The other day my 13-year-old daughter bought a full-length mirror for her room. She set it up in her closet and we all went in to admire it.
Then I screamed, "Is that what I look like?"
We called brother in for a second opinion. "Yikes," he said, but he looked bad, too. Even my skinny-minny daughter looked, uh, not. And the mirror didn't stop its torment with our girth. Our faces also looked off, wobbly and elongated. The distortion was mild, yet that "mild" was all it took to make us look flat-out weird.
When I was my daughter's age, I didn't have a distorted mirror in my closet, but I had a large one in my mind. Unfortunately, the accuracy of the mirrors in one's mind cannot be verified or unverified by a brother (or anyone else for that matter), so the distorted view of yourself sticks because there's no one standing next to you saying, "No way, man, that's not at all how you look, that's not how you are, that reflection is whacked."
We look into such mirrors every time we look for approval, fish for a compliment, or get discouraged when someone doesn't respond to us like we wish they would. Whether or not they mean it, we interpret such things as rejection and we continue gazing into these mirrors to find the answers to the old questions, "Am I OK?" "Am I good enough?" "Am I beautiful?" When we achieve goals that get overlooked, when we clean rooms that go unnoticed, when we write online columns no one reads, it's easy to look into the "mirrors" of other people's opinions (or lack thereof) and say, "I'm worthless, I don't matter, I have no beauty anyone is interested in." God's view of us as His precious beloved gets obscured when we're, as the song goes, "lookin' for love in all the wrong places."
This is why I'm not going to remove that nutty mirror from my daughter's closet. For one, she paid five bucks for it and wants to keep it. For another, that imperfect mirror is a perfect reminder that no earthly mirror accurately reflects her beauty. No boyfriend's mirror. No magazine's mirror. No best friend's mirror. No sister's mirror. No cheerleading team's mirror. Not even, as much as we love them, a parent or husband's mirror. Human mirrors are cracked by sin and jealousy and pettiness, all versions of Snow White's wicked stepmother's, demanding it tell us we are the fairest of them all, leaving no room for another's beauty.
A few years ago, one of my daughters walked into the kitchen, spun around in her sparkly pink princess dress, folded her hands in prayer and said in complete rapture, "Thank you, God, for making me so beautiful!"
I suspect all three of my girls will spend a lifetime learning to internalize that phrase, but, hey, aren't we all?