James famously talks about a man who looks at himself in a mirror and then, going away, immediately forgets what he looks like.
I have kind of the opposite problem: I look at myself in the mirror and then, standing there, I forget who I am.
In the quiet of my own soul, it's often easy for me to connect with God. Connected with Him, I feel like I understand quite a few things that I probably still can't explain. But I know them.
I know who He is. I know who I am. I know who He has created me to be, and the work that He has set before me in this world. I feel His very presence in my heart, and all of the good things like love, grace, mercy, and joy just seem to overflow into all the empty spaces of who I'm not. In the quiet of my own soul, I know myself. And I know my God.
But stand me in front of a mirror, and I don't know what happens. Let me see myself as the world sees me, and it's far too easy for me to come to their conclusions. I'm a waste, I think. A waste of both talent and space. I'm a sad tale, indeed, such an empty, unfulfilled life. Nothing to brag of, not even anything to speak of. Falling short in my looks, but also in my grace. And let's not talk about my love, which is broken and faltered and faltering.
Stand me in front of a mirror, and I seem to see as the world sees. And I cannot, by any measure, remember what it is that I know so well in the quiet of my own soul.
Every once in awhile, perhaps, when I move too quickly and catch but a glimpse of my own reflection, I may be struck by my own beauty. Not a physical beauty, but a certain poise - the way the fleeting image in the mirror carries herself. And I think, aha! There she is! This is the woman that God created me to be. But give me any more than a glimpse, and I stand there and think, no. No, I must have been mistaken. This can't be her.
It's a constant battle for me. It's not got anything at all to do with physical appearance. There's not a single moment that I think that I would be more of the woman that God intended me to be if I did something different with my hair or if I had a little less acne or if my cheek bones were a little more or less pronounced. There's nothing in me that looks at my smile and thinks it would be more beautiful if it were straight. It's genuine, and that's beautiful enough for me.
And yet, there is still something about standing there, face-to-face with myself, that seems to call out all of my greatest insecurities, that seems to drown out what my heart knows so well.
The Bible cautions us not to see as the world sees, but to see as God sees. This is, I think, precisely why. For when we see with God's eyes, we know in the depths of our hearts. But when we see with the world's eyes, there is nothing that can convince us of grace.
I know what James was getting at when he was talking about the man who looks at himself in the mirror and goes away and forgets what he looks like. Yet I have to be honest and say that I know full well what I look like.
But when I look in the mirror, I forget who I am.