Friday, February 21, 2014

Faith and Betrayal

For awhile, I've been thinking about betrayal. Specifically, the betrayal of the mirror. 

I don't know if this is everybody, or if it's just me, but I seldom find what I expect to see in the mirror. This is true regardless of what kind of day I'm having. If I'm having one of those days where life is good, laughter abounds, and I just feel really good about things and totally free, it's not uncommon to look in the mirror and wonder what the grumpy, frumpy girl is doing staring back at me. Such are the days when I don't look as beautiful as I feel. On the other hand, if I'm having a terrible day, nothing is going right, I'm knock-down, drag-out tired, I might look in the mirror and see just this incredible life in my eyes that betrays my sagging heart. Those are the days when I don't feel as beautiful as I look.

I've been thinking about such things because back in November, I got a new haircut before attending my friend's wedding out of state. And for the first time in perhaps my life, the stylist NAILED it. My hair looked so good. The nail in the coffin was in early December when my new glasses arrived. And then it wasn't long after that I accidentally caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thought, "There she is!" There is the girl God created. Now, granted, this all came around a time when I was experiencing a spiritual renewal and awesome confident faith in my life. Probably no coincidence.

But now I see her, and I've been trying to make sense of, well, so many things. I have wanted to share some of this (because I believe we ought to share our journeys more than our destinations) but really didn't want to draw it back to me. I wasn't really sure what God would have to say about all this, though, except what He's whispered in my spirit and my personal relationship with God is, well, personal. I thought about that Scripture in James where he talks about the man who looks at himself in the mirror and goes away, forgetting what he looks like. I identify with that in all those years of betrayal, and I think I'm not alone. I think most of us are surprised at what we look like on any given day. But as good as that concept was, in itself it sort of betrayed this experience I've been having.

And then, this morning, there was this. From Romans 12:3:

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

It's not a translation I normally use, but it popped up on my Facebook feed from a friend at church in just this text. And you know what? I think that speaks to what this experience really is. In the Aidan translation, the text reads this:

It takes a measure of faith to see yourself the way God sees you, not as better or worse than you actually are, but with honest eyes and sober judgment. In faith, you see in the mirror what God sees in you.

I think this is the exhilaration of it all. I think this is the very understanding my heart has been coming to over the past few months. When you know God and believe what He says, you see yourself the way He sees you and discover that's enough

That's what sober means. It means not under the influence. Not under the influence of a world that says you have to be prettier. That you have to look different. That you have to be different. That today, as you are, you are somehow less. And not under the influence of a world that tells you you're fabulous, that you couldn't possibly be any better, that you're awesome just how you are. As long as you can keep that up...

Under sober judgment, there is no influence. Things simply are the way they are. You are the way you are. And with faith that God is who you believe Him to be, and who He promises to be, there's no pressure. There's no stress to be anything other. There's no worry about whether you feel more beautiful than you look or you look more beautiful than you feel or if neither is the case today. You look in the mirror and see what God sees.

The cool thing about that is that in faith, there is no longer betrayal. You can be less than what God has hoped you to be, and the very same faith that you gives you the eyes to see that also shows you His grace. So you're not defeated by your appearance; you're humbled by His grace. You can think more of yourself than what God sees in you, but the faith that reminds you what God sees also tells the story of His provision. You realize all you have is God's, and you tone it down.

Faith keeps betrayal in check. It gives you eyes to see, even to see yourself, as God sees. It lets you see the potential, the beauty, the promise, the calling, the createdness, the very preciousness that God has woven into your being from the very womb. You believe in God, and that gives you the vision to believe in yourself as His beautiful creation, His beloved daughter, His precious child. 

Then one day, you're fetching something out of the bathroom vanity and catch just a glimpse of yourself in the mirror as you're turning around, and you stop dead in your tracks. The image is caught in the image of your eye, and you take a second look. Slowly, you smile and think, peacefully, "There she is!"

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