The last 24 hours has been a trip through a house of mirrors. Everywhere I turn, I see myself, only it's not the carefully cultivated self of my imagination, the person I think I am or hope I am in my best moments. Rather, these mirrors are mirrors of the true, showing me the grotesque, the sinner that I am.
Ha, ha. It's just a fun house, some would tell me. That's not really you. But it is.
No one likes to come face to face with who they really are. You're perking along, half a decade old, figuring you've got a few things mostly licked, that you're really mostly OK, not perfect, not substantially perfect in fact, but hey you're not all that bad --- God's working on you and making progress. Not so fast. It only takes a few incidents to peel back the curtain and show you what you're really made of, how far you have to go, how much you are in need of grace.
Yes, it's true. I'm a clutching, selfish materialist, in love with my stuff. I always like to think of myself as someone who "lives life with hands open," and yet it only takes a couple of requests and I begin to put the nails in the coffers. I have all kinds of reasons, sensible reasons, to deny these requests of me. But the real reason is fear, fear that if I open the door any wider the Mac Truck of need will drive right through and take all I have. Oh, I despise that image in a mirror.
I sat in my chair a full 10 minutes and looked out the window today, mourning this face in the mirror, useless to my employer. If anyone had seen me, they would have thought that I was studying some object out the window, but really I was peering in, not out. Would that it were out.
Where's the exit? I turn the corner on one sorry image only to confront another. Is that me? Angry? I'm an even-keel person, always pretty calm, rarely losing my temper. And yet the face in the mirror is one of anger. Funny thing about anger. You talk to yourself. You make up little conversations you might have with the offender, and rehearse little digs you'll make, rack up points. You think about their demise, how their pride will go before a fall (and how you can help them down that path). You catch a glimpse of that image out of your eye, the one you are avoiding, and it scares you a little.
I sat in my chair a full 15 minutes on that one. Stewing. Stirring the ashes of vengeance which is mine says the Lord, and yet maybe the Lord needs a little help I think.
I went to lunch. Alone. I sat at an outdoor cafe, at a table in the sun, the wind almost uncomfortable it was so brisk. I watched people walk past me. Could they see it? Could they see how ugly I was?Someway, halfway through my salad, two pieces of bread downed, I was done, or undone at least. I began to smile, inside anyway, at the humor of it all. Sometimes the best response to sin is to laugh at its absurdity, at the ways it toys with us.
It really is a fun house, a house of the absurd. Or maybe it's the house of truth. Or maybe it's both.
But I know one thing: I'm just glad to be out of there.