The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 1, 2012

Turning into a designer-original

— Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published June 21, 2007. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

One of the best musicals I’ve ever seen was done by a Beckley youth group known as Red Tape. Built around conversations inside the “Image Outlet Mall,” the music and drama portray the illusions that come with an inflated self-image and the reality that comes from living as one created in the image of God.

The play centers on two store mannequins who talk incessantly about how great it is to be nonhuman. They revel in the fact they will always be a perfect size and will always be able to wear designer-originals. They will always have perfect hair, perfect complexions and perfect makeup. They will never age, never need liposuction or facelifts. They will be eternally young, beautiful and won’t ever have to worry like the humans do about becoming more beautiful on the inside.

The emptiness of their image-dominated illusions comes to an abrupt end when the two vain wax dummies are transported away to a factory to be melted down and remade into something else.

We live in such an image-conscious age. Obsession with the outside has reached epidemic proportions. Unfortunately, concerns about developing a God-conscious image seem to be waning.

None of us is exempt. After I saw the musical a few years ago, I began to think and pray about my own pre-occupation with what others thought of me. God began to focus my attention on the image within.

One day, as I read the New Testament passage where Jesus told the Pharisees they were like a bunch of white marble tombs, I started to relate to what He was telling them. The Lord condemned these pious, image-conscious religious leaders for looking all polished and beautiful on the outside — like a mausoleum, He said. Inside, however, they were full of rottenness, like dead people’s bodies and decaying bones.

I saw myself in that description. I saw a lot of difference between my inner thoughts, motives and feelings and the outward image I wanted others to see.

I asked God to help me change. I had always heard about spiritual transformation. Now, I wanted to experience it. Little did I know what I was asking.

That transformation process has led through a real crucible of experiences that have taken a wrecking ball to that nice polished image. Time after time, God has broken down those marble walls and exposed a virtual junk room inside.

I wish I could say all the renovations have been completed. However, I’ve realized the transformation Jesus talked about takes a lifetime. Striving to be recreated in His image is sometimes uncomfortable and often painful.

However, I rejoice in the fact this transformation is based not on vain illusions but on the reality of what I’m becoming — a designer-original.