You know that “larger than most” mirror the wicked queen peers into in Snow White? Well, that is about the size and appearance of the mirror which greeted me as I entered a hotel room recently. No doubt the use of numerous large mirrors in the small room was intended to create the optical illusion that guests where in much larger spaces. Unfortunately the only thing the mirrors made look “larger” was my midsection.
It was impossible to not look at yourself as you passed this enormous, gold rimmed mirror plastered against the entry wall. I averted my gaze at first, but that only drew my attention to the sink to ceiling mirror in the bathroom. To make it even worse, the hotel kindly included a movable magnifying mirror in the bath area as well. When I sat at the desk in the room to check e-mail I had two choices, stare at the screen or my own image which was reflecting back at me from the 3X4 mirror which hung above the desk. Seriously, five various mirrors total in one small room?
I have to say, after eight hours on the road to visit my daughter in South Carolina, I was not pleased with how I appeared in each of those mirrors. I kept turning on lights in the room hoping maybe it was just the way the room was lit, sigh…nope, it was me. I definitely looked like I had been on the road all day.
My hair, which is quite thin by nature, looked like it belonged to someone else. I tried a “new style” recently and, for the first time, I was getting a chance to actually get a good look at it I suppose. I have just returned from a vacation and the deep brown of my face caught me off guard. My wrinkles, which normally I don’t mind, looked more prominent than I recalled. I was also alarmed at how “puffy” I looked. I knew I had recently located some pounds I had previously lost, but the plethora of reflective devices brought it to the forefront of my thoughts. I needed to get out of the room.
The next day, as we walked past places of business which lined the old town streets, the sun’s rays struck each storefront window in such a manner as to create very reflective surfaces. It was impossible to avoid glimpses of myself as we walked from store to store. I tried to look at other things, people or cars, but this only resulted in a very embarrassing, thigh bruising encounter with a fire hydrant.
The inside of each store did nothing to provide me refuge from my reflection. Mirrors of various shape and size dotted every wall it seemed. I darted between the racks of clothing trying to NOT look. All this did was distort the images I glimpsed into a Picasso like version of myself.
Those few days in “reflection city” brought some things to my attention that I had, until that time, managed to delude myself about. While I am thankful for this recent reality check, it is striking to me given the situation I found myself in only days prior to this trip.
I had just returned from spending a week on a boat. The only mirror was on the medicine cabinet door in the boat’s bathroom. For an entire week I maybe saw myself once or twice a day, and even then it was never the entirety of my being. As I went through each day, I never wondered if my hair was in place or if my attire was complimentary to my figure. I paid no attention to my makeup, or the lack of it, once I walked away from this solitary mirror.
At first it seemed liberating. I experienced a sort of carefree attitude about my appearance. This was a much easier existence than my normal need to take care of myself, but it would come at a price. You see, eventually my vacation photos would reveal the reality of it all.
I know many of you would argue that the mirror less existence would be in line with the Godly principle of humility, not caring about things of the world, appearances or what others thought…but having an accurate reflection of one’s self is key to making choices and changes. I was happy not knowing what I looked like because it absolved me from needing to make corrections…but that is not good if correction is needed.
As I drove home from South Carolina I kept thinking of all those mirrors. What if my spiritual self was placed before so many reflective surfaces? What if, at every turn or encounter in my day, I could see the true state of my spiritual walk? How often do I attend church, or a Bible study, and in that time see clearly how God is revealing the places in my life in need of His touch, or the sins that I need to confess and lay at His feet? How often does my desire to tend to these spiritual revelations fade once I am no longer in those surroundings? It is easy to forget what we look like on the inside and even easier to avoid the challenge to change once we look away.
Suddenly I am feeling the need to surround myself with the most effective spiritually reflective surface, The Word of God.
For anyone who is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in the mirror; and once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he is. James 1:23-24