Standing in front of the mirror at age 18, I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw. I mentally nitpicked every flaw I could find. I still haven’t figured out the underlying reason that my self-esteem sank so low, but I felt that way for a very long time. I was shy and self-conscious. Satan knew that just as well as I did. He used it over and over again to draw me subtly away from following the path I knew was right. He also used it to steal precious moments of joy and turn them into scenes of anxiety and hurt.
I’d like to think that a fictional character has more confidence than me, but when Rosemary LeVeux, the actress, arrives on scene in Episode 9 of Season 1 of When Calls the Heart, I see myself mirrored in Elizabeth’s reaction to this enigma that has shattered her dream world. Not only does this flamboyant woman in red become the center of the town’s affections, she seems to have nudged Elizabeth right out of Jack’s affections, too. As a result, Elizabeth curls into her shell, locking Jack out by slamming her window shut, clamming up in the mercantile when Rosemary dominates the conversation, and judging everything about herself (from her purchases of string to her high-necked blouse) as boring and unattractive. In a heart-to-heart chat with Abigail, Elizabeth admits that she feels completely inadequate next to the accomplished Rosemary.
Have you ever done that? Placed yourself next to someone else in front of an imaginary mirror and felt like you just aren’t enough? Not smart enough, or brave enough, or confident enough? I did that over and over and over. I fell into such a pattern of needing to be “enough” that I continued a relationship with a boyfriend far longer than God desired and even contemplated marrying that man. That would have been disastrous! You see, in just one statement, at one blink in our relationship, he played on my insecurities by commenting on his belief that I wasn’t physically attractive enough and that I should probably get some “work” done. I know, I should have slapped him and run the other direction, but I didn’t. I even considered getting that “work” done just to keep him. Thankfully, two very wise friends helped me come to my senses.
Fast forward a few months. I sat in a dimly-lit basement on a church retreat, surrounded by members of my college group. Most of my peers were broken off in small groups, chatting and laughing together. All of a sudden, someone suggested a game of telephone charades. Imagine your worst nightmare related to public-speaking and you are now in my shoes. This game would require me to get up in front of a large group of my peers and make a complete idiot of myself, intentionally!
“I can’t do that,” I whispered under my breath.
“Why not?” came a voice from beside me. This young man I barely knew seemed to see right through me.
“I just can’t.”
“Remember, you are a child of God.”
I will never forget those words. He uttered them so complacently, so comfortably. What did he really mean? What does being God’s kid have anything to do with a game of charades?
Here is what I have learned since my wise friend spoke those precious words to me: As a child of God, I am a princess. I only need be concerned with my Father’s opinion. He doesn’t care if I play a foolish game and laugh riotously with my friends. In fact, he probably laughs right along with us. He does care if I unite myself with something that is outside of His will, that is in complete contradiction to His Word. The only comparison that matters is between me and my God. In holding back from moments where God calls me to be silly, or where he urges me to step out of my circle of comfort, I gain nothing. Instead, when I recline in the knowledge that I am the Almighty’s precious daughter and I let His love for me shine through, I can imagine my God whispering in my ear, “That suits you. But then again, just about everything suits you.” And I experience inexplicable joy and a deep strength that is not my own.
One of my favorite poems illuminates how internalizing that Father-daughter relationship can impact our world. It comes from Marianne Williamson’s book “A Return to Love,” and is titled “Our Deepest Fear.” I’ll let you investigate the entire poem yourself, but the lines I find particularly encouraging state:
It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
As Elizabeth stood before the mirror in her room above Abigail’s cafe and adjusted her collar, was she wincing in comparison to Rosemary and her larger-than-life personality? Was she, instead, resolving to let her inner light shine?
Let me give you just a glimpse of what I saw after I took those words to heart, the ones about being a child of God. I removed myself from the room and I prayed. I rolled those words over and over again in my head until I felt them begin to nudge out the fear, self-doubt, and timidity. Returning to the game, I chose to let my inner light (or inner child, as the case may be) shine. I played charades. I laughed until my eyes watered and my sides hurt. Then I let my gaze travel over the room. My entire being grew warm, as though wrapped in an enveloping and all-consuming embrace. From somewhere deep inside my soul, I realized that I had just witnessed a snapshot of what eternity with my Heavenly Father would be, surrounded by joy.
Bury those words “child of God” within your heart. Post it with a sticky-note on your bathroom mirror so that, instead of gazing at your image every morning and finding it lacking, you begin to gaze at the image God sees in you: a child, dearly beloved and adopted into the family of the Most High. Then, when Satan whispers into your ear, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, what do you see?”, he will discover that he no longer has power over you.