Archive for May, 2012

It was basic developmental theory that first introduced me to the significance of the mirror. As a college senior, I first read about Jaques Lacan, who first identified the mirror stage of development. He observed that as an infant develops her awareness of the outside world, she begins to identify with the images around her, eventually discovering that she is also human and therefore capable of doing the things she has witnessed. In other words, she gained self-awareness through observing and identifying with other people. Ever since I learned this in college, I have firmly believed we are all mirrors for one another.

Later in my adult life, a friend taught me a great spiritual truth: If something about someone else bothers me, that is because I’m bothered by the same trait in myself. Now, this should have been easy to swallow since I already had such a fondness for Lacan’s mirror theory. But even now, over ten years later, I still struggle to be honest about the reflections I see. It would be so much easier to just write you off as annoying or stupid or (fill in the blank). But instead I am now faced with the fact that if you’re annoying me, then I’m probably quite annoying to someone else as well.

When I allow myself to become aware of the reflective quality of my relationships, then I have a choice. I can constantly try to alter the mirror so that I can become comfortable with the image I’m seeing. Or, I can use the opportunity to see if anything in my own life is flawed. Think about it. When I look into a glass mirror, I’m checking to see if I look presentable enough to go out the front door and face the world. Any hairs out of place? Anything stuck in my teeth? I use the tools at my disposal to correct any blemishes, and then I can start my day with some measure of confidence.

And so when I look into a human mirror, I should logically do the same thing. When I look at you, what do I see? Am I overcome by love and appreciation for the many talents and gifts that you have to share with the world? Or do I sneer and snicker in disgust at the wide array of bad habits and character defects you possess? More often than I want to admit, the answer is the latter. And to follow suit, more often than I even know it, as soon as I see the flaw I’m trying to figure out how to fix you, how to counsel you, how to manipulate and manage you until you just start acting right, dang it!

It’s time for us all to stop polishing the mirror and start paying attention to what we see. If I could look at you and simply see beauty and grace, then I wouldn’t be going around trying to fix all of your quirks. And if all I can see is your quirks, well…I’ve probably got more than a few of my own issues to work through.

If we are to truly adopt the Christian way of life, we must heed the words of our model for good behavior. After all, in the 7th chapter of Matthew Christ himself said it best:

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

Think I’m going to go see about my own log now. How about you?


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