read more
Mirror, Mirror…

‘Reality television’ is one of the great oxymoron’s of the 21st Century along with ‘virtual reality’ and ‘genuine imitation’ and a successful marketing tool which promises the consumer a ‘true lie’.  Funny, we say we want the Truth but in actuality (reality) what we are asking for is a lie that can fool us into believing that the lie is true.  As long as it ‘feels’ like the truth, we are happy children because we got what we asked for.  But still, it is not the Truth.

If we play to the opinions of others, our lives will be more like ‘reality TV’ than real life because   ‘reality TV’ plays to audience approval where the characters, theme and plot are carefully designed as to what the audience wants to hear, see and feel.  The TV producers look to us and create mirror images of what we have revealed we want in their productions.  So what they present to us is what we have projected by our wants and desires. This is what keeps the ratings up.  But these ‘shows’ are the furthest thing from reality. 

What is reality?  Does God exist?  Who are we with God?  Does He love us?  Does He hear us?  These are confusing times and many more people are asking these questions than ever before.

And as we try to determine who we are and our place in the universe the inevitable question arises.  ‘Who am I?’  Some are so confused and burdened by the struggle they impose on themselves and others that they question, ‘Do I even exist?’  We usually turn to others for validation; and our mirrors for reassurance that we are ‘worth’ existing at all.  But how good (accurate) are the mirrors before us? 

First, what happens when you look in a mirror? In the daytime, light reflects off your body in all directions. That's why you can see yourself and other people can see you. Your skin and the clothes you're wearing reflect light in a diffuse way: light rays bounce off randomly, haphazardly, in no particular direction. Stand in front of a mirror and some of this light from your body will stream in straight lines toward it. 

Notice that it’s not all the light but just ‘some’ of it that reaches the mirror.  What would happen if all the light streaming from us reached the mirror?  Would we look the same?  Better?  Perhaps like living angels full of light?

How does the mirror reflect light? The silver atoms behind the glass absorb the photons of incoming light energy and become excited. But that makes them unstable, so they try to become stable again by getting rid of the extra energy—and they do that by giving off some more photons.  So the photons given off by the silver atoms are not quite the ‘same’ as those lost through the instability of the silver atoms behind the glass.  And so the mirror is unreliable to some degree depending on its own qualities.

Science tells us that when we look in a mirror it is not an image of how we truly look and what others see; so that we will never see ourselves the way others do.  We can sort of feel our face, can't we because the nerves in our face have feeling so we feel its shape and that tells us what we look like.  Plus we can feel our face with our hands.  That's what blind people do. 

But are we really sure that the image in the mirror matches the way our face feels to us, or the way our face feels to our hands?  There are people who actually perceive a distorted image of themselves all the time, no matter what they are looking at themselves in. The consequences can be quite dangerous; an anorexic woman would see herself as being fat, although in reality she's very thin. A person with a body image disorder has negative thoughts about his/her appearance. And a good mirror or a photo or a wax figure won't help them change the way they see themselves...

In the case of other people:  why do we look for the meaning of life and proof of God (and our own existence) by turning to others for validation or answers?  It’s because we don’t know who we really are and so we don’t trust ourselves.  And so we tend to look through the view-master of others placing our hope and value on what they see - in the same way that we give so much power to what our mirrors seem to reveal about us.  But in both cases the object of reflection (us) is only a replica of who we are - a grainy and untrustworthy image at best.

And when we feel small and invisible in life, we don’t want to look into the mirror (we create in others) and see ourselves as ‘flawed’ or even ‘nothing’ through their eyes.  We wonder, ‘What does he (she) see - anything at all?’  Our feelings of loneliness and smallness have become a self-fulfilling prophecy where we separate from who we really are to exist solely through the eyes of whoever (or whatever) we have chosen as our mirror.  Does the mirror approve?  Was that a glint of disapproval?  How do I become a reflection of their approval - what do I need to change?  The universe has become a very dark and insular place with many unknowns.  In separating ourselves from who we really are we become racked with fears and insecurities teetering on the edge of self-alienation.

Relying on others as mirrors will not give us the truth we seek about ourselves.  Because attitudes and opinions blur what is truly before us.  By that we mean judgment.  So why would we rely on others to determine our value?  Especially, when opinions and judgments are always changing with regard to an endless number of factors and will vary from person to person and over time.  We are blasted by the diverse opinions and perspectives of others experiencing their own highs and lows until all are spinning on an endless carousel ride regulated by others.  How do we get off?

What keeps us on this dizzying ride is our decision to live by pleasing others – loved ones, peers and neighbours, and even strangers.  This is what entraps us.  This dependency binds us to the opinions of others and these ties result in knots.  Now we are not acting freely, not thinking freely and not living freely.  But ironically we are often the ones who have chosen this form of slavery freely; so every minute we have the choice to continue or to cut the cord.

We have been told, The Truth will set you free; and yet where do we find Truth when we are ruled by the words, opinions and actions of others?  The Truth can always be found in the reality of a situation – if we are willing to look at it at all costs.  We always have a choice.  The Truth is not always easy but it always points the way to freedom from bondage.  Do we want it badly enough – no matter what the outcome?  Do we even want it at all?

It begins with knowing our true value.  Until now many of us have placed our value in the hands of those whom we seek to win over by our performance.  They become our bankers so to speak and we know what that means.  Financiers are always talking about ‘performance’ in the markets.  A good ‘performance’ nets a high yield.  The money they make contributes to the wealth of financiers and their institutions.  But remember, we have to give something up (money) in order for them to build their financial empires.

We may think that by entrusting the bank with our many deposits that we will obtain a giant interest as a return on our investment (and our trust); but we know that in reality this is only a pipe dream.  Yet, we continue to hope and to make deposits at very low interest rates.  We settle because that’s as good as it gets, right?  Smoke and mirrors. 

