Reflections

My makeup mirror distorts my face, oversizing it to show more lines that have seemingly crept in overnight. I stare longer than usual at the red spots I have been trying to ignore. Are they bigger? I unscrew the small white cap from the tube of prescription medication. I have been avoiding it for a year. Scarcely applied to the spots, the lotion will remove layers of the lesions.

         “Use this,” the dermatologist said nonchalantly. He held out my prescription as if handing me a fork with my dinner.

         I know what will happen. Slowly, the skin will die and layers of tissue will shed. In a couple of weeks, my face will look like I skidded across the sidewalk. Maybe I just stay in for a few months. This is a viable option, even for an extrovert like me.

         I lie to myself. “I am not vain.”

Vanity made me ignore these growing red spots several years ago. The result: skin cancer. It required surgery.
         “You’re lucky, I almost had to do a skin-graft,” the surgeon said.  

         I shared the news with my friend Sue. She always had words of encouragement.

         “If you have a choice, that’s the kind of cancer you want.”

         Her bald head was draped in a colorful scarf, bright lipstick outlined the contours of her thinning lips. Only months prior, she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. How could I even mention my insignificant problems to a woman who struggled for her life? My cheeks flushed. More red to my face. Yet, nothing in her demeanor minimized my concerns. She didn’t know if she was going to survive the cancer. Yet in all her questions, she was convinced of one thing. She knew what those around her needed to see in her.

         Sue is on the ever-growing list of people I want to see in Heaven. She was a reflection of God in many ways. Our last conversation was brief. The cancer had spread to her brain and other organs, yet she made sure she saw and heard me, let me know she loved me.

         Before I left, I asked, “Can I pray with you? If I don’t see you again on this side, I want this to be the last thing we do together.”
With her typical bright, lip-sticked smile she reached a frail hand out and closed her eyes in anticipation.

         A couple of weeks after Sue went to her home in heaven, her husband asked my friend and me to come and clean the house. We carefully dusted around the evidence of her quiet life. In the bathroom, her red lipstick sat on the counter. On the outside of the fridge, from top to bottom, she had placed pictures of grandkids, missionaries, friends, people she prayed for regularly. Grief overwhelmed us as we dusted, vacuumed and mopped. Her Bible sat on the table where she met God every morning. I found a highlighter next to the last book she read, something I had recommended. I pulled out her chair and sat where she set for all those years and flipped through the pages. Throughout the first part of the book, sentences and paragraphs were underlined in bright yellow. The last chapters were clean. She never made it to the end.

         “We were all her favorites, weren’t we?” I said to my friend who stopped dusting the dresser. We cried, the ache leaking from us like a sieve.
 

         I don’t want skin-grafts or scars, and would rather not deal with these signs of wear and tear, the evidence that these bodies are only here for a short time. I carefully dab and smear small amounts of the lotion onto the red spots and lean in, closer into this enlarged image. If I am supposed to look like God, what parts of me do and what parts don’t reflect Him?


         Does God look like those who have cancer? Can we see Him in their grit to keep going? Maybe He looks like people who have ALS, like Bill? He could not speak nor move. Maybe God has a friendly face like Sally at the convenience store. William’s Syndrome makes her smile all day. Is God pained with grief, like John, the gas-station attendant, who lost his wife. Or does He hide His grumpy face, like Tom, a retired police officer from Chicago, who lived next door for more than 20 years before I noticed him? Can God’s image be reflected in a husband, like Scott, who had to decide if he could live with my infidelity.

         I look again. How many lies do I believe about myself and those around me? What I am supposed to be and look like, light up my phone and shout from my computer screen. Do I merely delete the messages, or must I protect myself from something much more dangerous? We pay attention to the wrong things, let them give worth to us.

The Bible tells me to guard my heart with all diligence. Larry Crabb in his book The Papa Prayer writes,

“In the center of your soul and mine, in the exact center, the Shekhinah glory resides – the literal, real, overwhelming presence of God. And when we live out of that center, all the self-seeking energy that guides so much of what we think and feel and do, often without even knowing it, is miraculously displaced by love.”


         Yes. There, deep inside of us lay buried a reflection, a mysterious melding of the Creator’s image and ours. Over many years, I have tried to lean into the stories of people around me – as if looking deeply into a mirror. The more I searched for God’s image, the more I saw something I didn’t expect. I was staring at the obvious all along and didn’t recognize it – even as I looked into the mirror at my own reflection.

20 responses to “Reflections”

  1. Always pointing to the deeper meanings of life, that’s why I’m always eagerly open your post in my inbox and hoping it will bring encouragement to my day. And it sure does always! Feel blessed trough you ❤

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, Manette

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this challenging post Heidi. To see Jesus in others, to know their pain, a gift and as well as learning response-ability

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how you put that, Gary. Thank you for reading, friend

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So beautifully written, Heidi. Praise God for family and friends like your Sue and our mutual blog-friend, Bill, who have shown us how to die. Their faith, peace, strength, and yes–humor–give indication that even in the process of dying, God will make our path straight. (Keep me mindful, Father!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for always encouraging me with your kind words, Nancy. Don’t you just miss Bill? He was one of the biggest influences in my walk with Christ. … “Lord, make us like you.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I do miss Bill. He radiated Jesus through his words, in spite of being trapped inside a body that no longer functioned. A true hero of the faith!

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  4. Your thoughts are both raw and real, Heidi. Such unvarnished truth is much needed in Christian circles. We all have feet of clay, and can see reflections of things we do not like in every mirror. 🙏Heavenly Father, please help us to “number our days,” as David said. Give us undivided hearts, that we may fear your name. Amen.

    Thank you, Heidi. Please post more often, when you can. I’m always both blessed and convicted by your writing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, David. I will do my best to post more 🙂 Blessings, brother

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  5. “He must increase I must decrease” The blessed work of Christ within is accomplished by displacement. How faithful is our merciful Saviour.
    BT

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes. He lives in us…Thanks for reading, BT

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  6. Katie Fredenburg Avatar
    Katie Fredenburg

    Oh friend! I love this so much! All of it!!! And please know that you always have a platform with me!❤️

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love you, my friend … (and I am smiling really big right now)

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      1. What your friend Katie said here, is exactly how I felt when I read your post early this morning. I wish I had been thoughtful enough to tell you, the way she did. But I got hung up on the odd coincidence of how I had just been looking in the mirror, wondering about all the people who have ever lived, in ancient times and in impoverished countries, who never had a mirror to look into. It’s something I don’t recall ever thinking about, before. Then, minutes later, I read this post. It really is a wonderful, moving, honest, heartfelt post.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Linda, it occurred to me that there is no mention in the Bible of mirrors in heaven, and I don’t think there will be. Although we will have our new bodies and will no doubt be exquisitely beautiful, we will be oblivious to the fact. On that day our eyes will be on our beautiful Savior, and nothing else will matter.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Yes … no mirrors in heaven. He is the only thing worth looking at. I love that thought, Annie

            Liked by 1 person

  7. As I was looking in the mirror early this morning, I had a strange thought. How many people, in the history of the world, never saw themselves reflected in a mirror? Then I wondered if that would be a good thing or a bad thing, to go through life having no idea of what you look like.

    I had several precancerous lesions removed from my face in 2019. Prior to that, I looked very young for my age. But just this year, my face has aged very badly. I think I would be better off with no mirrors.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading, Linda Lee… Outwardly we are wasting away … but inwardly we are being renewed … day by day ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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