“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?”
The beautiful queen in the fairy tale, “Snow White” daily peers into her mirror to see how she stacks up against the other women in her kingdom. As long as the mirror gives the right answer, she is happy. If she gets a wrong answer, she flies into a rage and everyone around her is in danger of her wrath.
So many women today are like the queen. Only their mirrors are a tad different. They look to their bathroom scales and full-length mirrors to find out how they stack up against the women on television or the latest magazines. If the scales give them thumbs-down, they go on a diet, often to the detriment of their health. If the mirror gives them thumbs- down, they rush to the store to buy the latest brand of make-up or the latest fashion, thinking that they will look more like the air-brushed woman on the front cover of the magazine, or the emaciated bikini body on the television. They are on a treadmill of ever-diminishing returns. They will never be satisfied, because they are looking for beauty in all the wrong places.
Sadly, many women have lost touch with the fact that the Lord created every woman to be unique with special qualities all her own. Some will be tall and thin; some will be short and fluffy, while others are in between, but all are beautiful in God’s sight. In fact, the Bible says that men and women were created in God’s image, and that He was pleased with His creation.
Three keys will help women to get off the treadmill of looking in the self-destructive mirrors of today.
1. Accentuate the positive.
2. Evaluate the inner-person by comparing yourself against your yesterdays.
3. Quit looking in the mirror and become a positive mirror for someone else.
Johnny Mercer’s song of the 1940s has some good advice.
You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
Accentuating the positive means that you look for your God-given qualities and enhance what He has given. If you are short and fluffy, be glad that you have a healthy body. Notice how your eyes shine when you really smile. Celebrate that your hair is a mousy brown and that you are not bald. Wear clothes that draw attention to your best features. If you are tall and thin, but your teeth are crooked, don’t quit smiling; get braces. If you can’t afford braces, don’t quit smiling, rejoice that you have teeth. Pay attention to your shiny hair and bright eyes. People don’t generally look at your faults. They look at what you draw attention to by your self-conscious behavior. People are drawn like magnets to people who have a sense of humor. I remember in high school a man who came to speak at an assembly. He was a short bald man, but we loved him as the assembly progressed. At the beginning of the presentation, he said, “I have hair on my chest, but I didn’t let it go to my head.” The audience roared, forgot that he was bald, and listened to his message.
Evaluate the inner-person by comparing yourself against your yesterdays. Since you can’t possibly be exactly like someone else, why would you think that you could do the same thing another person does and become exactly like them? When you start with a different product, you will inevitably end with a different product. It is counterproductive to compare your worst self, to someone else’s best self, but that is what we do when we look at other people as our model for self-improvement. When we are doing a self-evaluation, we need to ask, “Am I fairer than I was yesterday? Am I getting closer to the picture Christ expects of me?” First Corinthians chapter 13 is a wonderful evaluation template.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (1 Cor. 13:1)
Am I honest in my quest for charity? In other words, do I love people for the right reason? Do I love them because they boost my self-esteem and make me feel good, or do I try to make them feel better because I love them? If I am giving charity and love for all the wrong reasons, I will sound hollow and empty inside, like a trumpet that is off-key or an instrument that clangs without meaning or purpose.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.(1 Cor. 13:2-3)
We can be very successful, even famous in the eyes of the world, but if our heart is not right and we don’t do things out of love, we are of little value in God’s kingdom. The world may see us doing great things, but our self-worth is shaky. We are constantly searching for validation from our peers. True self-worth comes from our relationship with God. If we have that, we have everything; if we don’t, we have nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-6)
When we have a relationship with God, the rest of the charity evaluation becomes easy. We see ourselves as God sees us. We can suffer all kinds of persecution, sorrow, and privation, and we turn to God, not the world, to help us through. Consider Job and his plight. If we love and serve God, we do not behave in a manner that brings contempt upon us. We don’t seek everything for ourselves. We see God as our Father and his children as our brothers and sisters. We become as concerned about the comfort of others as we are about our own comfort. We don’t rejoice in wickedness, but we find pleasure in doing and promoting goodness in the world. We are able to bear all the troubles of the world, but we keep our eyes continually on eternal things. We hope for the day when Christ will reign in a world of peace.
As we build our relationship with deity, we are able to be an effective mirror for others. As mirrors for others, we are not concerned so much about how we look physically. We are concerned that the Spirit of God shines in our faces as we extend our hands to help others. A perfect latest-fashion hair-do is not as valuable as a wash-and-go attitude toward every person in need. We don’t notice how our clothes hang on our bodies. We are concerned about the feeble knees and the hands that hang down in hopelessness. We are not concerned about how many pairs of shoes match our outfits; we are concerned about how many feet can wear shoes because we are willing to share. We do not worry about our make-up, because we know that beauty is not a mask. Beauty comes from the heart. As we grow old, we are not worried about the wrinkles in our faces. We know we must grow old and die. It is part of the plan, but the wrinkles we carry will speak volumes about how many smiles or frowns painted our faces over the course of a lifetime. Laugh lines are beautiful!
In the story of Snow White, the queen, who checked her mirror every day, came to a bad end. She fell into an abyss. I would say in the modern vernacular she fell into an abyss of sorrow. A woman who constantly tries to please everyone, and make herself into an image of someone else, lives in a pit of dissatisfaction.
I, of course, don’t believe that fairy tales are true, but often they are parables of the human condition. So when I say, “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” I look at the condition of my heart, because I know the bathroom scales lie, and the magazines and television will never be able to help me find my true self. I look through a glass darkly, because one day I will meet Christ face to face, and I want to be a reflection of His love, not a reflection of the world. PD