She slowly made her way to the platform, right before the church service began. I couldn't help but notice the small gift bag she was clutching. Her gaze caught mine as she softly spoke. "Evelyn, I know you are getting ready to lead worship, but if you would give me a minute, I have a little gift for you. It's not much, but I made it special for you as you walk through this trial."
She handed me the bag. I reached in and gently pulled out a small creamy ceramic hand-held mirror. My fingers ran over it, exploring the delicate craftsmanship. As I flipped it over to the backside, I noticed a tiny hand-painted rose with John 3:16 strategically adorning the shadow of a cross.
I choked back tears as I whispered, "Thank You."
She did not know how God would use this one small gift as a catalyst to strip away a lie that had taken up residence in my heart. A lie that God desired to expose so that I could walk in the freedom of His truth.
My shoulders slumped as a flood of hot tears streamed down my cheeks. I could barely lift my head to gaze into the eyes of the stranger in the mirror. The curly locks of hair that once crowned her head were gone, erased by chemo. Her face is pale, and the light is growing dim in her eyes. Why can't I look at myself?
"God, what is wrong with me? Why is it so hard to lift my eyes and see this new me in the mirror?"
The storms of life have been challenging the past few years. But this cancer diagnosis has driven my heart into uncharted waters. Fears have tossed me about, shattering the standard processes, plans, and ideas that once comforted me.
One by one, God is using this storm to expose the false narratives written on my heart. And the one He was uncovering at the bathroom mirror rocked me.
I don't even know when I picked up the lie that how I looked had anything to do with who I was. But somewhere along the journey of my life, I had.
And now, God was about to open my heart and mind to grasp His definition of true beauty.
With tenderness and love, I sense the Father's answer. "People may look at the outer appearance, but I see beyond the shell. I look at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Your identity has never been about your curly locks of hair or a smooth complexion. It has always been about who I say you are. And you are my beautiful daughter. The one I formed before you were ever born (Jeremiah 1:5). The one I gave my life for then wooed until you surrendered to my gift of grace. You are precious to me, dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)."
His words of truth washed over me, exposing the lie I had embraced concerning my appearance.
As His love song poured over me (Zephaniah 3:17), the weight of that lie fell. Shame slipped off as I slowly lifted my head. I glanced at the lady in the mirror. And though tears blurred my eyes, my vision was clear.
I studied each wrinkle on my brow, the dark circles under my eyes, and the clean-shaven head. What I once viewed through the temporary lens of deterioration, I now saw clearer through His eternal love.
This face was the portrait of a woman who had stood in the fire with her God and watched Him turn impossible into possible. A woman who faced her fears bravely clothed in God's armor. A warrior whose faith grew stronger through life's trials because she learned the beauty in surrender.
Friend, it is so easy to get caught in the comparison trap, trying to live up to a temporary measuring stick of exterior perfection. But there is nothing more beautiful than a person who knows that actual value and worth are rooted in God's definition, not the world's.
Maybe it is time to step up to the mirror, take a good look at that person staring back, and see them through an eternal lens—someone fully seen, fully loved, and beautiful from the inside out.
*photo credit: Taylor Smith from Unsplash
Evelyn Sherwood is a trusted soul-care guide, speaker, and blogger who has
served in pastoral ministry for thirty-five years. Sherwood serves an active
and growing audience through her blog, evelynsherwood.com, and her bi-
weekly subscription devotional Hope for the Journey, encouraging her readers to grab hold of hope in the trials by helping them recall God’s work in their past. Nothing puts a smile on her face more than sharing about the
faithfulness of God with a friend over a steaming cup of cappuccino or iced
peach tea. On a summer evening, you might spot Evelyn and her husband,
Steve, driving through Indiana farmlands in a canary yellow ’47 Ford pickup
or enjoying an outdoor movie night in their backyard with their eight