Every Tuesday evening I look forward to working out with my co-workers for our strength training. I eagerly shut down my computer, changed my clothes, grabbed my yoga mat and headed downstairs to get my work out in. As I arrived in the room and started enjoying the music, one of my co-workers gently informed me that my shirt was on backwards. I darted out of the room to get to a bathroom to change it as quickly as possible. As I was changing my shirt around, I was grateful my co-worker had informed me. I would have felt much worse had I gotten all the way home and noticed it when I was undressing. I would have been worried about who saw it and failed to tell me. When I asked others in the room why they didn’t tell me, they said they didn’t see it or they thought I had planned to wear it that way.
Not so long ago my girlfriend experienced the same dilemma. She had gone for more than three hours in the company of others and no one bothered to tell her that she had a big piece of lettuce in her front teeth. The sad part was someone brought it up the next day at a luncheon. She was horrified to know that they had noticed it and no one bothered to tell her about it so that she could correct it. Why didn’t they tell her?
The more I thought about it, I notice things about others all the time, but pick and choose when I decide to say something. It depends on the relationship I have with that person, and how I feel they will take it. But why are we afraid to tell someone something about themselves? Are we concerned that they will turn around and criticize something they have noticed about us? In the Bible, Matthew 7:1-4, we are warned not to judge one another. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”
The Bible is absolutely right. So when we look at others, what do we first notice about them? Do we look for what is wrong with them, before we look at ourselves? If we stop to take a look at ourselves in the mirror, we will begin to notice our own flaws and the areas that need correction. When looking at ourselves, perhaps sometimes we are looking through the wrong mirror. We have tons of mirrors in our house, but I use different ones for different views of myself. There’s a full length mirror in the closet for checking out my complete outfit including shoes. When I am trying to style my hair or put on my makeup I use the large bathroom mirror. However, if I am trying to tweeze my eyebrows or get rid of unwanted facial hair, I have to turn on my super-powered cosmetic mirror so I can really see what I am doing. Often when I look in the cosmetic mirror on the highest power, I see what I would not have seen in other mirrors. I see stray hairs, unruly gray hair, skin imperfections and makeup errors. I don’t have time to focus on anyone else when I see my own flaws.
In order for us to grow we must stop and take a look at our lives and see what we are doing wrong. When I experience problems in relationships with others, it is easy for me to see what is wrong with them, and miss what is wrong with me. Perhaps it is time to do some self-reflection and look at our lives through God’s mirror. What is God’s mirror? It is simply the Word.
James 1:22-25 (NIV) tells us: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
By looking at the Word as a mirror, we can study it and determine what changes we need to make in our lives. If we focus on what to do about our own imperfections, we won’t have to worry about others imperfections. By reading the word daily we can do a self-check to determine if there is anything we need to do before we leave the house. So with that being said…Do you have your shirt on backwards?
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach