This is the first of a two part blog post. Click here to read part 2!
Most of us are familiar with the beginning of the book of Genesis in the Bible. God creates the world in six days from nothing, He rests on the seventh day, and Eve is made from Adam's rib. We get the gist. Yet, the reality for so many of us is that we never go deeper into this part of the Bible. We leave it as it is and move on, when this part of the Bible contains some incredibly important truths about who God is, and who He made us to be.
In Genesis 1:26-27, we read the following:
"26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (RVSCE)
I want to highlight two things here. The first is a technical word matter: when it says "So God created man in his own image," the word man also translates to humans.
The second is (or ought to be) a little more awe-inspiring.
God created us in His own image & likeness.
There are many layers surrounding what this means, each with its own implications about what it means for our lives. For starters, let's look at a broad layer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us this about being made in the Imago Dei:
"All creatures bear a certain resemblance to God, most especially man, created in the image and likeness of God. The manifold perfections of creatures - their truth, their goodness, their beauty all reflect the infinite perfection of God. Consequently we can name God by taking his creatures' perfections as our starting point, "for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator".
- CCC 41
First, it's important to note what this passage isn't saying. In talking about the perfections of God's creatures, it's not saying that every single one of God's creatures is perfect. We know how the story goes: after God created everything, Adam and Eve disobeyed Him and brought sin into the world, which in turn has effected every single one of us.
However, when we go back to the very beginning of the Bible, before Adam and Eve fall, we see how God intended the world to be. He didn't intend for us to have vices to conquer, physical weaknesses to suffer, and flaws to overcome. He intended for us to live in harmony with Him, with each other, and with the world around us. God is good, and He made us good.
God is good, and He made us good.
Let's press a little further into this. Remember that in the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)
There are a couple important things happening here. Jesus is identifying Himself with the Father in a Trinitarian way, establishing Himself as God: "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him." What's also happening here is that Jesus is saying that He is the Truth.
God is Truth.
This means He cannot contradict Himself. Therefore, because He is good, this means He cannot create anything that is not inherently good.
You are inherently good.
Because of the effects of original sin, we are not perfect. We have flaws, failings, and weaknesses. We sin against God, against our neighbors, and even against ourselves. Yet we are each still inherently good. We are broken individuals, in need of healing on every level, but we are still inherently good because we are made in God's Image & Likeness.
As musicians, our self-esteem can take a particular beating over time due to the nature of how personal music is. We put our hearts out on the line every time we give the gift of our music, regardless of whether it's in a performance hall, a church, an audition, or an outdoor venue. Competitions and auditions can particularly become situations in which we leave feeling less-than, depending on who is judging and giving feedback. I recall a competition I performed in during high school in which I received some pretty harsh criticism about my tone. The way in which the criticism was worded stuck with me for years, and even developed into an insecurity for a period of time.
Perhaps you've experienced a similar situation yourself, or perhaps you have a different story: the way a teacher spoke during a lesson wounded you, or you couldn't financially afford a top-of-the-line instrument and you wonder if you might have been able to go farther in your career than where you are now if you just would've been able to afford it. The personal and the professional aspects of music so easily cross paths with each other, and it becomes very difficult to untangle them.
If you have struggled with feelings of not being good enough, I encourage you to let the knowledge that you've been made in God's Image shine a light into this place. He is good, and He created you inherently good. Yes, there are things that you can do to build up your skills and talents and gifts, but it is far, far better to build them upon the foundation of truth, than to build those things on a foundation made of lies. Understanding whose Image you've been made in and what this means for you as a human being with dignity changes everything.