By Elana B
These “mirror mirror” words precede the famous line from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: “Who’s the fairest of them all?” Most of us would not answer, “It’s me!” Rather, too many of us see ourselves through a looking glass darkly, critically—we notice every spot, every flaw, every blemish as larger than life. The voice in our mirror doesn’t tell us how great looking we are; in fact, our mirror’s voice sounds does just the opposite.
Just when do we begin seeing ourselves with such a skewed perspective? How did those gremlins of doom, gloom, and “you aren’t winning any awards today—who are you kidding” find their way into our vision of ourselves? And more important, why do we believe and accept this lesser, diminished image? Could it be the lighting? The mirror’s reflective perspective? Or both?
Lighting can be flattering or it can be harsh–revealing more than we want to see. Candlelight is flattering, and we all look lovelier in it. However, most of us look pale and slightly green under fluorescent lights. Although I’m grateful to Thomas A. Edison for inventing the light bulb, sometimes I want to press the dimmer switch to obscure my flaws, thinking it would have been nicer to live in the days when candlelight reigned.
Mirrors can reflect an accurate image or they can widen, narrow, warp, or obscure reality. I avoid some mirrors because they aren’t flattering and don’t reflect the image I like (self-image is something I struggle with, and I know I am not alone in that struggle). I wish I could invent a mirror with perfect lighting and a PhotoShop “fix” feature. But that isn’t reality and we are left to deal with ourselves as we are.
It seems to me that we have two main choices:
- We can stay out of the light, hiding away because we don’t want our imperfections to be on display. Choosing this option produces an increasingly diminishing view of ourselves and robs us of what our Savior asks of us—to find ourselves by losing ourselves in serving others.
- We can step into the light and find joy in serving and associating with good people, not focusing on what isn’t right with us. As we let our light shine, our countenance will reflect happiness no matter how the world (or a mirror) may see us. After all, true beauty isn’t based on “looks” or anyone’s standard of what is attractive or acceptable for public consumption.
Sooner or later, we must accept and relish the fact that we have value and worth and that each of us is a child of God, patterned after him and his Son, Jesus Christ. Once we realize who we really are, we will dismiss discouragement and a self-critical attitude, replacing it with confidence. We can accept the love God feels for us and the love Jesus Christ offers us, remembering that we have been created in their image.
Further, we can love ourselves by being kind, patient, and forgiving, and we can do the same for everyone because being a Christian isn’t about outward beauty or meeting the world’s standards. It is, instead, about recognizing that we are all Heavenly Father’s children and merit his love and the love of his Son Jesus Christ.
An old tradition declares that breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck. However, breaking a “mirror of deception” may be the best thing we can do. We can then make our true mirror the gospel as taught in the scriptures. If we study, ponder, and follow true gospel principles, we will be beautiful and live beautiful lives—not to attract attention to ourselves but to heaven. We ourselves thus become mirrors that enable others to see Jesus Christ through us.