Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

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Reflections...What or Who?

by Erica Green

Reflections...What or Who?  --  God made us all "beautiful"

I would like to take this opportunity to share some advice with my women friends.  This advice comes in the form of a warning of potential damage to our emotional health and general well-being.  This hazard is particularly prevalent as we come into the summer months, taking on an outwardly innocent form, but I admonish you not to be fooled.  Before you go into another shopping centre change room this summer, be prepared for battle, with yet another full length mirror.

There was a time when the shops were well lit and the change rooms were dark and dingy.  But now you could conduct brain surgery under the lighting conditions in the change rooms.  Every little bump, sag, wrinkle and vein is amplified to substantial proportions as you gaze into the full-length mirror on the wall in front of you.

Gone also are those cheap shabby mirrors.  You know the ones with the bumps and colour distortions upon which you could blame the effects of the ravages of time, or the extra kilo or two from Christmas, which now confronts you.

The overwhelming evidence of a well overdue hairdressing appointment seems to shine, with a 'new improved OMO' whiteness, around your temples and the roots of your hair.  Your bathroom mirror exposes nothing as obvious as this.

You wish for public toilet blue lights, so that you do not have to see the ever growing network of varicose veins spreading their way across your legs like an estuary map.  Blue lights don't do a lot for stretch marks though, so I guess it is a toss up as to which you go with.

You are forced to face the realization that you are a walking testament to the theory of gravity, as you view in stark clarity, the ground-wards impact that gravitational forces are having on your body parts.

As if that were not enough, every wall of the change room has a mirror strategically placed at just the right angle so that you can see the back of your head and … well … the back of other parts of your body as well.  The fact that most of us have a mirror or two at home, into which we look with varying regularity, has generally served to condition us regarding what to expect when gazing upon the front of our countenance.  The back section, however, can be a bit of a shock. 

No matter how tall you stand, how hard you squint or how much you clench … there it is.  Wherever you position your gaze, there is your bottom in glorious 'hospital theater' lighting.  At least in the theater they anaesthetize you for such a harrowing experience.  No such luck here girls, you just have to grin and bear it.  It is at times like this, that there is something to be said for the phenomenon of ignorance.  Too late now, you have looked the beast in the eye and can be ignorant no longer.  Do we really care about what people think of us as we are leaving anyway?  Oh yeah, that was convincing.

Then on top of all this they expect you to get your gear off and afterward feel really good about shelling out hundreds of dollars for the outfit, or worse still the tiny swimming 'cozzie', that you have just tried on under such harrowing conditions.  You have got to be kidding me.  Even Elle McPherson could go into one of these cubicles and come out suffering from cellulite-induced despair.  So what hope is there for the rest of us mortals?

And yet you ask any woman to go without her mirror and you will see the irony of it all.  Can't do without them, can't cope with them.  What is it with this love hate relationship between women and mirrors?  We look in the mirror with a critical eye, metaphorically asking:  "Do I look okay?  Is there anything that needs fixing? How am I measuring up to other's expectations of how I should look?"  Even the most gorgeous woman will be able to give you a list of all the things that are wrong with her and the things that she does not like.  Too much time in front of the mirrors in shopping centers, I say.

For those of you who have suffered such an assault on your person, as I have described here, don't despair, there is a way forward.  Liz Curtis Higgs (1997) reminds us of the limitations of the standard mirror image and goes on to suggest an alternative reflection.  Standard mirror reflections may be able to show us what we look like but they are not so good at showing us a picture of who we are.  For an accurate image of that, we need to try looking into a different mirror.  Take a look into the word of God and see the image of you that is portrayed there. 

(These are only a small example of the bible's reflections.  I hope it starts to whet your appetite for more.)

The Word of God reflects back that you are Beautiful -  "He has made everything beautiful in its time …" (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

People say that when women are pregnant, or when they are in love their appearance changes.  You know, 'the glow'.  This is supposedly as a result of some chemical reactions in the body that have a real impact on how we look.  I have no idea how this works.  I do not have a scientific bone in my body, but I am willing to acknowledge the evidence that I see around me.  Look around and see for yourself.

So why not at a spiritual level too?  When you allow God to fill your heart with his unlimited love, it will show on the outside.  I know some amazing elderly Christian ladies that I could only describe as beautiful.  Sure, they have the odd wrinkle, but that does not detract from their beauty.  You can see vibrant life in their eyes.

The bible reflection shows that you are beautiful. God does not make junk. 

The Word of God reflects back that you are Perfect - "By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."  (Hebrews 10:14 NIV)

Hey Elle! Would you be game enough to claim perfection? You can you know.

This is an unusual text because it combines past and present tense.  Those that are "being" made holy "are" perfect.  Usually for something to be perfect it needs to be finished.  You would not say that an uncooked cake was perfect or that a car that did not have an engine yet was perfect.  But you don't have to wait until the work of "being made holy" is complete in order to be deemed perfect.  Even better still, instant perfection.  Patience not being one of my few virtues.

The bible reflection shows that when we are completely God's, we are made completely perfect too. 

The word of God reflects back how precious you are to God - "… Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession. " (Deuteronomy 14:2 NIV)

I guess the concept of 'treasured possessions' came home to me a few years ago when we were helping my Aunt to pack up the things that were precious to her, in the oncoming path of a bush fire.  She did not pack up new or expensive items, but rather the things of emotional significance that had weathered the test of time:-  The old chiming clock that my Dad had fixed for her; Grandma's painting of poppies with the chipped frame; Her original design crocheted rugs that she had spent many nights creating; Her old hymnbooks with the faded thumbed through pages.

The bible reflection shows how much we are treasured by God and we can be assured that in the path of a raging fire, or the devil's onslaught if you like, that we will be the first thing that God snatches to safety.

God knows you better than anyone else can ever know you, and even better than you know yourself.  His level of comprehension leaves the intense revelation of 'hospital theatre' lights in any shopping centre change room for dead and yet He still calls you beautiful, perfect and his treasured possession.  "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV)

But wait, there is more, and it is so much better than a free set of steak knives.  The word of God is more than just a reflector of who we are.  The word of God "… is a mirror that changes us each time we look into it."  (Higgs, 1997, p129) 

So next time you look in a mirror, banish all thoughts of that face-lift and consider having a 'faith-lift' instead.  Spend a little bit of time finding out who you really are, through Gods eyes, and discover the impact that His image will have on you. "If you can spend 15 minutes a day getting your hair and makeup in place while staring in a mirror that will never change you permanently, then [surely] you can find 15 minutes to look into the Word, a mirror that will change you, inside and out…" (Higgs, 1997, p129)



Higgs. L.C.  (1997) Mirror, Mirror on the Wall Have I Got News For You.  Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.

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