You tug at the corner of your eyes, smushing them upward then pulling them down. “Who is that?” You wonder to yourself as you gaze into the mirror.
Maybe it's the dark circles betraying an illness that caught you by surprise. Maybe it's the fine lines, telling the story of stress and toil. Maybe it's the weary look in your eyes begging for sleep.
Before you can answer, you snap your head and look away, unwilling to gaze any longer.
Have you ever been there?
Recently I had one of my own mirror moments. And as much as I've tried to forget it, I can't.
Such glimpses force us to confront our true selves. To look deeply in the mirror and see who's coming out in seasons of tiredness, sickness, or stress.
If I'm honest, I didn't like who I saw. She was tired, worn ragged from trying to keep up. She was frustrated and short-fused. Her graciousness and playfulness gone. As I washed the makeup from my face, I could no longer hide and pretend everything was okay. Life's stress was pressing out the more unsightly sides of me.
The reflection I saw that night is etched into memory and comes back to my mind’s eye almost daily. It's taken me about two weeks, but now I'm finally ready to face the woman in the mirror.
Fear kept me away. But as I gaze at myself once again, I see something beyond the frustration and shame.
What’s there? Grace.
Think about all the stories of Jesus of looking people squarely in the face—the woman at the well, Martha in her busyness, or even Peter after the resurrection.
Never once did Jesus overlook their sin or struggle. In fact, he faced it, even named it. But then came grace.
If you and I want to know the grace the men and women who met Jesus found, then we must follow their example—looking deeply at our struggles, sin, or shortcomings and then looking into the face of grace.
The more I look myself squarely in the mirror, the more I answer hard questions and face the things I don't like or understand about life, the more I am turned toward God’s transforming grace.
Fear may tell us to cover our flaws, ignore our faults, or stuff our pain. But grace invites us to bring these out into the open and experience true change—the kind that comes from God's work within us and not from anything we put on ourselves.
So if you find yourself in a season of struggle, avoiding the woman in the mirror, may I challenge you to take another look? Because there you'll find his beautiful grace.