the first person. Feel free to talk about outer beauty and inner beauty, as well. I’ll give you about 2 minutes to do that. Then, we’ll move on to the second person in the group and do the same thing. Finally, the third person in the group will get a chance to hear about his/her beautiful qualities.
(Leaders – This will take a total of about 7 minutes to do. Let the students pick their groups and give them the appropriate amount of time to do this. You might want to prepare for some fairly emotional responses/reactions to this exercise.)
I hope you heard truth just now. No matter what the rest of your life has sounded like and looked like, and no matter what you have believed until now, I hope you heard the truth. The truth is, you are created in God’s image, and since God is majestic beyond words or comparison, so are you. So are you!
Like the video clip says, you are more beautiful than you think. I want you to live humbly with that truth resonating in your life so that God gains the glory for it.
Close in Prayer
David R. Smith
For another great resource using the same YouTube video clip, see our "Real Beauty Sketches"