When I was growing up, as a little and teenaged girl, I spent a lot of time in front of mirrors. At home playing dress up or salon, the school bathroom, my personal compact mirror, my grandmother’s mirror after school as I tried on all her costume jewelry and makeup, even reflections in windows became mirrors for my friends and I as we hung out at restaurants and the local malls! Every ‘mirror’ gave a different reflection- some made me look more wide, some made me look more tall, some gave incredible clarity and some reflected a muted image, it all depended upon the mirror we were looking at. Some days we were pleased with what we saw – a new outfit, sparkly new earrings, killer hairstyle and makeup… and other days we were absolutely mortified at our reflections! The world was ending if the shirt I bought at the Limited (yes, I’m THAT, er, mature!) that was “so in” now made me look frumpy or fat– and what was I thinking buying that neon lipstick under deceptive fluorescent lighting that now made me look like a freak in daylight?! And, OH NO, not another blemish!!
I remember the thrill of getting my hair, makeup AND wardrobe just perfect on a school day morning knowing that I was going to enter into the school doors that day with my head held high. On one particular morning, I would say I must of checked my reflection at least ten times in various mirrors before heading in for classes. Those mirrors were crucial for me to pull off my perfected “look”.
I had a sweet friend in those younger years that no matter what she saw in the mirror as she gazed in it, to her, it was all wrong. I remember feeling so badly that she didn’t see her beautiful light hair, or gorgeous blue eyes. I watched her hang her head low in the hallway when the popular girls walked by, because she didn’t feel like she even came close to their “beauty”. No matter how hard she looked, she couldn’t see how beautiful she really was.
I, too, went through times of hating that sight in the mirror. So much so, that I struggled on and off with what I call a “flirting eating disorder”. I never quite moved into a full-fledged assault on the body I so desperately wanted to control because I knew enough about eating disorders that once you crossed a certain line it wasn’t “healthy” , but I made sure to buddy up as close to that border as I could without having to admit that I had a problem. During those times, no matter how much weight I lost, or how perfect my makeup was or how great my hair looked, when I looked in the mirror, I despised my reflection. No matter how many people told me how pretty I was, how great or skinny I looked, the way I saw myself in that mirror was distorted by my perception. I became so obsessed with what I thought I was seeing that I no longer could see the truth of my reflection in that mirror. It didn’t help my perception that I gazed into multiple types of mirrors to show me my reflection- so many of them gave a different reality each time I looked!
When I would snap out of it and come to my senses, I would marvel at just how distorted my reality had become. I was gazing into the very same mirror that just weeks before seemed to declare to me that I was ugly, fat and unworthy of love. Now, this same mirror reflected a healthy, fresh-faced, not too shabby looking girl. How could I bounce between two completely opposite extremes in such a short amount of time?
One thing I learned in a counseling session back then was that it was important for me to recognize the triggers that would lead me down the path of not seeing myself as I really was. I learned that a huge root for me was how I feared becoming like a relative whom I had witnessed many times take self image to a very unhealthy degree. I witnessed whole wardrobes being thrown into the garbage in a fit of rage because they no longer fit. This made me want to keep my weight under control by any means necessary so that I wouldn’t ever find myself in that position. A trigger for me could be as simple as another child at school giving me a disapproving glance. If a boy took notice of my natural curves, it sent me over the edge! If I overheard the girls at school talking about being over weight, I promptly went home right after school to pour over diet and exercise plans to make sure I was doing everything right to ensure that my weight would not become a problem. When I gave into the triggers- my thoughts led me to a distorted reality.
In order to prevent this from happening, I had to learn to reject the thoughts that told me I was ugly, too heavy, not good enough and unlovable. It wasn’t easy. I failed lots of times only to catch myself and have to steer my thoughts in the opposite direction. I remember going almost two days without food once before realizing that I was once again falling into old patterns… listen: it was so second nature to me that I didn’t realize on a full conscious level what I was doing! My thoughts gave birth to my actions. Over and over I had to work at training my mind to see the truth of my reflection in the mirror over the perception that lied to me. Over time, by shifting my perception, I was able to see what others saw: a pretty, healthy young woman who deserved to be loved just as much as anyone else and who was good enough.
