By Kayla Faherty
Every morning I spend time in prayer, and my prayer place is right beside a window overlooking our backyard and the woods beyond. I find great peace during my time of prayer, and part of that peace comes from the beautiful view of nature I am greeted with each day. I enjoy watching the changing of the seasons. Witnessing the turn from the sunny summer months, to the falling of the leaves, the beautiful snowfall, to the greening of spring has been a great gift. And I have had many companions through the seasons. Deer, turkeys, groundhogs, rabbits, and chipmunks are regular visitors. But I especially enjoy the company of the many birds I have been privileged to pray with. Their sweet songs have become the music of my prayers. And these little birds always seem to have something to teach me.
Our neighbors two doors up park their covered bed truck at the rear of their house. Every morning without fail (and sometimes even later in the day) there is a beautiful male cardinal who swoops out from the tree and crashes into his reflection in the back window. He struts back and forth, hoping to catch his reflection off-guard, fighting with himself. He runs the length of the truck bed in an attempt to defeat what he believes is his foe. While all the other birds are singing sweetly in the trees or taking their morning flights or searching for worms, he is beating himself up. And every morning I hope that today is the day he realizes that what he sees in the reflection is himself.
My former self can relate to this little bird. When I was younger, beginning in junior high and lasting until I was almost thirty, I fought with my reflection. Everything was all wrong. My hair was the wrong color, my nose was the wrong shape, my cheeks were too big, my complexion was too pale, were those more freckles?, will this acne ever go away?, my height was much too short, my curves were not curvy enough, my weight was much too high, and where did these wrinkles come from? When I looked into the mirror I saw a fat, ugly girl. What I desperately wanted was to look like was someone else, someone with clear skin and a thin body, someone beautiful.
To try to hide my insecurities I bought product after product. I spent a lot of time and money on lotions, hair products, makeup, and clothing. My goal was to look as good as I could, and it didn’t matter what it cost. I could not leave the house without my hair and makeup done. I had put on a pretty good mask, for others and for myself. But my self-loathing finally had to be uprooted.
A couple years ago, when I answered the Holy Spirit’s call and began to open my heart to God, He began to reveal His love for me. It is a love like I had never known. I became aware of how much care went into creating me. That God would will me into being opened my eyes to how much He truly loves me. Psalm 139:14 reads: “I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.” I finally began to see myself a little more closely to how God sees me, beloved and beautiful! And what a difference that has made in my life.
Authenticity comes when we are honest with ourselves, when we let the masks fall. Opening myself up to God’s love allows me to look in the mirror and see my true reflection. I was awakened and came to find that my perception of myself was not reality, not God’s truth. I can accept myself for who I am, and I can care for myself in a much healthier way. So when you see me today, chances are I will not being wearing makeup, my hair will be plain, and my clothing modest. Of course there are special occasions in which I fix my hair and do my makeup, and that makes them even more special. But for everyday life I have foregone many dollars, hours, and energy spent trying to change the way I look, by simply seeing myself for what I am, freckles and all.
God’s way is always the best way. And the way He sees me sure beats the way I used to see myself. I wish I could tell that little cardinal how beautiful he is, how wonderful he has been made. That God created him especially, and that when he looks at his reflection he can see his true self. That might be a tall order for a bird; perhaps you’ll have better luck seeing your true reflection instead.