Mirror, mirror, on the wall
By Angie Lee
In Snow White, Snow White’s stepmother constantly checks her beauty in the mirror each and every day. She asks the mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in this land is the fairest of them all?” The mirror replies, “You are, my queen.” She goes away satisfied, smiling. But then one day, after Snow White is grown from childhood into blooming womanhood, the talking mirror replied, “You are not the most beautiful woman anymore. Snow White is.” When she hears this, the queen turns green with envy and anger and a whole violent story is started.
Why is she obsessed with looking at the mirror that much? Why couldn’t she understand that the beauty comes in all different ways? Or why couldn’t she embrace the fact that she does not have to be the fairest of them all? It may be because she has no stable sense of self. Her self-confidence is dependent on her looks. Her self-esteem is dependent on other people’s evaluation. The talking mirror can be her inner voice telling her that she is not beautiful enough, thin enough, young enough, healthy enough, strong enough, good enough, etc. The list can go on. As she is harsh on herself, her harshness spills over those who around her.
People may have their own talking mirrors inside. When we look into the mirror, maybe we are looking towards the depths of the unconscious. When you see your mirror each morning, what kind of reflection do you see? When you think of your flaws and blemishes in your life, what kind of voice do you hear?
Kristin Neff in Self-Compassion (William Morrow, 2015) says that many people believe that they need to be self-critical to motivate themselves, but in fact they just end up feeling anxious, incompetent and depressed. Dr. Neff’s research shows that far from encouraging self-indulgence, self-compassion helps us to see ourselves clearly and make needed changes because we care about ourselves. Compassion isn’t only something that we should apply to others. Just as we’d have compassion for a good friend who was going through a hard time or felt inadequate in some way, why not for ourselves?
I think self-compassion is the way we see ourselves with God’s eyes who loves us, cares for us, forgives us, and sustains us. When you feel shame, insecure, and not good enough, polish your mirror, so that you can see you as God sees you and hear God’s voice who will pick you up when you fall and reach our full potential in the time of uncertainty. Healing occurs when you can see hope that God intends in you, the gifts God gives you, and the beauty God put in you. When you look at the mirror, may you see God’s image that God created in you, your worth that Jesus purchased with his blood, and your potentiality that the Holy Spirit stored for you.
(Rev. Eunjoo "Angie" Lee is associate pastor of Bloomington Wesley UMC and a member of the Pastoral Care and Counseling Board)