Improving our self-image

Feeling as if you don't "fit in"? That you aren't of any value? Christ can help you appreciate your real purpose.

A picture of a beautiful swan hangs on the wall of my office. Whenever I look at it, I'm reminded of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Ugly Duckling. This misfit "duckling" was actually a swan, but he didn't know it. Raised with a family of ducks, he quite naturally assumed he was a duck. Scorned by his peers, shunned by his siblings, at one point even rejected by the duck he thought was his mother, he runs away. The story recounts his adventures, or rather misadventures, in the world outside the barnyard. "He felt forlorn and hopeless," we read. "Will I never belong?" Hans Christian Andersen as told by Marianna Mayer, The Ugly Duckling (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1987) . he wondered. Whatever he may have suffered concerning his "self-image," his need was certainly not to be more like a duck. His need was to learn who he really was.

I don't know whether the desire to belong is normal for ducks or swans, but it is for human beings. Even if we have not suffered such unhappiness as our feathered friend, we may, as he did, simply become so impressed with someone else's admirable traits or so frustrated trying to live up to what others expect of us that we feel inferior.

"... dust that dims"
January 4, 1993

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