Everyday I look into a mirror — once, twice, if not multiple times a day. But after last week, I will never look at my reflection the same way again.
For five days, I was part of a ministry team that deep cleaned apartments for struggling families in transition. Yolanda, a single mom of two boys, was one of the residents, and while we were there, I never saw her smile. Her countenance couldn’t mask the burdens she bore.
As we scrubbed and scraped, poured and polished, we prayed specific coverings over each of her rooms. We prayed over the family room and bedroom. For the kitchen, I prayed for the meals that would be prepared, the souls that would be fed, the conversations that would occur around the table.
But I never thought to pray over the hallway mirror.
I came the following day to fix a broken window, and I noticed she’d taken a black industrial sized trash bag we’d been using, ripped it apart, and hung it over the mirror so there was no reflection.
I couldn’t shake the visual. My mind strayed to a number of possibilities for why it was there. A religious conviction? Maybe her faith doesn’t allow mirrors. That must be it. Please may that be it.
In that moment, the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart, “Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Talk to her.” I wanted to leave, because let’s be honest, there’s no easy way to inquire about a hanging garbage bag, but instead I asked her, “Yolanda, when I cleaned yesterday, I noticed the mirror is the first thing that greets you. Did it startle you too? Is that why you covered it?”
Her head dropped with an alarming sigh. She wouldn’t look up. Finally, after an awkward pause, she replied, “No, that’s not it. I can’t do mirrors. I can’t look in them right now.”
There, Jen. She answered your question. She can’t do mirrors. Don’t push her. Wish her a good day and leave. But as I tried to convince myself that’s what she wanted, I couldn’t leave.
“Yolanda, I’m asking all the residents if there are specific requests for which I can pray. Do you have something I can pray for?”
While the other residents listed tangible needs — childcare, car, a place to live, a job — she choked out two words, “Peace and forgiveness.”
The weight of her request lay heavily on me. How many times had I uttered the same words?
“Yolanda, I don’t know your story, but I know the One who does. He loves you more than you will ever know. He is the One who heals the brokenhearted and sets each of us free from our sin and shame. He rights our wrongs because nothing any of us have done is too big for Him. He can handle it. I know this to be true. He is the only source of true and lasting peace. He will grant it because He is the mighty God of second chances, of miracles, of restoration and He desires freedom for you.”
I glanced at the garbage bag, and everything in me wanted to tear it down, to peel back any bondage it represented. I could barely continue through my tears because as I spoke each truth, they weren’t only for Yolanda; they were for me too.
Some mirrors marred by sin and shame magnify the lie that our past dictates our future. Other mirrors compare us to others, each distortion carefully curated by the deceiver. We struggle to know what’s truth because the lies seem so believable.
So this week I’m starting my day with something new. I’m looking into my mirror and confidently declaring truth: “I am an image bearer of Christ. I know the truth, and it has set me free.”
Won’t you join me each morning this week? When we remove the garbage bag from our own mirror, here’s what that sparkling clean image declares about who we are in Christ:
I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
I have been redeemed and forgiven. (Colossians 1:14)
I am a saint. (Ephesians 1:1)
I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39)
I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14)
I am God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)
This list is only a start. You are loved, accepted, secure, significant, and free in Christ.
What does your mirror tell you right now?
You are loved, accepted, secure, significant, and free in Christ. -Jen Schmidt (@beautyandbedlam): Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing with us and for doing such practical and prayerful work in your community.
I love how different versions of the bible have different ways of saying the same thing. Recently, I’ve also been taken by Ephesians 2:10, but I read ‘We are God’s work of art’ and I love that translation. I try to remember it throughout my day, when looking in a mirror or dealing with something tough. It is hard to always see this truth about me, but being God’s workmanship/work of art and looking for it in other people helps me. Thank you.
Gillian – thank you for sharing that translation . What a fresh reminder to see ourselves as His absolute masterpiece – no mistakes.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Christ died and paid the price so that we could walk in freedom from our sin. But, how many times do we/I allow myself to remain shackled to my shame and guilt? God doesn’t love deserving people. There simply aren’t any. He only loves sinners. He loves them SO much that He gave the most precious thing in His life to set us free…He gave His Son. Pausing to really take in what that means today. This is unconditional love. God sees us through the blood of Christ and, to Him, our image is pure, unflawed, perfect. What a beautiful thing you did for that woman. Thanks for taking the hard road that leads to sharing Christ’s love with others. Beautiful!
