God’s Mirror: “To Know as I am Known”
By Carolyn Allen
AI attended Stake Girls Camp two weeks ago. My tiny offerings to help with the music and be one of the “moms” for a group of Third Year campers were paltry indeed to the rich outpouring of blessings that came from sharing several days with young women rejoicing in the company of “their own” and remarkable adult women who had laid aside the things of this world for several days to assist.
The week followed the typical itinerary of Girls Camp with certification, hikes, crafts, songs, meals (wonderfully prepared with an abundance of fruits and vegetables), camp fires and much laughter.
As the parent of high schoolers, I couldn’t help compare the difference between these girls and their public high school peers. In appearance, our Young Women were so comfortable and modest in knee length shorts, baggy gym shorts and t-shirts with sleeves, all in stark contrast to our high school music department’s recent 3-day trip where the girls traveled in tank tops and short-shorts that were not too different than underwear. In spirit, the emotional roller coaster of “girl-drama” that often prevails on high school trips was virtually non-existent as we spent the week together.
With camping there are few mirrors, and no full-length mirrors to speak of. Hooray! As make-up vanished, and hair-dos quickly converted from hours with blow-dryers and curling irons to fun and fancy braids and pony-tails done without even a comb, I couldn’t help but marvel how delightfully differently we all look and act when these things and the attendant expectations and observations are stripped away.
On Ward Night, when our Bishop came up for fellowshipping with our own girls, my daughter and the others played, “let-go” and enjoyed each other as I know they rarely do at home. From the youngest Beehive through to the older Youth Leaders, the love and laughter flowed with team building games, then with a silly circle dance that kept them in hysterics until it was just too dark to dance anymore. Minor differences, petty conflicts and inhibitions vanished into the gathering twilight as they circled again and again with a chant that started with one girl in the middle and a “Hey there, Sally, you’re a real cool cat and you gotta lot of this and you gotta lot of that!”
What a great memory for each of these girls to carry back to real life, to be accepted at that moment and loved unconditionally by your peers and leaders in such a basic way. Sadly, these times don’t last forever and don’t repeat themselves nearly often enough.
However, this is exactly how our Heavenly Father always sees us, stripped down to just who we are, at our lovable best. “… for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
This principle was further developed a couple of days later on skit night. The 4th Year Girls cast themselves as all of the Disney Princess and Ryan, Simon, Randy and Paula, the emcee and judges from American Idol. As the princesses came up to be judged one by one, the emcees presented a positive fact or two, i.e, “Snow White! We see you’re a true champion of the vertically challenged! What a service! That’s great! ” and a question or two. This presentation of each princess was followed by sarcastic, critical assessment by the judges. The judges smugly rejected each of the princesses with harsh remarks such as “You lied to your father and don’t you forget it!” to Ariel, and “You’re disgustingly weird! You talk to teacups!” to Belle. With each rebuke, the defeated princesses took her place back in line.
As the last princess returned, one girl was still left. The emcee asked who she was and she replied apologetically, “I don’t know! I’m just Tatiana. I’m not a princess. There’s nothing special about me and I don’t quite know how I even got here!”
The emcees told her she was the daughter of a Heavenly King, a truly royal princess, beautiful and lovely in every way. As she gasped in surprise and delight, the judges came forward with their decision: They were wrong! Everyone participating and watching the contest were winners! Each was beautiful and filled with divine potential!
The skit was well-prepared and it’s message as important as water for survival.
Within a day or so, Camp was over and we all went home, buoyed by a good time and increased personal understanding. A return to real life (TV, the internet, advertising) however, is always a constant assault of media images depicting modern interpretations of how we are to dress, look and be. This can be enormously discouraging, no matter our age, for those of us who struggle with our weight and carry extra pounds, and/or who have genetically imposed heights and body builds that are counter to the pictures we see. In contrast, in every location and gathering, there are obese people of every age, size and shape seemingly saying “See! It’s all a joke! It’s so hard to eat right, exercise and be fit! Don’t bother even trying!” The conflicts and confusing messages seem to be a fulfillment of I Corinthians 13:12, where we read, “For now we see through a glass, darkly …”
In all, these messages constitute a very disheartening mirror where the message is that no matter what, we are lacking or powerless in some way.
In bright contrast is God’s mirror reflecting the Lord as our Father and our divine nature, including the miracle of our human bodies, regardless of its weight or present level of health In the glare of the almost ever-present actual mirrors reflecting our physical selves, along with the business of daily life, God’s mirror may be dim or even forgotten. Yet it is that mirror that will allow us to recognize, embrace and accept the divinity that is our birthright, no matter what. It is that mirror that will sustain us in ways no physical mirror can to make healthy choices as a matter of principle and respect. It is that mirror that completes the scripture I Corinthians 13:12 …”then shall I know, even as I am known.”
How can we obtain this mirror and keep it shining? It is worth every effort and we find it as we do all things of eternal value: We can discover and keep the mirror bright through church and temple attendance, living our covenants, scripture reading and our Patriarchal Blessings With that mirror we are able to “know as we are known,” and love ourselves as we are loved. With relief and a laugh, we can let go of our “fat photos” and replace them with mental images of ourselves at our healthy best and with joy we can sing with extended understanding ” I am a Child of God” …
I am a Child of God,
and he has sent me here,
has given me an earthly home,
with parents kind and dear …”
That home of which we sing is not just one of bricks and lumber, but our mortal bodies, given not just to house our spirits but as an opportunity for self-mastery for our period here on earth.
With his mirror and light to guide us and our choices for that home, we can – with physical fitness and vitality — do all that we must do to live with him someday.
P.S. As a fun way to motivate yourself and create a brighter mental image of yourself at a healthier weight, log onto www.WeightMirror.com. You’ll be able to upload a photo of yourself and see how you’ll look at up to nearly 50 pounds lighter!
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