So whose big idea was it to put magnifying mirrors in hotel bathrooms? You know what I'm talking about. Those mirrors that reflect the image you are used to seeing on one side but when you flip them over... Oh no! Where did that hair come from and why didn't someone tell me?! Good grief I have big pores!!!I
I am certain that whoever invented this brilliant device had all good intentions. It helps me apply makeup with absolute precision. It alerts me to breakfast leftovers wedged in my teeth. And yes... without it I wouldn't notice the hair growing out of my nose. But seriously?! I was perfectly satisfied with my image... and then, the mirror flipped.
That's kind of how I see the holidays. By all outward appearances, this is the most wonderful time of the year. The halls are decked for fa-la-la fun. The world is splashed with red and green and the nights are all aglow with twinkling lights. And do you hear what I hear?... the jolly jingling of bells on every corner.
But on the flip side...November, December and January can be the most miserable months of the year. For many, this is a season when depression and sorrow are magnified. Daily struggles with mental health issues turn into full-blown battles. Dancing sugar plums are bullied out of one's dreams by fear and anger. And the joy of others looms larger than life in the face of personal disappointment and loss.
I get it. And I hate that I get it. It wasn't that long ago that this season was truly magical for me. And I want so much to re-discover that magic. But just when I catch a glimpse of Christmas glitter, I am blind-sided by hopelessness and despair.
Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God. (Psalm 40:1, NASB)
If I could sit on God's lap like I sat on Santa's lap as a child, and give the Lord my wishlist for Christmas, I would ask for healing of broken relationships. I would say "pretty please" for the life that I thought I would have by now. I would request nights without nightmares and days without anxiety. And I would whisper into the Lord's ear the deepest yearnings of my heart... things that I dare not speak out loud for fear of disappointment.
But realistically, I know that when I wake up on Christmas morning, relationships will probably still be as broken as the shattered ornaments that fell on the floor the night before. My stocking will not be stuffed with the perfect life I've imagined. And those deep desires... well, maybe next year.
But I'm tired of saying, "Maybe next year"! How many more holidays would I simply endure rather than enjoy. How do I find that joy that has eluded me for too many Christmases? FLIP THE MIRROR.
Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
And let those who love Your salvation say continually,
"Let God be magnified." (Psalm 70:4; NASB)
The most joy-filled people I know didn't get that way because they got everything on their wishlist. They still suffer from heartbreak and struggles in this world that they wish would disappear. But their joy isn't found in the world... it's in the Lord. And they found it only after they stopped focusing on all that is wrong in life and started magnifying what is right.
"The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly when he hears the bridegroom's voice. This then is my joy, and it is complete. He must become more important while I become less important." (John 3:29-30; NET)
Easier said than done... I know. That's because we are constantly bombarded with the lie that our value is measured by health, wealth and happiness. But the Truth is that our worth lies in a manger... a newborn King who loves us so much that He humbled Himself to the point of birth in a stable and death on a cross. And true joy is determined by which image we seek to magnify... self or Savior.
So I have a new Christmas wish this year... that when I look at me in the mirror I see Him.
I will praise the name of God with song
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30; NASB)
And I wish the same for you.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together. (Psalm 34:3; NASB)
Magnifying the Lord this holiday season doesn't guarantee that depression and sorrow disappears. But I am learning that it does put pain in its place... behind the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I have written "MAGNIFY" on my bathroom mirror to remind me every morning... more of Him and less of me. It's not easy and I regularly fall short. But maybe if this holiday wish becomes a daily effort through the New Year, by this time next year, that elusive Christmas joy will finally be waiting for me under the tree.