Stedman Graham advised to let no man’s opinion of you become your reality. If you ‘Google’ the quote, the statement appears to originate from Les Brown. However, I first read it in one of Graham’s books around the mid-nineties. Graham’s advice haunts reverberated while watching the film Cyrano (2021). While audiences did not show up in theatres, the beautiful idea of height—in the film’s interpretation—effectively shows how Cyrano needlessly allowed his self-worth to be defined by the cruelty of others. And there, at that moment, I, like many others, saw myself. 

Throughout my mortal life, I allowed myself to be defined by cruelty. From my parents, who at times told me I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to ask a reasonably attractive girl to my high school prom, to being teased by kids as different, to be the junior high school punching bag for unconfident bullies to beat. Looking back, I was ripe for satirizing. I was a quirky young kid who wore thick glasses that did not correct a tendency for a lazy left eye. I was heavier and became self-isolated, preferring instead to watch shows such as EmergencyManix, or SWAT because they were cool. Everyone liked them. As such, if I became ‘that,’ I would also become liked. I became that, but never attained vast adoration like Hollywood elites. 

In my mid-forties, I overcame extreme discomfort when facing a friend or group who spoke negatively about someone else. Yet still, I sometimes back away from relationships rather than participate or listen. Sure, I know the result is exclusion, an ‘I’ versus ‘them’ attitude, but I try not to react to today’s visceral, over-the-top hatred of others. Should I think about the early years of my childhood and adulthood, shame washes over me like an incriminating fire. At 62, I understand how shame and self-worthlessness lead to lashing out, to take back some control of my feelings, even at the expense of others. That last sentence—the expense of others—defined my thirties through my fifties. It’s not what God wanted, but that’s what I chose. And, in doing so, I became like Cyrano. I succumbed to the good opinion of others.

One Cyrano musical segment that moved me to tears is “Wherever I fall”. We hear soldiers speak of war, write final letters to their beloved, and marched into battle. One main character fell as he crested a hill. Cyrano is wounded in the same fight and dies three years later from war injuries. Granted that this was only fictional, I understand how many relate to the story and to the age-old question, “Where the hell is God?”

Like all of us disadvantaged in life or by life, Cyrano’s life is a story of disadvantage; his most profound insecurity is inescapably hidden by the performance portrayed in daily life. Yet, I think God wishes to state all of us can do better. If the story were historical, God, in essence, makes Cyrano’s physical handicap a strength. Constantly underestimated due to size, Cyrano easily overpowers others. In that vein, God allows Cyrano (and us) to use the arrogant’s overconfidence against them (and to outwit them), whether by sword or spoken word. 

God illuminates that hiding in the shadow of desire does not allow us to be fully embraced by another. However, approaching another (or God), we must reckon with our insufficiency. Meaning? We must willingly surrender control of how others perceive us, let our insecurities be fully seen and understood—and be loved. After 870+ posts, even today, I still have an issue with that. At death, I have to face God. And at that moment, there’s no one but He and I. I have to look at God and state, “I am unworthy of your kingdom Lord. Please cast me away.” 

However, the lesson of Cyrano (and God) is that genuine love grows from the truthful vision of another as they are. This view includes seeing and accepting flaws, vices, and failures. In the film, every character knows their imperfections. Yet, each willingly disguises them. And by hiding them, they feel they can compensate for their shortcomings through a veneer. In doing that, God might state, ‘There’s that golden calf.’ 

But God’s love is the destroyer of image. He wants us to understand that, in love, there can be no persistent disguise. The truth of oneself must be uncloaked, however broken or embarrassing. And like Cyrano, who had known pain and rejection throughout life, I hid behind words and false veneers. In doing so, I prioritized another distorted image: that I’m unlovable. By never daring to ask for that prom date so many years ago, I maintained control over this prideful image of myself as unlovable and untouchable. I made that young high school woman forever superior, forever unattainable.

However, in this world, my image of self is misleading. And just like the characters in Cyrano, it is now too late for me to realize the gravity of my mistakes. My physical wounds are not healing. I am dying, and the colorfully seductive images from my life are fading. Now, only this blog’s words will retain outdated memories. Still, I embrace death and God.

Intuitively, God will refuse to reject me. After physical death, I will confess my love for God, not for His words or actions, but of His love. And just like Cyrano’s very last line: “And I loved … my pride.” In a final heartbreaking revelation, I will recognize my role that prevented me from receiving a full life of love. I will understand how lethal holding that truth within me distorted God’s vision and passion for me. 

I genuinely believe my false image will die when God embraces me in the love of which I always felt unworthy. In contrast to today’s ever-embracing social presence and bravado of insensitivity, God hopes unconditional love and grace will set us free from the narrow vision of human judgment, that we may be seen and known not by our images or reflections, but as we indeed are.

Thus, as God might say, let no man’s opinion of you become your reality.