Mirror, Mirror

In my fiftieth year of life, there are some aspects I like about getting older, such as growing a bit wiser, more experienced, more focused, and less concerned about little things that don’t matter.

But other things, I don’t like at all, such as the obvious signs of aging. Funny that Bill White talked about our obsession with ourselves and our own reflections in the first week of the “Me” series. This idea hits home to me in this season.

You see, in recent weeks I observe a tendency in myself to imagine that I look pretty good, say when I am having a conversation with someone or out to dinner. I feel confident in my cute outfit, picturing my good hair day and winning smile as I talk to others. But all of this quickly changes with a trip to the ladies’ room or a glance in any mirror! A strong feeling of disappointment overcomes me when I see myself, my actual almost-fifty-year-old self with bags under my eyes, crow’s feet, a few stray gray hairs sticking straight up. It’s a crazy trip on the continuum Bill talked about, where I am “boastful” of, or at least satisfied with, my appearance in my mind, but then awash in self-pity when I get a dose of reality and see my actual reflection. I am happy with my imagined self, but completely disdainful of my real self. Sounds pathetic, doesn’t it? Trust me, it feels that way too.

“Pride is at the center of all of this, whether I think I look good or haggard.”

Of course, pride is at the center of all of this, whether I think I look good or haggard. And it impacts the way I interact with others. I think about the ways in which I self-promote to elevate myself and my standing. Like Bill said, I want God to do my will; I want my world to revolve around me. By the world’s standards, this is an acceptable and even encouraged way to live.

But if I want to experience God’s favor and grace, God’s word tells me I must humble myself. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor” states one verse (James 4:10), and another confirms: “so humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor” (1 Peter 5:6). I can begin to humble myself by meditating on “the mighty power of God” and His attributes of God – His otherness, His greatness, His glory. He is so much more than I can ever comprehend! I am but a fleeting breath.

In The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Tim Keller asks “Don’t you want to be the kind of person who, when they see themselves in a mirror or reflected in a shop window, does not admire what they see but does not cringe either?” (35) I long to be that person! “The essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.” (32)  In thinking more about who God is, I become more consumed with Him and what He has done for me. I fill myself and my mind with Him, not with me and my petty insecurities and obsessions. My joy and peace don’t come from what I look like or any other earthly source. They never have come from that and they never will. My joy and contentment are in Christ alone and the sacrifice He made for me to be fully accepted, just as I am, by my Heavenly Father.

– Keri Geary, Downtown