“Do you see the baby? Is she your friend?” I asked Sweet Girl. She cooed and gurgled in response as she gazed at her reflection in the mirror. “Be good to the baby, Sweet Girl,” I whispered in her ear, “because that’s my baby.”

Me and mirrors haven’t always mixed well. Growing up, there were several times when I would look in the mirror and wouldn’t like what I saw. I thought I was fat. I thought I was ugly. I thought I was stupid. These were all my own insecurities birthed out of despairing comparisons—add the opinions of the world (i.e. hormonal, developing middle school classmates) and my time with the mirror was a disaster. Often in my pain and confusion and frustration, I would sit in front of the tall mirrored closet doors in my room and curse myself. “You’re really dumb. No one likes you. You can’t do anything right. You’re not the best at anything.”

It wouldn’t be until my mid to late twenties that things would begin to shift for me. I began to focus less on what others thought of me because I realized that I would never make everyone happy. (You get a LOT of practice relearning this lesson over and over again as a teacher and a pastor.) The opinions of others are like shifting winds that can change directions at a moment’s notice; they are an unreliable foundation that cannot be built upon. As that truth was settling in my mind, I realized I needed to also deal with my heart. I sought prayer and opportunities to do some hard, inner healing work in which I would negate and pray against those self-imposed curses.

It’s not enough to change the bad habit of negative self-talk; I had to replace it with the truth. Romans 12:2 encourages us to be different from the world by renewing our minds. The world offers negativity and hopelessness, but if we renew our minds by focusing on what God says, we can be and live differently. I began to read and study passages that told me who I was in Christ. I began to read over and over again that God’s love for me is extravagant (1 John 3). I am God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). I am chosen and God’s treasured possession (1 Peter 2:9). I am accepted (Romans 15:7). In the darkness, these truths shine and show a way out.

I wonder sometimes if God looks at us and hears our inner dialogue about ourselves and whispers over us, “Be good to the baby. You’re speaking that over my baby.” God’s love for us is deeper and grander than we can comprehend and beyond imagination. God is self-described as a fierce mama bear (Hosea 13:8) and a father who gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11); we can trust our God who is so consistent in loving well. We can embrace our identity as children of God and build our thought life on this unshakeable truth.

So be good to God’s baby. Be good to you.

Movement Step: Take some time and reflect on your thought life about yourself. Does it agree with Scripture? Pray and journal about what God says about you. Grab a friend or two and share your process and what you’re learning. They can be a support to you, and they may need your support as well.