I looked in the mirror this morning.
Which isn’t unusual, because it’s situated in the walkway of my room, and I glance at it fairly often when I’m preparing for my day, because I work with children all week and want to give them the idea that modest and fashionable can be synonymous (but also because, if we’re being completely honest, I can be rather vain at times.)
And I’m grinning sheepishly at the view, of a bleary-eyed young woman, with her glasses bent slightly askew from adjusting them so much, her comfy, giant college-that-I’m-not-actually-going-to-they-just-gave-me-it-for-free-and-it’s-comfortable-shirt enveloping me, and my bare feet giving the impression of the princess from Tangled, which is a apt description of both my hair’s length and state.
And so I laugh gently at myself, pull my hair out of my face, and get started with my day.
But on my wall there are some pictures. (Actually, no, that isn’t true, they’re sitting on my dresser because in the busyness of life hanging-pictures-on-wall is so far down on the list that I still haven’t gotten around to it.)
And those pictures show a little girl, smiling and laughing, poised and pert, always ready with a retort or reply.
But you know what? I like the woman in the mirror better than that girl.
Not because of how they look, or anything about being content with who you are, or anything like that. (While not stressing over your appearance is a good lesson, it’s not what this is about today. So just push that idea to the sideline for a sec. It’s not what we’re talking about. Ok? Thanks.)
No, the person in the mirror is better because she has grown, she has matured, she’s not the same.
Because that girl in the pictures? She fully lived up to the red-headed temper. She was selfish. She ached for the spotlight, which fortunately she never got. She was lost in her own self-righteousness. She allowed her own limited sense of lust to run rampant. Yelling at siblings, living in self-doubt and self-righteousness at the same time, toeing the line while pretending to be the perfect model of the good girl — she had problems. Big ones. Even after Christ came in and started renovating. Because it’s a long process, and the flesh is hard to kill.
But while pictures are just a freeze-frame of a single moment, mirrors are reflections of lives.
Because sometimes I forget that. I look in the mirror and see the same features, and think nothing has changed. Those eyes that can be so judgmental. That mouth that can be so quick to snap out reproach. Those hands that are so ready to reach and long for things that aren’t yet theirs. The thoughts, the memories, the failures — some days they stare back at me in the mirror, changing the person reflected there back into those pictures, whispering “We’re still here. You’ve never really escaped us. You think you’ve changed? No, you’re still exactly the same, exactly the same worthless sinfulness — sinful mess — you were before!” And I get caught back up in the photographs, those old freeze-frames of the old me.
But mirrors don’t show what was in the past. They show the now. They show the reality of the present.
I am not the same as my old photographs. Christ has changed me. I’ve gained victories. I don’t wrestle with assurance anymore. I don’t read things that heighten my wrongful desires. My unwarranted anger at those I love has been dissolved. And yes, I still have some of the same struggles, but even those have gotten better. I don’t blow up as much as I used to, because He gives me strength to just breath and remember what He has endured from me. My self-righteousness, though it pokes up its head from time to time, has gotten easier and easier to identify, and I can remind it how terrible I am without Him. My longings, though there are moments when they seem overwhelming, can be banished when reminded of God’s desire for me.
And none of this is to boast. None of this is to say I have it all together. I don’t, and there are days when everything in my flesh is determined to prove to me that I am very much weak. But this a reminder. A reminder that He is a faithful to keep His promises, to create a good work in you. (Phil 1:6) A reminder that creates beautiful things out of dust. A reminder that you are not the same. A reminder that those old snapshots of all of us — those pictures of hate, of anger, of greed, of lust, of self-doubt, of foolishness, of selfishness, of worthlessness — aren’t here any more. They’re in the past.
When we look in the mirror, we shouldn’t just see ourselves. We should see the reflection of Christ, the One Who makes all things new doing His work. (Rev 21:5) For when we live in, when we behold, the glory of the Lord we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor 3:18)
We are changed. We have grown. We are made new.
The woman and the girl facing each other aren’t the same. Sure, they have some of those same traits, some of those same old battles I struggle with. But I am not those old photographs anymore. I have been changed. Because the woman there in the mirror should reflect more and more of Christ everyday. Even in my bent glasses and comfy t-shirts.
We are changed. We have grown. We are made new.