After I gave my heart to the Lord at the beginning of my twenties, I once again stumbled upon the concept of re-training the mind.
Romans 12:2 says: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
This time, I was faced with a different kind of mirror: the Word of God. As I peered into this mirror, I saw what I wasn’t supposed to be and I saw who I should be striving to be. As I gave attention to being re-made in the image of Christ, the old passed away and I became new in so many areas I never thought possible.
As a believer, renewing my mind is now part of every day life. I have fallen into seasons, where I begin to forget who I am in Christ. I am especially vulnerable when crisis arises or when I become weary. My perception gets distorted and my mind at times needs some serious surgery of the Word. In the bible, we find out Who our God is, what He has done, what He is doing and who we are in Him. We see how we are to live, make decisions, have wisdom and how to overcome the world through Him. Going through painful things in life can often become triggers that discourage us from having the right perspective about people, ourselves or circumstances, and if we’re not careful, we can believe the lies that we are fed by the enemy and the world that has only one goal in mind: to steal, to kill, and to destroy.
I am grateful for the scriptures that tell me that I can repent, renew my mind and go on to greater identity in Him.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” – Romans 8:1
” In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” –Ephesians 1:7
“And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.” -2 Corinthians 3:18
“For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation…” Hebrews 4:15
We in Christ are constantly being transfigured into His very own image, we are to be reflecting more and more of His image and less and less of us as time and growth in Him go by. That process looks different for each of us, we each have our own starting and finish lines, authored, measured and finished by His Work in us, but ultimately, the fruit of being in Him shows up. When we have setbacks, get off course or simply fall- He is a sensitive High Priest who understands and is patient with us and faithful to bring our willing hearts back to His Plan.
And just like when I was younger, I need to shift my perception of who I really am on a daily basis –I must look into the mirror of the Word and align my perception of what God says about me. If, when I look in that mirror, I see something that doesn’t reflect who I am in Christ, I repent, change my mind and line myself back up to the image of Christ. Sometimes, I have to say to the Lord, “This is difficult for me to see, but Lord, You’re Word says it, therefore, I believe it.” And every time I catch a contrary thought trying to lead my mind, I cast it down and replace it with what God’s Word says. It’s a simple concept, and a battle worth the fight.
I suspect that there are many of us women who have been peering into many “mirrors”, except THE MIRROR that counts, and because of circumstances, hurts, fears and weariness, we have allowed our realities to be distorted in our minds. And our lives and actions reflect it. Our perspectives need to be changed! We see ourselves as victims, unworthy, unloved, defeated, poor and downcast…but in Christ’s reality we are overcomers, more than conquerors, of precious value, deeply loved, victorious, rich, empowered, and seated in heavenly places with Him! The way my eyes viewed my reflection in the mirror so many years ago- they lied to me. No matter how pretty or thin I really was, I couldn’t see the truth because my perspective overrode it. And so many of God’s children are doing the same thing– they are allowing their perspective to be influenced by the mirror of the enemy’s words, the world’s sub-par standards and the cares of life– Beloved this should not be!
Girls, God is saying that it’s time to accept what He says about us. We need a perspective shift for this last leg of the race or we’re not gonna make it. We must begin to see ourselves as the Blood-bought, power-filled Bride of the Lord! Here me: You cannot walk out what you cannot see. You cannot LIVE OUT what you do not believe! The only way your perspective will change is if you fill your mind with what He says rather than with what you think. We all love the Lord, we all want to be used by Him and for the purpose of the gospel. We all want Christ-centered marriages. We all want to raise godly families and produce the fruit of the Spirit. We all want to be healthy, courageous and good examples. But it won’t happen if we do not renew our minds to what His Word says, and then, by faith- walk it out.
This week, take some time to really peer into the mirror of His Word. Ask God to help you see yourself through His Eyes only. Purpose to pay attention to your thoughts and align them with whatever He shows you. Repent for not accepting His Word concerning you. Obey whatever He shows you to do and know that more than anyone on this earth, He is for you and not against you! You are precious to Him and treasured. You are loved.
So here’s the question of the week: What do you see when you look in the “mirror”?