Random Blog Clay Feet: April 08, 2008
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What Are You Reflecting?

I have been thinking more about this mirror analogy lately and was discussing it with my sister today when some more thoughts came to me. It is helping me have an internal image for when I find myself in situations that tend to trigger unwanted reactions within me.

I have observed and noted a number of times how our spirit is like a mirror that reflects the spirit of whomever we are focusing on. That is why it is so typical that when someone gets angry at us we most often immediately feel like getting angry ourselves. If someone shames us we often desire to shame them in return. If a group of people start gossiping we feel pressure to join in ourselves. Temptation in general is seen in the natural function of our mind to respond in kind to whatever is coming our direction.

I spent some time trying to draw a crude illustration of this today. It took awhile since I had never used the program before and it did not seem easy to learn intuitively and I couldn't find any instructions for dummies with it. But I finally got it finished and then managed to figure out how to convert it into a picture that I could use elsewhere.

While there may be many times when we may seem to have an opposite reaction to what is coming toward us, like fear in response to anger, I think that if we look deeper into our hearts that we will discover that many of the initial emotions that don't seem to be similar to what is coming toward us are often secondary emotions because of our feeling overwhelmed or vulnerable. But after awhile the real emotions reflecting the ones directed at us begin to emerge and our desires for revenge or for indulgence, depending on the situation, will begin to become apparent and the mirror effect becomes more evident.

Many of the ways we try to deal with this mirror tendency is to suppress our natural reactions so as to try to be a nicer person, a better Christian or whatever standard we have set up for ourselves. Very often we engage in patterns that are really nothing more than fancy ways of being a hypocrite without admitting the label. We try to mask over what we are really feeling inside with trained behaviors and calculated maneuvers to fit the model we want to project for our image. But underneath, the mirror is still functioning and all the painting and decorations that we arrange on the front of our mirrors has little effect on what is going on in our heart and with our spirit.

As I thought more about this analogy I realized that though God designed us as mirrors He did it for a much better purpose that how we normally live. We are designed in such a way so that we are supposed to be reflecting the glory of God just as Jesus did during His whole life on earth. But because we are thinking much more about how other people are treating us and are almost totally oblivious to the truth about what God thinks about us we end up reflecting the things that we were not designed to thrive on but that tend to dismantle us.

What can we do about this problem of reflecting the evil that is so real all around us? Since we cannot do anything about the fact that we are not originators but only mirrors, how can we avoid the consequences of reflecting the wrong things? In addition, if we try to confront others head-on about situations or attitudes the results are usually much less that God's design for our lives. In fact the very word “confront” when looked at carefully in this analogy reveals the problem of this approach. “Con” denotes a negative state of mind and “front” is to face directly. So when we decide to confront someone we are often assaulting them head-on with a negative spirit and will likely create a negative reaction in return because they too are mirrors reflecting what they are perceiving from our spirit.

As I thought about this I realized that when we are faced with a situation that tempts us to reflect someone else's attitudes and spirit we have a choice as to what direction we face our spirit. We may not have much choice in the moment about whose presence we are living with but we can choose who we focus our spirit attention on at anytime. In essence, if we turn our spirit mirrors away from directly facing others who may be the source of our temptations and look to see what God is thinking, something very interesting happens. Not only can we avoid the reactionary tendency to respond in kind to others but as we pay more attention to God others will begin to see in our mirror a reflection of God instead of the spirit they are projecting.

There are a number of interesting effects of adopting this posture besides the fact that we can avoid reflecting back what is being directed toward us. This angle of viewing others while focusing on God actually allows us to take the things coming at us and reflecting them on to God instead of absorbing them ourselves. In this way we can simply pass along all the anger, the bitterness, the shame and all the other evil that people intend to harm us with and allow Jesus to take it all onto Him as He has arranged for us to do. Then in exchange, because we are linked into relationship with God we can receive the grace, the forgiveness and the love coming from Him and bounce it off our mirror back toward the person we are interacting with.

Even more than all of this, God will also help us to view the other person the way He sees them instead of through our human way of perceiving others. God can see their heart which is hidden behind their mirror and if we will stay tuned to His face He can relay to our spirit what is really going on in their life and heart behind the outward appearances and fill us with His compassion and love in the midst of what otherwise may appear to be a hopeless situation. As we turn our focus onto heaven's perspective we will be more empowered to see as God sees and feel as God feels. We will begin to become real-life reflectors of the image of God which is His ultimate desire for every one of us.