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3.03.2009

Significant Moment #2: God's Love reflected is Beautiful

Mirror, Mirror on the wall... The year after I re-committed my life to Christ, my church sponsored a Women's Conference that significantly impacted my life. The main speaker, Cheryl Prewitt Salem (Miss America 1980), shared a message about God's restoration that captivated my attention. Her testimony of God's faithfulness in the face of numerous obstacles, both physically and emotionally, was amazing - her road to becoming Miss America was truly miraculous, as she suffered from physical challenges including a shortened leg and facial scars. She did not win many pageants but tenaciously hung onto what God had spoken to her. Eventually she made it to the Miss America pageant and won the title, triumphantly proclaiming God's Word in the year of her reign. I was thrilled by the opportunity to visit her ministry headquarters in Tulsa, OK when I moved there to attend Bible School. It was located in a posh shopping center and was also a store selling pageant clothing. I visited several times to purchase books and taped messages. Next door was a beautiful bridal shop. I couldn't resist the urge to step inside one day and marveled at the intimate, elegant room showcasing dreamy dresses and accessories. On the back wall was a large mirror in an elaborate gold frame. As I drew closer to it, I realized that I could not bear to look into it. In this wonderful room with perfect lighting designed to make any woman feel beautiful, I had to turn away from my reflection. I felt too vulnerable and exposed and also feared what would be revealed if I looked too closely into that mirror. I left the store and drove away stunned - I'd never experienced anything like that, obviously looking into mirrors at home daily in order to put on make-up or to fix my hair. I returned to the bridal store whenever I visited Cheryl Prewitt Salem's ministry and always found that I could not look into the mirror. I even brought a friend with me once to visit both places, curious about her response to the mirror. She looked into it with no hesitation and didn't seem to find anything extraordinary about the mirror or her reflection. I took a quick peek at myself from behind her and was immediately filled with remorse and embarrassment. That was the last time I went to that store. Soon after, I graduated and returned home to Virginia. Flash forward several years. During a whirlwind visit to Bulgaria to attend Bible School graduations throughout the country, I walked to a little hut selling convenience items to get a drink. Another American woman travelling with me reacted severely to the vile magazines littering the opening to the hut by the cashier and made no attempt to disguise her impatience with the language barrier or slow manner of the Gypsy lady operating the store. When my turn came, I struggled to get out the few words I'd tried to memorize in the guttural Bulgarian language and apologetically smiled at the Gypsy cashier. She asked me a question, and I turned to our interpreter to find out what she said. During our brief interaction, she said she saw God in me. A moment of kindness versus judgment in the midst of various vices - Thank You, Lord, for Your love that transcends languages and culture and reaches even the hidden corners of Eastern Europe! I had several opportunities on that trip and during my longer stay in Bulgaria to spend time among Gypsies, a displaced, outcast group of fiercely proud and beautiful people. I felt closer to God and the ministry of His Word flowed freely in their simple village churches and humble dwellings. When they worshipped God, it was joyful and heartfelt. After each church service, the old women embraced us as they offered us chocolates. I'll never forget having to use the bathroom and discovering that meant climbing over a fence into a large, muddy pig pen. The wooden shack in the midst of the muck had huge gaps in the crisscrossed boards, barely offering any privacy. Concerned about invading the pig's space as well as getting stuck in the mud, I decided that my bladder would have to wait the hours until I returned to town. I was showered with love and affection - from a Gypsy man operating a roadside stand who sliced open a watermelon with his large knife and gave it freely out of concern for our being out in the heat, to the Bible School students in a remote Gypsy town who locked arms with me as we walked to a nearby home for refreshments. A devoted pastor who worked tirelessly to serve his town and establish the Word of God in those under his care paid me the highest compliment as I chatted and played with his young son. He said he saw God in me. Working out the issues surrounding my own reflection has been an ongoing process, but what matters most is reflecting Jesus. The moon has no light source of its own and reflects the Sun. Jesus is our Light and has declared that we too are lights in this world. The book of John has so many references to this! May we be as faithful as the moon to steadfastly reflect the One who is Light and Love.

1 comment:

One Christian Mom said...

I understand not wanting to see your reflection. I have days where I actually brush my hair and teeth "blind", never looking in the mirror at all, hoping that I look ok. Here's my opinion, though (not that you asked! :-) If you are strong enough in your faith that people see God in you, it doesn't matter what you look like! (not to mention, if your profile pic is any indication, you are beautiful!)
Love,
Shellie