A Selfie Experiment


Are you obsessed with self or obsessed with God? Are you seeking God’s approval or man’s?

I love myself. I hate myself.

I avoid having my picture taken. When looking through photos, I always strain to catch a glimpse of myself.

I don’t always like what I see in the mirror, but steal glances of myself in every mirror and window I walk by.

Surely I’m not the only girl in this tug-of-war with self. When it comes to how we see ourselves, balance seems like a mirage. Either we get too self-absorbed, prideful, or conceited. (A bit of Erin Davis trivia: I was voted the most conceited member of my eighth grade class. True story.) Or we feel insecure, anxious, or downright depressed about who we are and how we look. (Yep, been there, too!)

I read recently that the word “selfie” was named the 2013 International Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionary. For good reason. Use of the word selfie increased by 17,000 percent in one year. One study found that 30 percent of the pictures we’re taking and posting are selfies. I wanted to better understand what’s happening here and squeeze it through the filter of God’s Word, so I came up with an idea for an experiment. The rules were simple . . .

I would take a picture of myself every day for thirty days.

But there was a catch. Since I have a hunch that part of our selfie obsession is polishing our image up to high shine, I would not edit my selfies. I wouldn’t use a filter. I wouldn’t do that thing where you hold your camera high and suck in your chin to look skinnier. I wouldn’t put on an extra coat of mascara or lipstick before taking the shot. Each pic would be me. Just me. The way I really am. To be honest, that resulted in some pretty unflattering pictures. (I really do own a hairbrush. I swear!) But it also resulted in some deep lessons from God’s Word.

I tend to think that the world revolves around me.

I need constant reminders that I am not the axis upon which all things rotate. That role belongs to God.

This point was powerfully hit home for me several years ago as I studied Revelation 4:2–11. (It’s a long passage, but don’t race through it! It’s worth the time investment.)

At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal . . .

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Only God is worthy to receive glory and honor and power. He created all things, after all. By His will all things exist.

As I peek into the throne room in this passage, these questions bubble up in my heart:

  • Erin, where are you discussed in this passage?
  • Where is your throne?
  • Where is your crown?
  • Who is worshiping you?

I’m not even in the throne room! I’m not the center of attention. Yes, I am an adopted daughter of the king, but God is the One who is really on the throne.

God calls me to replace my obsession with self with an obsession with Him.

God has a way of turning things upside down. The secret to feeling better about myself is to get over myself. It’s a quality the Bible defines as humility.

Galatians 2:20 reminds us that when we give our lives to Jesus, we are crucified with Christ. We no longer live, but Christ lives in us. In Matthew 16:24–25 Jesus asks us to deny ourselves.

John 3:30 gets to the point:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

I found that taking constant pictures of myself inevitably led to an increase of thinking about myself. It made me increase and Christ decrease in my heart.

It’s easy to obsess over what other people think about me.

Let’s get real—we all take selfies in the hopes that someone will like them, comment on them, tag them, or share them. If we dig, most of us will discover that the root of all that snap chatting is approval addiction.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

Proverbs 29:25 warns that fear of man lays a snare. It’s a trap! When we live for the approval of others we will find ourselves ensnared.

Galatians 1:10 offers two critical questions and a warning.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

God doesn’t call me to self-hatred or self-deprecation. As I took selfies, I gained an appreciation for how God made me (even on bad hair days). I appreciate that there isn’t another girl in the world who looks just like me.

God gave me these blue eyes. He chose this little button nose for me. He handpicked my hair color, the shape of my lips, the color of my skin . . .

I am grateful for the care God took in creating me. It is possible to be at peace with the way God made us!

How about you? Do you recognize your beauty as God-given or scrutinize it under the microscope of how you think you should look. Are you obsessed with self or obsessed with God? Are you seeking God’s approval or man’s?

Written by Erin Davis

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