Yes!!! We are created to love as absolute free daughters but yet we continue to carry weight we were never meant to.
Thank you for sharing, Bev.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
I Am A DAUGHTER OF THE KING. I AM BEAUTIFUL. It does not matter what the World and it ways think of Me. All that Matters is what God thinks of Me. Same goes for YOU. YOU CAN NEVER STOP GOD LOVING YOU. Go on Youtube type in the words Father’s Love Letter. It will tell you how much you are LOVED IN GODS EYES. IT WILL TELL YOU GODS TRUE MIRROR IMAGE OF YOU NOT THE WORLDS. That they tell you. That you have to look this way. Go on this diet. To look this way pay this amount of money for botock. Or this amounts of money to have your teeth whitened. I belive that is wrong in Gods eyes and waist of Gods good money. Especially when you stop and think about it in this way. God see you as already BEAUTIFUL. YOU DON’T NEED TO CHANGE A THING IN HIS EYES. HE MADE YOU JUST THE BEAUTIFUL PERSON YOU ARE. There are people in the world ill and they have all the money in the world and they give it up to make themselves well. It not going to make them well. So would God not want you spending his money he has given you on something you don’t need to spend it on. When he God see you as a BEAUTIFUL CHILD OF HIS ALL READY. You can instead put it into God work were he willing bless you for doing so. Like helping People less well of in countries where they have very little. Like no food or clean water. Or to help Christian get the word of God into Countries where People in world don’t here God word. Not spend it foolishly. On things that you don’t need to spend it on. Look at yourself in Mirror. See what God is saying to you. Through his Holy Spirit. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. THANK YOU FOR ANOTHER EXCELLENT READING TODAY. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxxx
Yes, Dawn!! Preach these reminders to our heart over and over. ❤️
Dawn Ferguson- Little says
Thank you Jen for replying to what I said. I love your writtings incourage. You are such a wonderful writter for God. My God continue to you to write for him to bless others to grow through you. Through you and what you write and also using his word. God bless. God bless you incourage. My Love and prayers are with you all for this fanatic work you all do. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Michele Morin says
Powerful statements, Jen, that reflect back to me the love of God and his deep cleaning forgiveness that give me every reason to live in hope!
Thank you, Michelle. When I wrote it, I didn’t know it was going up on valentines day but it’s all about His love. ❤️
Your post moved me too tears. I’m wondering if you know, did Yolanda came to accept Jesus? I pray that she did and can see herself as His Beloved Daughter.
During the time, I spent with her, she did not but praying those seeds will continue to be watered.
Beth Williams says
Thanks for sharing this story again. Bless you for following God’s lead & talking to that woman. Everyone needs to hear the truth that we are unconditionally loved. So much so that God gave His ONLY son to die a horrible death to save us from our sins. How often & quickly do we forget that? Society tells us we have to look a certain way & if not then we don’t measure up. The opposite is true in God’s economy. He loves us no matter what our past says about us. More people, especially women, need to hear about the love & caring of God. They need to be told that no matter their circumstances they are wanted & loved .
Thank you, Jen… I love this post! Needed to read it today!
Kimberly Gazzo says
I recently sold my home of 18 years (the death of my husband made it no longer affordable) and moved across country. The mirror in my new bathroom shows my body down to my hips, while the mirror in my old house only reflected to mid-chest. With all other implications, this more complete view of my overweight body has significantly changed the way I feel about my weight. I now feel both encouraged to change my eating habits, but also a deeper connection to my path of aging. I’m frightened and angry and sad. I’m also more committed to my profoundly increasing faith and desire to serve God. I write loving notes to myself and tape them here. My mirror reflects my body AND my heart and reminds me that God sees me and loves me in every season of my life.
Beautifully written. Thank you so much. So meaningful and true.
This devotional is what I needed to read today. Thank you.