9. Ultimate Selfie-Purpose 2: Who We’re With

Remember earlier in this series I proposed four purposes we find for posting selfies on social media—to show the world: 1) how we look, 2) who we’re with, 3) where we’ve been, or 4) what we’ve accomplished. This post begins the second item on that list: Who we’re with.

Not long ago, at a conference, a woman who was standing near me had her camera already focused on the front door and ready to shoot. I didn’t know what she was waiting for, but I stood there long enough to figure it out. She was waiting, she finally said to someone else, for the singer/songwriter who was to be the mainliner at this conference. I, too, wanted to see this artist because of what he has meant to the Christian music industry, so taking a photo of him wasn’t out of the question for me, especially as it would archive the events at this conference. This woman, however, not only wanted to see the artist, hear him sing and testify, she wanted to take a selfie of her with the artist. I heard her say, “My kids will finally think I’m cool if I am in the same picture with him.” It seems that she thought that she was more valuable if she could be photographed with someone significant. Lest you think that I’m putting this woman down, I’m just using her as an example of what everybody has done at one time or another. Everybody including me.

Seeing someone of importance can be a happy moment and will give us a great story to tell our friends. It’s almost as though the closer we stand to this person, the more we feel important ourselves. It’s as if we don’t see ourselves as special, so we borrow the sparkle of an idol and transfer it to our own sense of worth. I often call it standing in someone else’s aura.

There are even websites now that teach how to make a fake picture with a famous person to impress your friends and family. No kidding.

There’s a difference between hero worship and borrowing significance from someone else. The latter is about boosting our sense of worth by touching someone else of worth.

Hero worship is about admiration of a person because of his or her abilities or attributes that we’d like to emulate. (The worship part is not a healthy mindset.) But there’s power in this concept. Nike used a slogan to market their Air Jordan shoes. “I want to be like Mike.” It worked. Millions paid big bucks for those shoes so that they could perhaps be as great as Michael Jordan.  And speaking of shoes, here’s a story that is endearing and somewhat troubling at the same time.

More than 20 years ago, a woman named Joni Jacques did the same thing many others did back in the mid-1990s: She attended a charity sale that offered up Oprah Winfrey’s clothing, shoes and accessories.  Since Joni was struggling financially at the time, she searched for one of the least expensive items she could find. That item was a pair of Oprah’s shoes — but they ended up being so much more than celebrity footwear.

A while after Joni purchased the shoes (a size 10, even though Joni wore a size 7), she wrote to Oprah and told the talk show host what the shoes had meant to her since they came into her possession. Joni was able to relay that message personally when she attended an Oprah Show taping as an audience member in 1997.

“I really loved them and I kept them in my bedroom,” she told Oprah back then. “When I got really, really depressed and I couldn’t find anybody to talk to, I took the shoes out and I…”

Her voice trails and Joni becomes overwhelmed with emotion. Oprah finishes the thought for her. “…Stood in my shoes,” Oprah says. “To make herself feel better, she would stand in my shoes, and now she says she doesn’t have to stand in the shoes as much because she’s standing on her own.”[i] The audience applauded wildly.

There’s an even better story about association with greatness in the Bible found in Matthew 9: 20-22 .

“… a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched [Jesus’] robe. She was thinking to herself, ‘If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.’ Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: ‘Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.’”

What is the difference in the story of the woman in Oprah’s shoes and the story of the woman who touched Jesus’ robe? Both of these women had great needs—physical and financial needs. There was something missing in each woman’s life. Both of them craved some touch of value that they might have to borrow from someone else.

The difference in these two women is that the shoes of a human being, even one as wonderful as Oprah, are not powerful enough to truly change a life. The Jesus who gave the woman her health back saw her as greatly valuable in spite of her desperate condition.  He even called her “daughter.” Oprah was impressed with the woman’s story, but the power of the shoes had no true healing power. Only the Great Physician can acknowledge a child of God and transform him or her into a whole person. 

Our worth is not dependent on connections with someone we believe is more significant. The world may not regard our value, but God definitely does. Remember that God chose as His servants ordinary people. When we see this statement, we think, first, about the greats like Abraham, Moses, Noah, and David who were unremarkable until God chose them to do great things, so great that we now revere them and use their names as examples of godly greatness.

However, there are two women in the New Testament whose names we know, but may not regard as significant. They are Lois and Eunice. Mother and daughter. They are mentioned in scripture only once. Paul writes to his son in the faith, Timothy, a letter of encouragement. He writes,

“I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion. That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you!” (2 Timothy 1: 4-6)

These two women were just good moms. They raised a godly child—one whose name, Timothy, we cannot deny is significant. And the legacy that this family left behind is immeasurable. There’s no telling how many came to faith through these women and this bloodline. (There have been many great mothers and fathers who have raised godly children. Most of them will not be recognized necessarily in their lifetimes, but this does not diminish their effect and value at all.)

If our goal is to please God, rather than other people, then we should ask ourselves why we want to stand in someone else’s aura—to deny our own importance that is given to us when we were created. Notoriety in this world is fleeting and deceptive.

STOP: Do you ever want to be close to a significant person just because you’ll feel more valuable? Will a selfie with that person boost your sense of worth?

LIE: I’ll never be worth anything. I must prove I’m significant by my association with someone my world thinks is special.

TRUTH:  “The very credentials… people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant…” (Philippians 3:7-8)

[i] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-oprahs-shoes-changed-one-womans-life_n_5601bacae4b00310edf8f66d

2 thoughts on “9. Ultimate Selfie-Purpose 2: Who We’re With

  1. Bruce Cokeroft

    Thanks for this, Nan. It was especially meaningful to me. Often, we “creative types” experience feelings of inadequacy and struggle with self-image issues. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder of whose we truly are.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *