Healthy Habits

You: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

"Today is a good day to take inventory of what is great about you—to the glory of God." by Major Amy Reardon

In all honesty, if I had had the opportunity to design myself, I’d have done things a little differently. I’d have given myself an amazing metabolism. I would have left out that little lisp that sneaks up on me when I’m tired. I would have made myself smarter. Alas, neither genetics nor divine intervention provided these things to me, and I spent way too much time learning to be satisfied with the way I was made. We all know that appreciating who you are is far healthier than stewing over the characteristics you weren’t granted, but it isn’t always easy to accept the package we came in. If we want to be our best, healthiest selves, we must appreciate how God made us. Perhaps I should go so far as to say that we should learn to love how God made us.

The psalmist praised God for his human condition in Psalm 139 (NIV). Consider this piece of poetry:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 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. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 

We may look at our time in utero slightly differently now, understanding that DNA will determine a great deal about us. But we also know Who invented genetics. Call me unsophisticated, but I still believe that God supervises our creation, each of us. I believe we are who God wanted us to be. God saw us, God knew us, God designed us.  

A trap that many of us fall into is regretting the way we were made. There are so many things to regret, aren’t there? You may wish you were more athletic, or funnier, or more outgoing or you had a smaller nose. Perhaps you were born with a disability that presents challenges. I don’t know what God’s purposes are for those challenges, but I can tell you that you are loved, and that God looks upon you and sees how beautiful you are, just as you are.  

One of the things I love about the verses quoted from Psalm 139 is that the writer is not ashamed to be in awe of his created self. He knows that God only makes wonderful things, of which he is one. He looks at himself in all his human splendor and praises God! I rather doubt he was perfect in every way. If you think of the lack of medical knowledge, tools, technology, etc. in those ancient days, you might imagine how many people had injuries that never healed correctly, or how many teeth they had lost by early adulthood. But the psalmist is not complaining about all that has fallen apart since his birth. He is taking stock of himself and glorifying God for his handiwork. 

You may have noticed, as I have, that the most bitter people in the world are those who are most discontented with themselves. When a person can’t accept who she was made to be, she can become angry at the world and even at the people closest to her. She can grow quite envious about what others have that she doesn’t. As miserable as this makes everyone around her, she is her own greatest victim. She lives in her sour stew.  

Or, there are those who simply feel sorry for their perceived insufficiencies and want others to pity them, too. This can be a real drain on friends and family. A person who feels this way also tends to miss out on the joy of other people because he is so wrapped up in his own misfortune. His eyes tend to be very much on himself, rather than looking out to truly see the people around him.  

In contrast, think of the happiness that comes with accepting oneself! Those who are content with who they are feel free to appreciate the talents and gifts of others. Not restrained by jealousy, they celebrate the victories of their friends. They can give God the respect and glory that is deserved for making them the way they are. A person who is grateful for the way God made her is released! She can enjoy herself—her own talents and gifts. She doesn’t live in fear of losing her looks or her abilities because she knows her value is not found in them in the first place. 

 I often say to my children (and myself), “All you have to do is fill the skin you’re in.” What I mean by that is you don’t have to be anything you weren’t created to be. The pressure is off. Do I admire great musicians? Yes, I do. But I will never be one—I wasn’t created to be one. (I know this because I tried.) But the other message of my little mantra is that you must fill the skin you’re in—that is to say, never be less than what you were born to be. Whatever you are gifted to do, do it fully.  

When we seek to fill the skin we’re in, we live our healthiest, most fulfilling lives. But in addition, the body of Christ is at its best because we are all contributing what God intended us to bring to each other. Each of us was fearfully and wonderfully made. Today is a good day to take inventory of what is great about you—to the glory of God. I suspect that you’ll find, as a bonus, that you more easily see what is great about others, too.

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