The Man in the Mirror
When was the last time you looked in the mirror and liked who you saw? Aside from God, the person in the mirror is the one person you must have peace with to live an authentic and joyful life. This person will stay with you for the most prolonged time and will ultimately decide your fate. If you were to take in the complete form of who you are, good parts and bad, would you be able to accept this person standing in front of you? Will you be kind and forgive this person? Or will you allow yourself to be at constant war with who God has created you to be? The truth is many people refuse to look at who they are, choosing to put on airs and façades that better suit them.
Don’t trade the truth for a lie.
For example, if you cannot accept that you have a temper, your soul puts on the mask of a victim. It’s just easier for you to point out the wrong in others than to grow up in Christ. You could pierce your tongue with ready-made insults, curse words, and gossip for anyone who crosses you. Whenever you see scars on yourself from your past fade, you begin to memorialize the pain and tattoo your trauma on your shoulder for everyone to see. Eventually, all the wrong you have ever experienced covers your skin like a tattoo collecter. Fully dressed in the colors of the past but vulnerable to your present and dubious of your future.
If you could wear concealer to hide all the secrets and sins for those around you, then you can continue to sing praises to God in church, but no one would know that you are one lousy comment away from a breakdown. God forbid anyone gets to know your flaws! They would just be disgusted at what they saw, and you would no longer have admirers of everything you do.
Yet you forget the one tragic flaw to this cleverly made disguise that you have created. God can still see you. He still knows it’s you, and He wants you to stop pretending. Just as a concerned parent would say not to dress a certain way before leaving the house, God does not want you to leave earth covered in the costume of life. He wants you to be the child he raised and not walk in a size extra small, ill-fitting superhuman outfit.
Jesus is the only superhero.
Although accepting the reality of who you are is difficult, it is not impossible. The journey towards acknowledging your weaknesses and strengths takes time, but if you are dedicated to making peace with them, God will help with the rest. Today we will discuss some mindsets that could change how you relate to yourself, God and others. So pick up your mirror, stand tall, roll up your sleeves, and have a real conversation. It’s time to get to know the man in the mirror.
You are not your story.
It’s riveting, upsetting, romantic, tumultuous, and adventurous, but not everyone needs to hear it. You may think that rehashing your past’s story to justify your present will give you closure, but all it does is prevent you from living out your peace. Some situations are not in your control that can change your whole life; the rest are circumstances that we allow to change our worldview. Most of the time, when we live through tragedy or even triumph, we tell ourselves that these episodes within our lives are what make us who we are.
We get attached to a vision of ourselves for better or worse, neglecting the reality God has created for us. The idol of everything we missed out on, and everything we were, poisons our hearts in life. Scripture says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: But when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 NKJV. That means if you never see your desires come, you can become a bitter person.
On the other hand, if the hopes you had come around again, then you have joy. That is too much power to give anything in this world other than God. Paul states in scripture that “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” Philippians 3:8 NKJV. In the grand scheme of life, all of the achievements and disappointments we hoard in our hearts mean very little in reality. The world will still turn, time will still tick, and God is always in control. The only thing that truly matters is that God, the creator of everything, sacrificed Himself to give you life, and more abundantly. You don’t need to worry about how the story unfolds if you already know its end. Jesus paid it all.
You are not your sins, and you are not your tragedies or victories. You are loved, exquisitely, and unlimited. You didn’t earn it, so you can’t possibly be perfect enough to attain it. You can’t revoke it. That means that every time you trudge through life, breaking at every tragedy, your mere survival is a marker of enduring love. If you are breathing, the story is not over yet. Every time you try to write your life story based on one portion in time, it does a great disservice to the beautifully intricate story God authored for you that is yet to unfold.
You can acknowledge that you have teeth without having to bite someone. But, like it or not, we all have a dark side. Most of us bite because we feel like it. We all have questionable traits that need to be put in check constantly. For example, suppose you walk tall and upright during the day, but as soon as someone blocks your car in traffic, you cuss under your breath. Are you not indulging in something less than Christ-like? As much as we would love to pretend to be perfect, we needed a savior. Jesus died for sins, and you, my friend, have them. It is never okay to be a jerk to someone, no matter how much they deserve it. We are called to be examples in the world, yes, but pretending that there isn’t a battle to be had daily is just a lie. In scripture, we are given an example of this holy war within us.
“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25 NKJV.
Our minds rehearse the rights and wrongs of life daily, but sometimes our bodies fall into our base temptations. So instead of making excuses for why you sin or have a character flaw, own it. You know that you have a weakness for lust, envy, pride, or strife because you have never turned down an opportunity to get involved. For example, I irrevocably adore Coca-Cola. So much so that my husband proposed with them, spelling out, “will you marry me?”. But, instead of saving the coke-filled bottles, I drank the coke inside and put away the glass. My then fiancé was perplexed at my audacity to drink the coke inside, looking at me as I gave a simple shrug. Finally, I told him,” You know I love coke; I don’t know why you expected anything else to happen.” The same could be said when we entertain the sins we know we are addicted to. We may pout and pretend that we do not have issues that we deal with, but in reality, it is as plain as your face is in the mirror. It’s time to grow up, put on your adult pants, and own up to the fact that you need some self-control.
If you never say no to yourself and give in to every desire that arises, you are just a hedonist playing at holiness. Scripture says, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:12-13 NKJV. God is not some hypocrite in the sky demanding you to achieve the impossible; He is calling you to be the better person that, at times, you do not care to be. It is easier to give in to your dark side because it is both intoxicating and thrilling to participate in taboo. When you were a child and stole a cookie from the jar, you got a rush from being wrong. Your flesh-driven self would say,
“Come to the dark side; we have cookies!” validating your decision.
Self control is for adults!
The cookie could have been sub-par in taste, and it didn’t matter. You did what you wanted to do; consequences be damned. Then the thrill would die down, and the punishment did come. You found yourself alone in a corner balling your eyes out, and for what? A temporary rush that wasn’t even that good. As adults in the real world, it’s an even worse look. You could see the danger of going to the club; God gives you the ability to call an Uber, but still, go with your friends to get plastered until dawn. Is this too real for you? How about when you are at work and someone is being talked about? Your coworkers call you to join in because they know this person is tough on you too. You could participate to be liked, or you can use the way of escape and be professional. Either way, your boss is around the corner watching which choice you make.
When we own up to our weaknesses, we can allow God to give us strength. Rarely, if ever, a person who refuses to acknowledge a problem gets the healing and transformation they need. We can either rely on the wisdom God gives us or let knowledge and experience be our teachers. Pain, self-loathing, and failure come from living on the edge. It is better to have temporary dissatisfaction than a lifetime of regret. As believers who dare to live right in an indulgent world, it is never easy but entirely possible. The only way to have peace with your darker side is to acknowledge it and bring it to Jesus. Otherwise, your dark side will consume you, your purpose, and your destiny.
One life. No rehearsal.
Lights, camera, and action! Most people are performing day to day with no film. You are not a character in a movie; stop living your life as if you are vying for the leading role. Whether we are trying our best to be the picturesque support for our family or the best example in our social life, it is an act that needs to end. Pretending to be what everyone else wants only robs the beauty of being yourself from the world. I can no better be you than you can be me. You may not be as strong, clever, or artistic as other people out there, but only one person can pull your particular brand of expression off in existence. If you never nurture your talents, strengths, or curiosities, it would be a terrible loss for everyone involved.
Take Nehemiah, for example; he was so grieved by the chaos of his homeland that he decided to take action into his own hands. He would ask to build a wall for his country and ultimately become the right man to lead his people. Nehemiah owned up to who he was in culture and spirit to the king, regardless of the possible backlash. “And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.” Nehemiah 2:5-6. Nehemiah was not the only person grieved by the broken city, but he was the man bold enough to do something about it. How often have you hidden a part of yourself because you perceived a lack of support? Never underestimate your impact on your community. Nehemiah didn’t have time to rehearse doubts saying that he was “just a cupbearer,” he diligently went to work on his calling. He used his organizational skills to bring his vision to life, and anything that he couldn’t do personally, he found someone who could. If you never act, there could be a whole city that never heals because of it. If you never work, there could be someone who could never begin.
Take Responsibility! Take Action!
In scripture, we learn to see ourselves as magnificent works of art that reflect the love and being of God. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14. God certainly makes no mistakes, so it is finally time to stop seeing the life you are given that way. We are given an excellent opportunity to bring light into a world that is desperate for it. It would be a shame to hide the beauty that God made in you. You only have one shot at this life. Wouldn’t you rather live life with no regrets? There will always be something you should have done by societal standards. The only criteria that may keep you up at night are God’s and your own. There is nothing like the failure to take action. So when you are facing the decision to either be yourself or a character, I hope you choose to be you.