Likewise, we can’t expect giant interest from those we seek as our repositories of self-esteem.  We may try to invest and trust others to yield us self-worth by their interest; but remember this:  interest from the banks (and other people) must remain low.  The depositor must be kept small and dependent in order for the bank (other people) to achieve greater value themselves.  The loans officer does not give anything away:  self-esteem is an uninsured loan in the securities (insecurity’s) game.

So very different is the parable of the three servants who were given a chance to increase the money their master places in their hands.  Money, interest and profit are used in the parable because the Lord knows ‘money talks’ and that the people would listen to this teaching.  Here the bank (master) gives all three a chance to increase the original investment.  He gives them a chance to live up to their potential and his belief in them.  It is for this reason he gives them differing amounts according to their abilities. 

The first two were rewarded for doubling the initial investments of two and five talents.  But the third servant who had received only one talent buried it in the ground.  He told his master he was afraid of failing him; but the master knew it was laziness. To say the least, the master was not impressed and told the third servant off. 

The third servant did not use his potential to increase what he had been given.  We all have gifts and talents that make us unique and the reason for these gifts is to profit not only ourselves but others.  Using them is thanking the One who gives them while at the same time making Him visible to those we share (serve) them with.  The Book tells us not to expect any rewards (interest) for what we do.  The reward will be given in Heaven; but we are not to do it for the final reward either.

We are to be the opposite of banks by giving freely - to benefit others before ourselves.  We are not used to investing in others first; which is why when witnessed it appears out of this world (heavenly).  This is what makes God noticeable.

There is a beautiful passage in the Book that reveals to us the great value God has invested in us. 

Ye are the salt of the earth:  but if the salt has lost its flavour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid; neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Do we see ourselves as one of His many lights in the world enflamed by the knowledge that He created us to be His living messages of love for one another?  In recognizing the wonder of this reality - that we are His images of light and love for others; we will never again judge others or allow ourselves to be viewed by the parallax (unreliable) view of others.  We will know our true value comes from God’s Spirit in us.

We must believe in the light within us as given by the Spirit and reveal it to others for their benefit and the glory of God.  And we must not let anyone rob us of the light that we were meant to be to illuminate the darkness around us. We must forget the bushels that surround us waiting to snuff out our true Light.  We must reject (not reflect) the distortions of all mirrors that falsify our true beauty and attempt to destroy the touch of the Divine within us. 

We know that a mirror will never define who we are; nor will a mirror ever be able to reveal what we could be.  However, we could do this for one another by the faith we have in one another to grow and learn and do better.  We could become true mirrors for others by reflecting our confidence in them by recognizing their true value.  This will end instability and bring hope and peace to all hearts.  Even people in the ‘business’ of mirrors like beauty pageant entrants when asked to state their dream for the world give ‘world peace’ top priority.

And what mother, father or even government official would argue against ‘world peace’ as a top priority although reasons and agendas might differ.  Building security and stability is a necessary step in moving forward to manifest hopes and dreams into reality. 

How do we begin to build confidence and belief in any individual?  Although necessary, it is not enough for us to start thinking differently by breaking the chains of competition and the ensuing self-centredness that leads to negativity and judgment towards others.  We must become honest and humble role models for one another beginning by parents becoming better role models for their children.

We cannot simply ‘tell’ our children that they have value and that there is no limit to what they can achieve.  We cannot simply ‘say’ wise things as parrots (parents?) do about ‘working together’ when they themselves compete with others.  We can’t just enflame others to believe that there are no limits to what we can achieve or encourage them by words only that they are capable of breaking the self-imposed boundaries of human achievement without changing our own behaviours with a new vision of who we all are.  We must live to our potential as Jesus did and like Him become an example of what God the Father intended us to be.

Very young children are mirror images of God and reminders to us of what is possible with God.  We limit our potential but God puts no limitations on us when we seek Him as our Counselor.  Now when we look in the mirror of His Love, we can begin to see the divinity and the radiance of His Love within us.  Now we can begin to envision and believe that we were all created for accomplishment.  We will begin prophesying our own bright futures when we realize, ‘O my God!  God must really love me.  He created me in His Image!  He believes in me.  And now I believe in me too!’

Who or what can stop us when God is with us?  He will help us achieve our heart’s desire so long as it does not defame or lessen anyone else.  What is good for us must be good for all.  Therefore any achievement we may have is the result of God’s belief and love for each one of us for the benefit of all and for His Glory.  When we achieve to the degree we were meant to, others will know it is not from us but God Himself Who achieves through us.  We can never forget where our power comes from.  It is not anything we can manufacture on our own.

And we must never judge others.  Judgment always diminishes those we ‘size up’. 

Once upon a time, there were three beauty pageant contestants who were each asked a question.  The first was asked, ‘How would you change the world if you were to play God for a day?’  She answered, ‘Actions speak louder than words. I would act to uplift the thoughts and sentiments of man-kind; and the change will follow automatically.’

The second contestant was asked, ‘Who is your role model?’  She said, ‘My role model is me, because for me, every day is an endeavor to do better than yesterday.’ 

The third one was asked, ‘What is the essence of being a woman?’  She replied, ‘Just being a woman is God’s gift that we must all appreciate.  The origin of a child is a mother and a woman.  She shows a man what sharing, caring, and loving is all about.  That is the essence of a woman.’

These women saw something more than their own beauty.  They saw something beautiful beyond their own mirrors.  This is what we must all do for ourselves and for one another. Let us all become mirrors of the divine potential within one another.

The Spirit






All content copyright © Mission of the Shroud | "Open Eyes" photo used by permission © Mission of the Shroud.