A few years ago, my counselor pointed out to me that I am an image manager. In my relationship to Marie, my family, those I work with, I must guard against managing my image. At it's deepest level, my image management speaks to a deep down fear that I am not unconditionally lovable or valuable to God or anyone. That statement is very pronounced, and I do not feel like that constantly, but that thought has always been with me as long as I can remember. Of course I haven't been able to articulate it that way in my teens and early 20's, but that's the recording playing in my head.
Image management drove the way I ran from conflict, tried to please people, and even the activities I involved myself it. I loved acting because I could create a completely different person and it helped to relive some of the pressure I felt in my own emotional life. The problem was not theatre classes. The problem is that I was creating a character on and off the stage that people were loving. I could talk to many people and connect with them. This kind of people pleasing addiction was/is exhausting. It's not really me.
I'd like to say I'm free from it, but every couple of days (hours) it pops back up again. However it doesn't rock my life like it used to. I can recognize it. Sometimes, I even prayerfully "deconstruct" my "glittering image" in front of people. I'm consistently surprised that people love me, not a manufactured image of me or some carefully manacured surfacy representation of me...people love me. I know I'm loved because God says I have value. I know I'm loved because people close to me embrace my weakness. I know I'm loved because I'm learning that it's no longer necessary to tediously keep up my image in front of others.
I write this in my journal every day after hearing that my Pastor does the same thing:
I am loved by God
I am a child of God
I cannot earn God's love
My value is not effected by my performance.
What God says about me is more important than what people say about me.
I perform for an audience of one.