Looking in the mirror is scary.
At least it’s been that way for a long time. It’s something very few people know about me. But as a person that’s struggled with food issues and body image, looking in the mirror can be a terrifying experience.
I know that I’ll often be disappointed by what I see. I’ll wish some things were different. And I hate facing my deficiencies so blatantly. Even though I know it’s a distorted view of myself, that gaze into the mirror has led me to make some very self-destructive choices.
Facing the darkness is always scary.
The other day I was part of a discussion among some preachers and ministers. Many of these people have spent their entire adult lives giving their talents and efforts to the church. During the discussion one guy expressed his concern about how critical Christians seem to be of church. He felt too many Christians were just being contrary and it did nothing but cause division and frustration.
Now I’m part of a generation that is very critical of organized religion. You can probably see some of those concerns being expressed here from time to time. And I understand that can come across as annoying or arrogant, especially to older members who have been so integral in building the church up. We can be hyper-critical and cynical, no doubt.
Certainly we can’t ignore these realities. Because if we turn a blind eye, the church will become more irrelevant in our society. They must be faced head on and dealt with in faith.
Sure, facing the darkness is scary. But not facing the darkness may be scarier.
We’d all rather ignore the darkness. But our readings this week are full of people facing their failings, weaknesses and dark portions of their souls. And at the end we don’t find sadness; we find hope.
That’s because the reason we look in the mirror is not just to examine ourselves, but to take a longer gaze into the greatness of the one who overcomes the darkness. It is not we who are greater, but he. He is love and mercy and grace and peace.
And there is no darkness that can overcome that.
If we never face the darkness in our lives, we never experience the joy in seeing the darkness defeated. It is only when we look deeply at our own failings that we can allow the Spirit to grow us and change us.
So today I urge you to do the very thing that generates the most fear within me. Take a long look in the mirror. Face the darkness you may find even in your own heart. And let the love of God wash over you as you find his light casting out the darkness.
“What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord…
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.”