selective focus photography of girl facing lighted magnifying lamp

Photo by Silvia Trigo on

I have a love/hate relationship with my magnifying mirror. On the one hand I can see which eyebrow hairs need plucking. On the other, I can too easily see the flaws and wrinkles in my aging skin. And the bright light surrounding the mirror doesn’t help. I often find myself simply staring into the glass and wondering, “Who is that?”

I was recently challenged by a speaker at a Christian Women’s Conference to write down five wonderful things about myself. I couldn’t do it. And I believe most of the women at that conference were in the same boat as me.

I wrote things like:

  1. I love God (Well, that’s a safe answer.  I’m at a Christian Women’s Conference — on a Saturday!)
  2. I’m a child of God (I don’t think that’s what the speaker was going for.)
  3. I did manage to write “I like to teach” and “I’m a pretty good writer.”

Why is it so hard to acknowledging the good things in us? I pondered the idea briefly after the conference, then let it go in favor of less self-evaluating distractions. But the thought hung limply in the back of my mind and wouldn’t go away. Have you ever tried to push God aside when He has something to say? (It doesn’t work.) Sure enough, later in the week God pulled the question to the front of my brain once again, which means I have to look at it more closely. So why don’t we take a look in the magnifying mirror together? (After all, misery loves company.)

Today I read this quote from Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This whole idea of self-promotion seems contrary to the Christian principal of humility. It’s certainly a challenge when you’ve written a book. Here’s the dilemma:

I wrote a book for people to read, so naturally I want it to sell. However, when I campaign for the book, it feels like bragging and singing my own praises. But, if I don’t advertise, it no one will read it.

Is it God’s intention for us to suppress our talents?

Is it His desire for us to sweep under the rug the compliments others give us?

Is it honoring to Him when we deny the good things in us?

I don’t think so. Let me illustrate.

Parents love to brag about their children. Look at all the “My child is an Honor Student” bumper stickers on the road. (If you get close enough to their bumper you can even read the fine print: “… in kindergarten!”) Proud parents can’t wait to show everyone pictures or videos of their kids’ latest achievements or the funny faces they made before jumping in the pool.

I think God’s the same way. He’s proud of His kids. Can’t you see Him showing your picture to the angels saying, “Oh, I love this picture. Look at that smile!” I can even imagine Him taking my greatest achievements and proudly sticking them on His refrigerator door like a first grader’s drawing.

He wants us to succeed because our success is a witness to others. He gives us talents so we can be influencers (or ambassadors) for Him. That’s how we represent the Kingdom. Isaiah 60:1 calls for us to shine like the sun, not reflect like the moon.

False humility is actually pride which puts the focus on us. When we say, “It’s not me.” we’re actually saying, “Look at how humble I am.”

We all struggle with receiving compliments. Instead of saying, “Thank you” our response is often, “It’s not me, it’s Jesus.” But the truth is if it really was Jesus, it would have been better.

Nazi prison camp survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, was once asked how she handled all the praise and compliments she received when she spoke. She said, “When people come up and give me a compliment. I take each remark as if it were a flower. At the end of the day I lift up the bouquet of flowers I have gathered throughout the day and say, ‘Here you are, Lord, it is all yours’..”

So, I’m learning to acknowledge the compliments and celebrate who God made me to be — after all I’m His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

So here’s my list:

  1. I’m generous.
  2. I’m an effective teacher.
  3. I have a good sense of humor.
  4. I’m a gifted writer.
  5. I have Godly wisdom.

How about you? Isn’t it time you took a closer look in the mirror and started a list of your own? After all, you are the light of the world.