And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14)
In our media-driven and performance-based culture, we are constantly bombarded with messages about who we should be and how we should live. One recent advertisement implores us to “Live young” (whatever that is supposed to mean!) while catching our imagination with what it might be like to come face-to-face with our young toddler self. In the commercial, a man is walking down a street when suddenly he notices a baby in his reflection. The miniature version of this grown man is adorable and it is easy for the viewer to be filled with wonder as the man breaks out into dance, along with others who have joined him in looking into the mirrored storefront window, dancing with their baby selves joining in step-for-step. What all this has to do with drinking bottled water I do not know, but it’s intriguing and it makes me think about what it might be like to see my younger self looking back at me in the mirror.
I was a cute baby, if I do say, although my hair has changed a few shades over the years, so the reflection looking back would not exactly be a mini me. I can’t dance to save my life, so the sight of it would be a spectacle to behold. It’s cute to think about, but what if the refection looking back was not a toddler, but was our fifteen year-old self, or us at twenty, or even thirty? What if the woman looking back in the mirror is the one we used to be before we grew in Christ? What then would you see in the image looking back at you?
I wonder if we might see brokenness and pain in her eyes, a longing for something that seems so far out of reach. Might she be a woman mourning a loss too difficult to bear, or one struggling with what it means to be a wife. We might see fear in the eyes of a young mom facing a health crisis, or insecurity in one still single longer than she thought she would be. Despair might stare back at us if addiction has stained our past, or rejection, regret, and shame. What I might see looking back at me is a woman beaten down by the years of being unknown and unloved, a woman so scarred by her past mistakes that the grip of depression has taken all signs of hope out of her tear stained eyes. Who would the woman be in your reflection?
These thoughts that fill our imaginations should fill our hearts with praise for where our God has brought us from! He truly has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption. (Colossians 1:13-14) He loves us, He redeems our past, but just as this baby appeared in the man’s reflection walking down the street, sometimes the brokenness from my past finds its way into my present reality. The woman in the mirror suddenly feels a whole lot like the woman from the past and no amount of meditating on 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” can convince my weary heart of the truth of its message.
What is a girl to do when the burdens and hurts from the past come crashing into all that she believes she is in Christ? It might be tempting to suggest that she just let it go, but she can no more just let go of the past that made her who she is today than she can let go of her reflection in the mirror. So many of us have faced this struggle to let go. So many of us are facing it now.
If you are struggling, will you dare with me one more time to believe; to bow at the foot of the cross and behold the Lamb of God Who made you new? I wish, sisters, that I could say that this act of surrender and turning of faith is all it would take to leave the past in the past. For some it is. God in His grace can do this. For others, the journey is long. For both, the message of how we should live our lives in the midst of both good times and bad is the same:
walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (v.10)
Walk in a manner worthy, regardless of who you see looking back at you in the mirror. There is something much bigger at stake. Take the hand of your Father, who has been with you every step of the way, and rest in His love. He is enough ~ even when the woman we used to be comes back for a visit. He has us in His hands. He rejoices over us, and if you can imagine it, He sings over you. Do you dare to take a hold of His mighty right hand, and maybe even dance?
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)