I was elated this winter to move to a new barn with my horse, Bert. This new, back to basics facility is not as fancy as Bert’s previous, more luxurious residence, which had two covered arenas, an electronic horse walker, an outdoor arena with stands and four state of the art barns with stalls. However, what we now lack in equipment is made up for with warm invitations from the fellow boarders and facility owners.
After transitioning to the new barn, I quickly began taking lessons from the owner, Ed, with my horse, Bert. While boarding at the luxury barn, Bert and I had hit a wall as a team – horse and rider. I felt like we were no longer communicating well with each other. We no longer had the trust that is vital between horse and rider. It felt as if we were starting over, back to the beginning and learning once again to build confidence in each other.
Bert was nervous, anxious and seemed fearful of even the slightest things. Immediately as we began lessons, Ed had insights into our relationship. During our lesson, I was anticipating Bert to spook, act crazy or untamed. I was very alert to every noise and movement going on around the arena wary of something that may cause Bert to spook or scare. My attention was barely on my lesson or instructor I was too concerned about the possibility of something happening.
It didn’t take long for Bert to become inattentive to the lesson as well. He began focusing on the same things I was – noises, other horses and people outside the arena. Ed, being the straight-shooter he is, immediately called attention to this and said, “Your horse is a mirror image of you! If you are anticipating something bad to happen then so is he.”
Those words “mirror image” hit me hard. For months, I had been blaming my horse for his uncharacterized behavior, but after hearing the words “mirror image” I realized he wasn’t the only one at fault. The blame was not all on my horse. He was mirroring me.
Bert was simply a reflection of his rider – me.
It wasn’t that Bert and I were no longer connected as a team. We were indeed a team, and he was mirroring my thoughts and actions. Is this the type of image I want my horse to have – one of fear? Could he be a reflection of something that I wasn’t portraying? Probably not.
It made me contemplate, what kind of image am I reflecting to those around me? Am I reflecting Christ and His image? What do I see when I look in the mirror? