Oh how it grieves me when people aren’t real. But, in their defense, I can understand why. Authenticity is often met with extreme resistance. People don’t like to face the truth, or worse yet, themselves. Sometimes it is frightening to look in the mirror, but we must. Otherwise, we’ll go our whole lives without a proper introduction to ourselves. It sure seems like some people are under the impression that looking outward will give them all the answers. If they eat enough meals with their friends, participate in enough movie nights, or date enough people, they will suddenly know themselves. Then, there are those lovely folks who withdraw from everyone entirely, even themselves. These are the ones we often find hiding in their locked dorm rooms, behind piles of books and endless facebook status updates. My question to these folks who look every direction but inward is this: Have you ever been introduced to yourself?
I know from experience that trying to walk in step with yourself when you don’t even know who you are often results in clumsy tripping and twisting of ankles. It cannot be done. A person can run from herself so long before the elastic gives way, and she’s forced to smack right into herself. It’s best just to get it over with.
We start by looking for mirrors. These aren’t the ones hanging on the walls. Mirrors are anything you can go to in order to see a reflection of yourself. Again, I’m still not talking about literal mirrors. Maybe you need to go to your parents. Take out the earplugs and listen to what they are trying to tell you about your behavior. This is a mirror. Take a look. Maybe a friend has been trying to hold you accountable and you just won’t have it. Let them hold up the mirror. Look deeply into it. Let it soak in. Maybe you should go for a walk and get away from everyone for awhile. Sometimes mirrors pop up next to trees and squirrels, or even within the cool breeze of a fall day. Did you see that leaf fall? That was a mirror.
And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t put on make-up and straighten the hair before you turn on the vanity light and step up to the glass. Instead, you wash your face. Scrub off the mask that has been glued to your face for so long. It takes discipline, it hurts, it burns, it stings. You hate it. You want to step away. You let down your hair without combing it. You acknowledge that is isn’t pretty. You whisper your distaste under your breath. You accept it. It tastes bitter at first, but that’s all about to change.
But soon, with perseverance and time, you glance up into the mirror, only to realize that you don’t recognize the person standing before you. Who are you? This is a beautiful moment because you might find, with a little courage and much prayer, that the person staring back at you is pretty cool. You might even like spending time with this person. You might even want to be more and more like her.
In my experience, I have found that the person in the mirror (me) is really funny. She tells the coolest jokes, although they might be a bit silly at times. She’s thoughtful and loves to think deeply about things. She struggles with work ethic, but knows how to seek out accountability for this problem. Sometimes she struggles with insecurities, but she is wise enough to distinguish lies from truth. She hates being single, but knows how to respect herself and God’s timing. She is loved by the King, and as one of her professors told her, is “brilliant in her own way”.
I am She. That cool person in the mirror is me! Why had I never gotten to know her? Until recently, I loved looking anywhere but to the mirrors spread all throughout my life. But I learned how much I needed to look inwardly at who I am. I’ve made a practice of taking off the mask and washing my face. I’ve made it my habit to be vulnerable in the face of opposition.
And I turn to this blog, which has become one of my very favorite mirrors. When I get lost and begin to forget what the young woman in the mirror looks like, I turn here. Then I remember.
There’s one last thing that I need to tell you (whoever might be reading this). There’s another figure in the mirror standing next to the young woman. He is beautiful, and I can see Him breathing life into her. His arms are around her, so very firmly, and He’s whispering “I am so in love with you” each and every time I look into the mirror. Yes, when we look to the mirror, we find that we not only come to know ourselves, but also our Savior. He stands in the mirror white-knuckling our identities from being swept away. Praise God.