When you go to a carnival or a state fair, what is your first stop? After the newest crazy thing that has been deep fried, where do you go? To see Wilbur? To ride up in the Ferris Wheel? Or to go to the funhouse with all the crazy mirrors?
You know them, right? You stand in front of them, and your reflection is altered in a myriad number of ways. Your body is thin as a string, or you look as wide as a house. Your neck is as long as a giraffe, but your head is like an eraser on a number two pencil. Or, there are a number of glass walls and mirrors set up to refract your reflection back a thousand times hundreds of different ways.
It’s all in good clean fun, right? You go, and you see your reflection, and you can not worry about the way that your image has been distorted. You’re not really wide as a house or thin as a string. Your body really is normally proportioned. Right?
When you get home, how do you see yourself in the mirror? Do you remember the images of before and laugh? Or do wish that you really were skinny as a string? Or do you see yourself as big as a house?
It’s a normal mirror, right? You see yourself as you really are, right? You can’t hide anything, and everything you see is exactly the truth.
Oh how I wish that were true.
Body image has been on the news recently. We try so hard to reach the ideal. We look at our reflections in the mirror and not only do we see the image reflected back to us, but we also see every comment that was ever made about our hair and our faces and our waistline and our skin. The mirror may not lie, but our narrative surely does. We see the image of perfection, whatever it may be, superimposed over our own frame, and we see that we will never attain it. Ever.
Isn’t there a better way than seeing our images reflected back to us and knowing we will never be perfect?
We were all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). We were created out of the love of God, and we live and move and have our being in God (Acts 17:28). God created us, and desperately wants us to see the same as our creator sees, an image of being created out of love.
Your mirror lies to you. You look at it and you see the images of the world superimposed on your body, and you know that you will never attain the perfect cookie-cutter ideal.
But there is a better image to see there. Look in to the mirror and see the joy that God had in creating you. Look and see the care that comes from the one who knows how many hairs are on your head. You are worth so much more than any worldly ideal.
Go play at God’s Carnival.