So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
You did not create man for destruction, but for the keeping Your commandments, and to inherit life incorruptible. To You we ascribe glory, together with Your Father, Who is from everlasting, and Your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. (from the 7th Prayer)
One of my favorite songs is called “You Were Born for This” by the artist Mandisa. I had first heard it at our son’s Christian elementary school associated with a play about the Biblical figure, Esther, from the Old Testament. Esther became queen in a most unlikely way. It turns out that she was born for that purpose, even though that’s not how the trajectory of her early life went.
There are lots of people in the world who don’t think they have value. There are even more who know they have some value but haven’t discovered their true calling yet. And there are fortunately many who know their call and have answered it.
There is no one who doesn’t have destructive impulses. These include impulses to destroy others. We act on these impulses every time we sin against someone else, every time we open our mouth to gossip about someone, every time we alter a truth, every time we steal from someone, or take advantage of them or harm them in any way.
Sometimes these destructive impulses are turned inwardly. We seek to destroy ourselves. We might do this through overeating, excessive drinking, using drugs, looking at pornography, etc. Sometimes these self-destructive acts are short-term and sometimes they become habits that inhibit us from living the life we want and the life God intended for us to have. More and more, it seems, people are taking inward destructive impulses to the extreme. There are lots of people who are engaging in self-harm and many who are even seeking to end their own lives. Suicide is reaching epidemic proportions across all ages as people wrestle with anger, insecurity, perceived judgment by others, and overall confusion and lack of self-worth.
The Scripture verse of this reflection speaks of the creation of human beings. God made us in His own image. He didn’t make us in an inferior image. He made us in His image. He put a soul into each of us. He put into us the ability to do the things that He Himself does—God creates things and we can create things. God loves and we can love and be loved. God forgives and we can forgive and be forgiven. God is eternal and through faith, we can be eternal as well. God put all of His qualities into us. This means that each person has value. There is no one who does not have value. It is up to us to find value in ourselves and to help others find value in themselves.
Because we each have value, we each have the capacity to do something positive for the world and to honor God in some way. God made us that way. As we read in the Seventh Prayer, we were not created “for destruction, but for the keeping Your commandments, and to inherit life incorruptible.” This is our purpose; this is why we are here. We are here to keep the commandments of God, and to inherit life incorruptible, in other words, to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not the purpose of the animals, or the plants, or the planets or the mountains. This is the purpose of the human being.
When we are acting destructively, either towards others or towards ourselves, we are not realizing our purpose. When we are lost, we only have to act on our true purpose—to honor God—in order to get on the right track.
We are in a pandemic of destruction—destructive words, thoughts, ideas, and actions that we inflict on others and that we are inflicting on ourselves. This pandemic has hit every corner of our world. The solution to this pandemic does not involve masks or social distancing. To the contrary, it involves removing the masks of untruth and insincerity that we all seem to wear and it involves coming closer to others rather than being isolated from them. The solution to this pandemic doesn’t involve deciding which race or ethnic group has more value but in deciding that all people have value and helping all people to see that they have value. And the vaccine to protect against the spread of this pandemic isn’t a shot or two in the arm. It’s regular doses of prayer, it’s the sacramental life of the Church, it’s simple encouragement from others.
We were not created to live destructively as many of us are doing. We were created to honor God by honoring one another.
I’ll end this reflection by quoting the song I mentioned at the beginning:
Feels like I’ve been holding my breath
Trying to still my restless heart
Everything hands on my next step
Finding my nerve, playing my part
I found shelter underneath His crown
Found favor inside His eyes
Rock this boat and I just my drown
Honesty seemed to come with a price
There’s a time to hold your tongue
Time to keep your head down
There’s a time but it’s not now
Sometimes you gotta go uninvited
Sometimes you gotta speak
When you don’t have the floor
Sometimes you gotta move
When everyone else says you should stay
No way, no, not today
You gotta ask if you want an answer
Sometimes you gotta stand apart from the crow
Long before your heart could run the risk
You were born for this.
Esther came from improbable beginnings to become a powerful queen. This is one of the innumerable examples in human history where God’s call superseded the path one would have projected for someone. That’s because, as we read in Matthew 19:26, “With God all things are possible.” Sometimes our call is obvious, and sometimes it is not. Sometimes we realize it earlier in life and sometimes it takes longer to discover. God made us like Him. He’s called each of us to something unique and special. There is a reason and purpose why each of us is here. It is up to us to discover ours and to help others discover theirs as well.
O Christ, Who ineffably sanctified both our souls and bodies form on High, by the Divine impress of Your seal, heal us all, by Your hand. (5th Ode)
God made you special because He made you like Him. You have value. You were not created for destruction. Build up yourself. Build up others. You were born for THIS!