Have you ever had a moment of looking in the mirror and wondering who that person is looking back at you? I think we all have times when the person we see in our mind is not necessarily the physical person that everyone else sees. For me, I want to have the face that shows love and kindness, and if I’m honest, I want a face that shows youthfulness! But the reality is my face shows the years of living, and they weren’t always great years. I hope that my eyes at least show what God has done with those years. I hope my eyes show the love of Jesus me who transformed my inner being.
I think to some extent we all fight the aging process. We hang onto images of our younger life and the freedom we think we had in our 20s. We look at pictures of ourselves in our 20s and 30s and wonder where that person went. Our faces begin to show the stress of life. The twinkle in our eye now comes with little lines. There is a new wrinkle in our forehead from nights of prayer and concern for those closest to us. Maybe we look at pictures of ourselves and wonder who that person is because they too seem like a stranger to us.
Did you know that you are wonderfully marvelously made? We are made in the image of a loving God. And yet we still find ourselves wanting to change the outer appearance we project for others. We have the medical advances today to change anything about ones outer appearance, from head to toe. Maybe it’s that facelift that we hope will restore what is now gone. Maybe it is sculpting our body through exercise, and surgery, to mask our inner weakness. Yes, there’s surgery to change the outer appearance of our body, to match what the mind is telling us about who we feel we are inside. I can’t help but think of Madonna and the ridicule she received after her attempt to stay young backfired.
When I see that stranger staring back at me from the mirror, I often pause and wonder if I should do something to change my face? I’m too frightened to go under the knife so instead, I change my hair color and I look for a new face cream and make up that might help me feel better about the person you see. Because it really is all about the person you see- it’s that first impression that says I’m young, I’m old, I’m hip, I’m boring, I’m male/female, or I’m doing my best today. Truth is, the conclusions we draw based on an image says little about our character, our spiritual wellbeing, or how kind or unkind we are. It’s just a layer to break through to get to the heart of who we are as spiritual beings.
What is the image I want to project? We all want to be seen for who we believe we are. We want to be comfortable in our own skin. And for some, that may mean taking the surgical risk to project an image. For others, like myself, it means coming to terms with all those wrinkles I carry with me every day and just can’t seem to get rid of! Still others will take the risk to change the outside in the hope other will see what they feel inside. Both should be ok, as long as we make the effort to look beyond the outer physical creation and see God’s spiritual creation that will last well after our bodies disintegrate to dust.
I want to know the heart of the person, not just the the physical image I see. I want to go back to the heart of who I am, and who you are. Are you willing to do something radical with your inner life that demonstrates to the world the true love God has for you? Are you willing to say I am who I am – – I am a child of God first. I am wonderfully and marvelously made in his image. Are you willing to change the inside, the heart and the soul of our being before worrying about changing the outside?
Go ahead, make the changes to your appearance that you feel you need to make. Or let the outside just be the outside shell of who we really are, if who we really are reflects the love of Jesus. Reflecting, the love of Jesus, also means reflecting that love towards others, who are changing their outside appearance, for whatever reason. It means loving them in the way that Jesus loved those that were ridiculed and shunned for their appearance. Let us be like that toward each other. It means having conversations that are kind. It means looking beyond the physical being in front of you, and seeing the spiritual being who God loves just as much as he loves you.
So, when I look in the mirror again today, I probably will still wonder who that older woman is looking back at me. And then I will remember God made me. God loves me. And God wants me to love others in a way that I could only do because he loved me first. God isn’t done with me and as long as you are breathing, he isn’t finished with you either. Let him transform you from the inside out and show that face to the world. Let that define who you are. The rest probably won’t matter as much if you focus on loving God, letting God love you, and then loving others in a profoundly new way.