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TeenConnect: UpFront

The perfect selfie

From the Christian Science Sentinel - August 7, 2017

From the teen column: UpFront - August 7, 2017


TeenConnect: Up Front

My friend’s selfie had surpassed 1,000 “likes” on Instagram and she was elated. It had taken her over 100 attempts to get the “perfect” selfie that she ended up posting, she told me. Well, 100 attempts, plus filtering and editing the photo so that it was truly perfect according to Instagram standards.

My friend’s technique for the perfect selfie included the following: A flattering angle. Ideal lighting. Presenting her face so she could maximize her best features and downplay her worst ones. The list goes on, but here’s my takeaway: Taking the perfect selfie is mainly about trying to hide all of your perceived flaws through a combination of good camera work, good posing, and heavy editing.

The perfection we’re talking about doesn’t involve having a certain personality or body type.

In a way, it’s a metaphor for life. If we can just conceal everything about us that’s bad, maybe people will like us—maybe we’ll have friends, make the right connections, and find a way to succeed. Maybe we can “filter” our lives so that our flaws stay hidden and people see only the picture-perfect view that we’ve worked so hard to create.

While it’s completely natural to want to be good and to be perceived as good, what I’ve learned from studying Christian Science is that the “perfect selfie” approach to our lives gets it all wrong. In Christian Science, the starting point is our flawless, eternal state as God’s children. Pause on that for a second. Flawlessness isn’t where we end up after a ton of editing and filtering. Flawlessness is where we begin.

This doesn’t mean that we’re perfect according to the world’s standards. Actually, from this worldly, or mortal, standpoint, no one ever measures up, because the standard of perfection is always changing, and we can always find something about ourselves or others to nitpick and criticize. 

So the perfection we’re talking about doesn’t involve having a certain personality or body type, and it doesn’t mean we won’t ever make mistakes. According to Christian Science, this genuine perfection isn’t even up to us. It’s God-given, and it’s based on the fact that we’re spiritual—immortal, not mortal. Our real identity is not in a physical body with a certain complexion, build, or DNA makeup. Our one true, perfect identity is the image of God—the image of Love, including its radiance and beauty; the image of the Soul that is God, expressing complete satisfaction and pure goodness; and the image of divine Mind, intelligent, capable, and complete. In fact, those are just a handful of the infinite qualities of God that make up our lovely, flawless individuality. 

I’m learning that I have so much more to give, and so much more love, poise, and patience with which to give it, when I reflect on this perfect, spiritual self, or “selfie,” first thing each morning. Here’s one way you can do that, although God will show you the way that’s just right for you.

The real, true you is more flawless and beautiful than you could imagine.

Before I get out of bed in the morning, I like to start with a prayer by knowing that I’m immortal. I’m not defined by what happened yesterday or last week, and I’m not controlled by past mistakes, nor am I destined to repeat them. When I’m struggling with things I don’t like about myself, it’s helpful to remember that I’m actually not imperfect trying to become perfect. Right now, this moment and always, I am totally good and purely spiritual. And anything about me that seems wrong or bad is just a mistaken view of myself. As I see more of my flawless, spiritual nature, the mistaken material view of myself becomes less compelling, and unlovely qualities gradually disappear. 

I also like to ask God how He sees me. To help me see myself as He does. Sometimes I reflect on specific spiritual qualities that God gives me (and everyone), and that I want to take into my day. Sometimes I simply feel God’s love and know that I’m able to see myself and others correctly because I’m secure in that love.

I often check back in with this perfect image throughout the day, especially in those moments when I don’t feel great about myself. Remembering what I am as God’s likeness reorients me and helps me handle challenges with more grace. Another of my friends, with whom I shared this approach several months ago, agrees. She said that since she’s been praying for herself, even for just a few minutes, at the beginning of each day—knowing the qualities she expresses as God’s daughter—she’s felt happier, securer, and more peaceful.

The perfect self we’re talking about may not get 1,000 likes on Instagram. But it captures the real, true you—more flawless and beautiful than you could imagine, totally lovable, and perfectly equipped to bring out the best in you and in others.

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