At times God, through the Holy Spirit, has held up a mirror and shown me faults I’ve had as a Christian. During these Holy Spirit “mirror moments,” I’ve had to face up to and clean dirty little corners in my character that needed a good scrub. Here’s how one Holy Spirit mirror moment changed my life.
I’ll open this first Exploring Faith post by stating what I’m not. Although I occasionally speak the message at a non-denominational church I attend, I’m not a trained, ordained preacher of any description. I’m an ordinary woman and a writer who is seeking a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. After my mother died two months ago, I realized how tremendously I rely on my faith for strength, comfort and guidance. That realization prompted me to open a new category of posts I call Exploring Faith. These will be occasional posts sprinkled in among posts that fall into my other blog post categories: Nature, Travel, Outdoor Adventure, History and Culture, Home and Reflection, Love Your Planet, and The Writing Life. So, here goes. First up, I’ll tell you about how a Holy Spirit mirror moment changed my life.
Love should resound within me every step I take
As a Christian, I believe that love – like a heartbeat – should resound within me every step I take during every hour of every day of my life. I also believe that, when I accepted Jesus as my savior, my heart was changed and my eyes were opened to a new way of life. I became a new creation; the old was gone, the new had come.1 I became a child of God and am so closely linked with other Christians in the body of believers, it’s as though a single heart beats within us, the heart of Jesus. Since Jesus commanded us to love one another, believers and non-believers, that’s the command that should guide my life.2
Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Yet, like the early Christians to whom the apostle John wrote his letter 1 John, I often need to be reminded of Jesus’ command to love one another. Why? Because I’m human. Because I make mistakes. Because Satan, like a prowling tiger ever watchful for an opening to attack, leads me into sin. Because, unfortunately, love doesn’t resound within me every step I take during every hour of every day of my life.
It’s hard to face up to shortcomings
It’s hard to face up to shortcomings, isn’t it? It’s easy to blame others when things don’t turn out the way we want them to – in work, in sports, in relationships, in church. Are we jealous of someone else’s looks or talents? Do we envy someone else’s financial situation or family life? Before we know it, we might be thinking hard, angry thoughts that are like knives aimed at someone else’s heart.
But the apostle John told us, “Don’t do it! You left that behind when you accepted Jesus as your savior. You passed from death to life. You’re living in light now. That hatred is the darkness outside of Christ’s teachings. And yes, you will experience hatred from people living in that darkness, but no Christian should ever experience hatred directed at them by another Christian. They should only experience love.”3
There have been times when the Holy Spirit has held up a mirror
There have been times in my life when God, through the Holy Spirit, has held up a mirror and shown me faults I’ve had as a Christian. During those Holy Spirit mirror moments, I had to face up to and clean dirty little corners in my character that needed a good scrub.
One of those Holy Spirit mirror moments occurred after I’d attended a weekend ladies retreat in northern Nova Scotia two years ago. The speakers for the retreat were four women who shared personal stories of unmet needs they had experienced in their lives. The women discussed – sometimes painfully – how those unmet needs had impacted their relationships with parents and grandparents, with siblings and spouses, with friends and with God. I found good meat in their messages but confess that by Sunday the topic seemed repetitive. I wanted to get away from it. Surely that message didn’t apply to me.
In the days following the retreat, I had the nagging feeling that the Holy Spirit was chastising me. Not because of my attitude on that particular Sunday; rather, because of my judgmental attitude toward women in general, regarding body image.
As a child, I was what one might call “sturdy tending toward plump,” and I endured some nasty teasing. As a teenager, I cut calories, exercised like crazy and played every sport I could as I fought to reach my goal of being slim and staying slim. Obviously, I’d had an unmet need of my own – to be accepted, to be thought attractive in the body God had given me.
God doesn’t judge a person by appearance
What the Spirit pointed out to me after the retreat was that, even as an adult woman sixty years old, I was still obsessed with body image, still trying to outrun the nasty, hurtful teasing of decades ago. Even worse, I had developed the harmful, critical habit of mentally comparing myself with other women, either in my favor or against. I never said anything; it was all in my thoughts, but it was real, and it was wrong. My attitude definitely did not show love. God doesn’t judge a person by appearance. He looks into the heart.4 I felt the Spirit telling me, “So should you.”
I had never realized how prejudiced I was
Until the Holy Spirit held up that mirror, I had never realized how prejudiced I was. I wondered what other dirty little corners there are in my character that will need cleaning. I expect my future to hold more Holy Spirit mirror moments. The one I’ve related was a humbling experience, yet I took God’s chastisement to heart. With the Spirit’s help, I’m teaching myself to focus on women’s faces, on their beautiful eyes and myriad of expressions that come from the heart. And as a result, my heart no longer condemns me. I’m at peace with God about that issue now, and I’m much more at peace with myself and my body.
Learning to love others is a lifelong endeavor
Learning to love others, including learning to love other Christians, is a lifelong endeavor with many eye-opening, mind-opening, heart-opening steps along the way. When our hearts aren’t at peace with God, we need to look in the mirror that the Holy Spirit is holding up. We need to see where we have to clean up our act. Then we need to light a match to hang-ups and prejudices, jealousies and hatreds and watch the ashes of Satan’s schemes float away on the wind.
Ride the wings of freedom
When our hearts are at peace with God through obedience to his will and Jesus’ command to love one another, then – then we can come joyfully and confidently to God. Acknowledging and responding honestly to a Holy Spirit mirror moment can grant us the freedom born of love.
I know that Holy Spirit mirror moments have changed my life and have allowed me to ride the wings of that wonderful freedom, with love – like a heartbeat – resounding within me. That love still isn’t there every step I take during every hour of every day of my life, but I’m working on it.
1. 2 Corinthians 5:17
2. Matthew 6:31-33
3. My paraphrase of 1 John 3:11-15
4. 1 Samuel 16:7