When I teach young women about their bodies I begin with Creation. When mothers and mentors reach out to ask for help with teenage girls who struggle with insecurity or dislike their bodies I encourage them to do the same. Not just creation of male and female but the very beginning…the something from nothing, the light and the darkness, night and day, plants and fish. In this story of beginnings we find the foundation of everything we can know about ourselves. And in this story of beginnings we find that we are a part of something beyond ourselves. Woven in the story is intention, development, design, order, beauty, love and relationship. It is the place where we first understand our physical selves and our entire selves. Beauty and meaning are found in this perfect garden amidst the entirety of Creation. If we can sit with our girls in this garden even for a few moments perhaps they can find themselves in the truth and love that made them. In the truth and love that they reflect. Before their own story gets lost in the brokenness that continually drives them out of the garden.
We moved to Memphis when our children were little and soon after joined the zoo. Children delight in animals and for mine this held true. I remember two of my children crawling out of their stroller to stand on one leg next to Flamingos, laughing and falling. They would open their mouths as wide as possible when we approached the hippos. They were captivated by all of the animal life and innately saw the connection they had to these creatures. In the bird sanctuary they would hold out their peanut butter wand covered in seed as many beautiful birds flocked over to receive what they could offer. The zoo was a place that simultaneously thrilled and pacified them.
The beauty and diversity of the physical world is not lost on a child. This is the place where we can begin to connect for them their individual significance as part of a larger communal reality that is both beautiful and good. Further, we teach them the weighty significance that humanity is set apart from the rest of creation as bearers of the Creator himself. The value and dignity bestowed upon each child with this realization is crucial as they develop their identity. This is also the place from where we teach our children the value and dignity of every type of child and every type of creature.
Author’s Justin and Lindsey Holcomb clearly make this connection in their children’s book, God Made Me in His Image. It is a story about a group of students, each one struggling with parts of their bodies, and how a trip to the zoo demonstrates the beauty and truth of how they have been made. By connecting children to something beyond themselves the children in the story begin to recognize the value and worth of their own bodies as well as the value and worth of their fellow classmates.
This message cannot begin too early. Many teenagers lack a foundational understanding about the beauty and purpose of their bodies. They do not know to look to the Creator to understand the truth about who they are and instead look to cultural trends, social media, and peers to find their value and worth. Those places cannot provide them with the truth about who they are and the purpose for which they are made. God Made Me in His Image is a tool you can use to foster these important conversations with your children. Over time, these conversations will form in children a true picture of their individual uniqueness that represents far more than their individual selves. As they grow in the knowledge and truth about how they have been made they will appreciate their bodies. They will inevitably still struggle with how the world seeks to defines them (as we all do) but as they contemplate the truth found in the garden they will be strengthened by the knowledge of what is good, true, and beautiful about themselves and others.
Note: Author Justin Holcomb recently reached out when he and his wife published their book, God Made Me in His Image. After reading this children’s book I eagerly agreed to write a review because I believe so strongly in their message. You can read more about Justin and his wife, Lindsey here: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/contributors/justin-and-lindsey-holcomb/
As you consider Christmas this year, consider gifting God Made Me in His Image to the children in your life.