I wouldn't call it a "God thing" as our church kids say sometimes, but rather a coincidence. I picked up a book on the life of Karen Carpenter when I took my grandson to the library a week ago and began to read it last Saturday. I saw that her untimely death was on February 4, 1983--34 years to the day I opened the book. Hers was the voice of a generation. At times it was described as a voice with a smile, and at other times a voice dripping with sorrow. Her short and tragic life was filled with pathos, and her music remains a favorite of my generation.
Carpenter became the poster child for eating disorders. We didn't know as much about anorexia and bulimia in those days, but we've made some progress in this area, though it's estimated some five million Americans yet suffer from this disorder.
Filmmakers produced a documentary called "Thin" in 2006. The film follows several months in the lives of young women with eating disorders after they checked in to a Florida clinic.
In one scene the counselor affixed butcher paper to the wall and asked a patient to draw her image. Then she asked the patient to back up to the wall where the counselor traced her image inside the previous image. The two images were dramatic. The real image fit neatly inside the projected image. In other words, the anorexic patient saw herself as overweight and unattractive, though she clearly was not.
We talk about self-image a lot in the church, and we often find ourselves betwixt two polarities.
On the one hand the Bible is quite clear that we're all sinners and have fallen short of God's plan (Romans 3:23). We follow the example of our first parents in Eden and willfully step aside from the will of God. St. Augustine once remarked that "every man is the Adam of his own soul." He meant that we have Adam in us and have a propensity to make bad choices as he did.
Our Presbyterian friends include a time of confession in every worship service. I think we ought to follow their example and be given opportunity to reflect on our sinfulness and on God's mercy every time we worship.
On the other hand, the Bible tells us that we're "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). Unlike the animals we're made in God's image and we're people of value for whom Christ died. So we are worth a great deal to our Creator.
Finding the proper self-image as Christians is often a challenge. Somewhere between these two polarities lies a golden mean that makes for a balanced spiritual life.