I grew up hearing people call me fat and that did two things. One, it created my tough chick alter ego, and two, it gave me a love-hate relationship with mirrors.
To stop myself from falling apart whenever someone said something negative about me or to my face, I had to start being tough. I perfected the I-don’t-care-what-you-think attitude. With it, I used the I-love-who-I-am-everyone-is-beautiful comeback to shame other people for saying what they said, or preventing them from saying it in the first place.
I also created the you-don’t-look-so-good-yourself stare. Friends told me I had this “look that could kill.” It was a don’t-mess-with-me-you’d-regret-it look. I had a lot of hyphenated looks and attitude! But they all had one purpose: to create an outer shell that protected me inside.
Inside, I was vulnerable and insecure. In the privacy of my room, loved playing with mirrors, especially compact makeup powders. I pretended to see a different me. I imagined how I could be. In public, I didn’t linger around them especially when someone else is beside me. Public mirrors made me play the comparison game.
It took a long time of learning to love and accept myself before I can find freedom in a mirror. Before I can look at my reflection and see a child of God whom He loves, and so love myself as well.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalm 139:14, NIV.
God had to become my mirror. I had to see myself the way He sees me. To forgive myself as He forgives me. To give myself grace as He gives me grace. To accept my assets and flaws just as He accepts all of me just as I am. To get back up when I fail just as God is calling me to do.
Often times, Christians use God as a mirror that reflects only our shortcomings to guilt-trip us into being better Christians. The problem is we’re imperfect humans that will continue to mess up. We will never measure up to God’s standards, which is why He sent Jesus in the first place. God gives us grace because He knows we’ll mess up.
When God is our a mirror that only reflects our mistakes, it’s hard to get back up. It may motivate us to do better, but that cycle of trying to do better, failing, trying, and failing again will wear anyone out. It doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried.
When God is our mirror that reflects His love for us, we stop trying to measure up. We stop trying to earn our worth or our spot in heaven or Christian points. When we can see God’s love for us, we live in that love. It means, forgiving, accepting, and loving our imperfect selves. It means trying to do better because we love God and want to honor Him with the way we live our lives.
Guilt will still be around. Feelings of failure will still come knocking. Frustration will happen. But we don’t have to stay there. Instead, we can turn to the Father and see Him calling us back to Him, encouraging us to get up and keep moving forward. Keep persevering. To press on toward His call, purpose, and plans.
When you see yourself in a mirror, may you truly embrace the person God fearfully and wonderfully created. May you respect God’s awesome creation that is you. May you know full well how wonderful you are.