By CHRIS BATES
I was about to become a teenager the first time I visited the Teton mountains. My family took a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, just after Christmas that year. We got to experience the elk refuge, explore for other wildlife, take backcountry hikes, ski, and take in the indescribable rawness and beauty of the area.
Most vivid in my memory was a venture out to hike around part of Jenny Lake. We stood in awe and took in the unencumbered view of the Grand Tetons and their flawless reflection on the giant mirrored surface of the water.
Of the times that I have stood before the Tetons and soaked them in, the other most memorable was on my honeymoon with my wife, Stacy. We were there after the first few snowfalls of the year, and there was a new feel to the winter. We experienced dog sledding, wildlife photography, moonlit dinners overlooking the scenery, and many different views of the Grand Tetons.
We also hiked in the snow to the Chapel of the Transfiguration, which I had also visited as a young guy, with its breathtaking view of those mountains over the small altar. That framed perspective of one of the most revered mountain ranges on the continent leaves little room for doubt about the power and imagination that formed it all. It is an unforgettable image.
Most people agree that God created and continues to offer amazing beauty all around us. Some of that beauty is as staggeringly large and breathtaking as the Teton Range. Regardless of where you or I may have traveled or whether we simply pay attention to the beauty in the community or countryside around us, there is true splendor.
Sunrises and sunsets can be constant reminders, no matter where we experience them. God created and continues to provide large and small beauty all around us if we look for it intentionally. He also created amazing beauty within each of us, most simply and profoundly because we reflect Him.
We know the story of Genesis and how God created mankind in His own image. The Word additionally gives us countless examples of how we are recreated and reshaped as a reflection of Him. In Ephesians 4:24, Paul encourages us to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Given the insight into how each of us reflects God, is that not encouraging as we view both others and ourselves? Can we use that inward image filter better as we face self-doubt, anxiousness or fear?
Deciding your view is one of the amazing free gifts that we are given. God created such beauty in mountains, sunrises, and small reflections in nature. He also used the perfect model to mold each of us, both outside and inside. By realizing that, we can minimize our own self-defeating practices and then put better rhythms in place for our own lives. Brené Brown accurately said, “True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts.”
Given that, let us challenge ourselves to reflect well and know that truth about who we really are in our hearts. By viewing the beauty around us, let’s also acknowledge the scenery within us. Each of us can agree that we see it in others. Take that outward view and admit that others see it in you as well. Do not let others’ outsides determine your insides.
Most of all, be assured that God sees your inner beauty with the same perspective from which He sees His most majestic mountain ranges. Soak in His image of you.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.