“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of all?” This is not a question that any of us would admit that we ask each morning as we are getting ready in front of our mirrors, but we may think it, or we may be asking a different question. The one I often ask is “Am I really beautiful?” I am not necessarily pondering my outward appearance. I am looking for something deeper. I am longing for affirmation, acceptance, desirability or something along those lines. To be quite honest, I am afraid of mirrors, and hastily finish my work in front of one, then leave. Sounds a bit foolish, but it seems safer to me.
Confession as a concept rates with mirrors as something I tend to avoid out of fear of what I will discover or what might be revealed, since both are instrumental in personal examination. The mirror unveils physical defects; confession searches our spiritual shortcomings.
With that confession made, I want to unveil some wrong thinking that I have entertained over the years regarding the practice of confession. My thinking ran something like this, when I confess something, it usually reflects badly on my choices or character making confession uncomfortable and painful, therefore I’d rather avoid confession.
While confession does include the humbling experience of admitting that I have sinned, it is a beneficial process. In fact Scripture teaches that confession is for our good, and I am coming to see it as a gift, just as a mirror truly is a helpful tool. Mirrors point out things that need to be changed. If we have a hair out of place, we can comb it back, and secure it with hairspray. Putting make-up on without a mirror would give us inconsistent results, not to mention, that we could be fairly sure we would look like a disfigured clown if we refused to use a mirror.
Confession brings about freshness, a cleanness that restores joy, lifts our countenance, and removes guilt which keeps us from gladly and freely loving God.
A mirror represents examination through reflection. A couple times in Scripture someone asks God to examine them. One is the familiar cry of the psalmist in Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV):
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
When we allow God to investigate our hearts and do His cleansing work, we can confidently look in the mirror. This idea of looking into a mirror surfaced in a devotion I was reading. The author invited the reader to literally “stand before the bathroom mirror, take a good long look at the person looking back at you.” I did this, thinking that a myriad of sins would come to mind, and I would ask the Lord to cleanse me. Instead an amazing sense of His grace overwhelmed me, and I saw His love reflected back to me.
Here is a poem I wrote in response to that holy encounter through a looking glass:
O God, I look into the mirror,
What do I see?
Beautiful eyes looking back at me
Not a ravishing, sculpted form.
But a smallish, curvy woman
With freckled face and brownish hair;
Nothing to proclaim me all that fair.
Yet as I look into those eyes,
I am humbled to see You
Looking back at me, urging me
To really look at that face-
Those penetrating green eyes that
Tears so easily fill.
So tender, so sweet, surrendering still.
Seeing the truth that it is by You
I have been made
and You love me!
One You wouldn’t ever trade
For a thousand fairer maids.
Through these reflections on mirrors and confession, I hope we will feel freer to use both on a daily basis.
One last thought. An answer to the original question, “Who is the fairest of all?” I offer you an anonymous German hymn: “Fairest Lord Jesus”.
Let’s confess our devotion to Him-
“Fairest Lord Jesus; Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son
Thee will I cherish; Thee will I honor,
Thou my soul’s glory, joy and crown.”