(Originally posted April 2016)
“Mommy, you’re fat!”
Although this was not a totally shocking comment from my not-afraid-to-be-brutally-honest four-and-a-half-year-old, I turned around and quickly retorted:
“Excuse me! We do NOT say things like that in our family!”
As I was saying this, I realized both of my girls were pointing and laughing hysterically – not at me, but at my reflection in the convenience store restroom hand dryer. The curves in the shiny metal surface of the dryer showed a distorted, squished and, therefore, widened version of myself that was, of course, totally worthy of laughter!
Mirrors. What would we do without them? Having the ability to see a clear reflection of our appearance is something we take for granted in our modern world. We don’t have to depend on still water or polished metal to know what we look like – we can get an accurate view whenever we want!
A warped mirror, however, like the distorted image in the hand dryer or those playground fun mirrors, does not give an accurate reflection. You would never put a mirror like that in your house – well, maybe for fun, but not because you were depending on it to know what you look like!
This week I pulled out my 8th grade yearbook page (yes, in my small town Vermont class of 25 students we all got our own page!). Each student was assigned the task of finding and filling their page with photos, words, symbols, or quotes (remember there was no internet and no fancy printers in those days…) that gave others a picture of who we were and what we were all about.
Looking back at my page cracks me up now because, of course, I was in 8th grade and had no clue who I really was! I thought I was all about recycling and world peace, art and music, and “dreaming a better world”. I may have cared about those things some – but really, all I was doing was looking at the world around me and trying to become what I thought they wanted me to be.
I was looking in the wrong mirrors.
When we look to the world around us, expecting to see who we are, how we’re doing, or who we’re supposed to be – all we get are warped reflections. Because every one of those mirrors has an angle – especially the world of social media (which I’m so glad didn’t exist when I was in 8th grade – can I get an “amen”?!)
Even though all these years later I know who I really am, I still find it tempting to just take a quick glance at what’s out there every once in a while.
Some days I see a reflection of “not active or healthy enough”. Often I see a reflection of “not enough of an activist“. I see a reflections of “not hip enough,” “not funny enough,” and “not creative enough”. And, of course, you can’t scroll through your news feed lately without being told that 17 reasons everything you’ve ever thought was incorrect or 18 ways everything you’ve ever done could have been done better.
It’s exhausting! Looking for your reflection among these mirrors only leaves you feeling stressed and depressed. Whatever reflections of yourself you’re seeing out there in our world of comparison, remember that they’re distorted. Squished. Widened. Angled. They’re not accurate.
The only way to get a clear view is to turn your eyes to the One who formed you and knows you better than you’ll ever know yourself. It’s in knowing Him that we “find” ourselves – because it’s in knowing Him that we begin to understand His work.
The more you look at God, the more you’ll understand that He does everything with purpose – and that He never makes mistakes. The more you look at God, the more you’ll be in awe of His ways – and the more you’ll learn to trust that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). The more you look at God, the more you’ll see that He works more in the unseen than the seen, and that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) And the more you look at Him, the more you’ll be aware of the fact that “God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” (Philippians 2:13) Because of Christ, you are enough.
“O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.” (Psalm 139:1) God, thank you for forming me so well, knowing me so well, and working in me so well. Help me to keep my eyes on you and trust that it’s only Your reflection of me that counts. Amen.