I woke up one morning to a perfect day, the kind that begged me to run outside and smell the fresh dew on the grass and soak up the splendor of the early morning rays. But this day I barely glanced out the window. I ignored the image of perfection and headed straight to the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw.
For months I had been holding up a mirror in front of me. I don’t know where I found this mirror, but one day I had glanced into it and from that point on couldn’t put it down. I hadn’t been able to see much of anything else for a long time. This mirror was always in the way, forever staring back at me and reminding me of all my imperfections. This mirror never showed me anything except all the ways I didn’t match up to expectations, all the ways I had failed, all the ways I was inferior. And this mirror never let me alone.
Throughout this perfect day there were many opportunities to laugh with friends, to smile at children, to help someone else—so many ways to find happiness. But all I could see all day was my own reflection in the mirror. I was blinded to everything else, lost in my little world that consisted only of me and my mirror.
The sun was shining brightly outside, but there were dark rain clouds over my mind. Everything that happened to me seemed to confirm that no one cared or even noticed me. I looked in my mirror, and it told me that there was nothing about me to like. I was too riddled with faults to be loved or happy. I watched the laughter, the smiles, and the happy experiences of others, but only from a distance as I sat in my little corner and peered around my mirror. How can they be so happy? Don’t they notice me? Don’t they see how miserable I am?
Every time I tried to venture out of my little corner, my mirror screamed at me that it was no use. Then it would throw my reflection back at me, and I would stare and stare some more, letting the world pass me by while I sank further and further into the dark abyss of negativity and hopelessness.
And then it occurred to me. Why not just cover up the mirror? Yes, you have faults. Yes, you’ll never be perfect. Yes, you’ll always make mistakes. So what? You can’t live your life ignoring all hope of happiness just because you don’t have every good quality you wish you had. Forget about yourself and focus on others. Ignore the mirror, and see how much happier you’ll be!
It took a great deal of effort, but I finally did cover up the mirror. At first I felt insecure without my mirror to run to. I felt exposed, vulnerable. At first I was uncomfortable with the thought that people could possibly accept me just the way I was, faults, failings, and all. I soon realized, though, that the more I let myself just be myself and the more I reached out to others, difficult as that was at first, the happier I became. The dark rain clouds over my head were vanquished by bright, warm rays of blessed, lasting peace.
The mirror is still there. It’s never going to go away. But I keep it out of sight. There will always be the danger that I could pick it up and become captivated by it again. I could land right back to where I was—depressed, withdrawn, introverted, and self-absorbed. But every time I’m tempted to peek into that mirror, I remind myself how much happier I am now that I’ve accepted my imperfections and determined to not let them get me down. I’ll never be exactly the way I wish I were, but I do have lots to give to others. And I can’t do that when I’m staring into the mirror.
When I woke up this morning, cold rain was coming down in torrents. Thunder was rumbling, and I couldn’t see the sun for the black clouds. It was a miserable morning outside, but sunshine and blue skies were in my heart. Today was perfect!