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ON FAITH: Could you need a new mirror to see the best in you?

Psychologists tell us that “mirroring” is the copying of one person’s behavior by another. The behaviors copied could be gestures, movements, facial expressions, attitudes, or speech patterns. Sometimes mirroring is almost unconscious or unintentional.

Yet, Dr. Beverly Amsel in a recent article notes that mirroring actually has some very significant results. For example, it is vital for parents to begin mirroring their babies’ behaviors very early in life. When the baby smiles, the parent makes eye contact and returns the smile. Laugh meets laugh. Babbling results in a spoken response from the parent. All this mirroring contributes to the child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

According to Dr. Amsel, positive mirroring ought to continue right through adolescence and early adulthood, as identities are forged and affirmed. If positive mirroring doesn’t occur, if a child is neglected or critically smothered, the child fails to see him or herself as interesting, worthwhile, and admirable.

We thought about “mirroring” recently when we came across the biblical story from the Gospel of Luke about the tax collector, Zacchaeus. Tax collectors in Zacchaeus’ day were despised. They were usually little more than cheats and extortionists. Zacchaeus was a short man, and so the day Jesus came to his town he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree to get a better view of things. And when Jesus spotted Zacchaeus in his perch up the tree, he went directly to him and he asked Zacchaeus to come down because, Jesus said, he wanted to go to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner. The story tells us that from that moment on Zacchaeus was a changed man. He refunded all those he had defrauded and made four-fold restitution to those he cheated.

When ancient Biblical commentators examined this story, they struggled to explain the astonishing and instantaneous change in Zacchaeus that day. One of them imagined a later conversation between Zacchaeus and Jesus that explained it. In this conversation Jesus asked, “What did you see from your perch in the sycamore tree that made you desire God’s peace, Zacchaeus?” And Zacchaeus replied, “I saw mirrored in your eyes, the face of the Zacchaeus I was meant to be.”

Whose eyes mirror your face? Your family and friends, your colleagues or neighbors? What do they tell you about yourself? We hope what you see mirrored back to you gives you peace, increases your confidence, and affirms you in being your best, truest, most worthy self. We hope you see whom you were meant to be.

But if you’re not getting that sort of reflection mirrored back to you, maybe you need another mirror. Maybe from time to time we all need to place ourselves before One who will look deeply into our hearts and souls, discerning the best in us. Maybe we need that One to mirror us. Maybe we need confirmation that we have the ability to become ever more like the One in whose image we were made.

Have you been fortunate enough to see yourself through God’s eyes? We hope so. It can work wonders.

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