My daughter has this huge floor mirror that she received for Christmas a few years ago. I love that mirror because for some reason, whenever I check myself out in that mirror, I look really thin. Not going to lie, I like that.
To this day, I don’t know if that mirror is reflecting reality or if it’s distorting my image and honestly, it really doesn’t matter. All I know is I like how I see myself through that mirror.
There are many “mirrors” out there that determine how we see ourselves in this world.
Sometimes we seek the mirrors of compliments and praise from those around us, who feed our pride and make us feel better about ourselves. Other times, we tend to dwell on the negative reflection of our lives and can only see the bad in us, the shortcomings and our lack of value. Some can only see one or the other. I tend to go back and forth with this reflection. There are times I can have a highly over-inflated sense of who I am … and other times, I am sure I am the worst person that ever lived.
There’s is a wide, wide spectrum of how we can see ourselves in any given day and so many mirrors to look at when trying to measure ourselves.
Do we look at our lives through the mirror of American culture?
In that case, we may look at celebrities and their lives, leading us to either envy their wealth and popularity or feel distaste for their lifestyle. We may compare ourselves to celebrities and look in distain at our measly bank account and mundane lives. Or maybe we feel far superior because we don’t fall for the lure of materialism and success in that realm.
Do we look at our lives through the mirror of wealth and possessions?
I have lived through having and not having in my lifetime. I once lived with more than anyone really needs, and I am far more content today with a whole lot less.
On the other hand, I do not make a lot of money, work two jobs and am trying desperately to build up my credit score after it took a hit while I was unemployed. When I look at myself through the mirror of that doggone credit score, which unfortunately means everything today, I feel shame and anger and an unreasonable amount of stress. Honestly, it can make me feel terrible about myself.
And then I look to those who have nothing — my friends in countries like the Philippines and Cambodia, who truly do have nothing. That is when I can really get down on myself for even giving my credit score a second thought.
Do we look at our lives through the mirror of religion?
Even though I try desperately not to, because I know it is wrong, there are times I find myself thinking, “well at least I’m not guilty of doing ‘that,’” all the while secretly judging a person who actually is doing “that.” I know I am not the only one guilty of this.
Looking at ourselves through the mirror of religion only leads us to ranking sin in the world, which absolutely cannot be ranked. Sin is sin, and we all have sin in our lives.
I remember another interesting story about mirrors that I began using to teach students and my own children about resolving conflicts. We often tend to blame others during episodes of conflict and for some very difficult circumstances in our lives. I know that I was, and still can be, very guilty of this.
Here’s what I would tell my students: Imagine a mirror placed between yourself and someone with whom you are arguing or have long-standing issues. Think about the times you looked around that mirror into the eyes of the other person to blame them for the situation, instead of looking directly into the mirror and into your own eyes to see the reflection of the truth about yourself in the situation.
While going through a 12-step process, I was asked to list all the people I was angry with for the circumstances of my life. That was easy … I had a long list. I was then asked to write down how each of those people on the list had hurt me and their role in the conflict. At the time, that was incredibly easy to do … I wrote and wrote about how others had hurt me.
Finally, I was asked to write down my part in each of those issues. At first, all I could write was “I let them hurt me” or “I let it happen to me.” I could not see my own faults because of how I was seeing them. But eventually, I was able to pull back and stop looking around the mirror and instead, I faced the mirror and really took a good hard look at myself through that mirror of reality and truth.
I didn’t like what I saw and it hurt. Sometimes, it turned out the other person really did sin against me, and I had legitimate reasons to be angry and hurt, but the process also allowed me the ability to see the hurt behind their behavior. The process eventually allowed healing and forgiveness to enter my heart.
The list could go on and on of the mirrors we use to determine our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual value. However, each and every mirror we use to determine our value distorts the truth of who we truly are. All but one.
When I began to look at myself through a different mirror — the mirror of Jesus — and see my reflection in the mirror of his eyes of grace, forgiveness and love, I saw someone very different from the one reflected in the myriad of mirrors in this life.
I read a book awhile back about man (and woman) being created in God’s image. I can’t remember who wrote it, but I do remember a section that referenced Calvin and his remarks about how we are like a mirror intended to reflect the image of God. Instead, and because of the sin in our lives, the mirror is broken, reflecting a distorted image of God. Calvin noted it is only through Jesus we are able to reflect a more genuine reflection because He Himself is the image of God.
When I stop and take a moment to see myself in the mirror of God’s love, grace and mercy, I can only see the beloved daughter and woman he created me to be. Credit scores, looks, wealth, popularity, good deeds and bad deeds mean nothing. For that moment, I remember I am just perfect in the mirror of his salvation. Same goes for the haves and the have nots, the celebrities, the righteous and the not so righteous, even those who do “that” … we are all the same in that mirror.
And it changes everything.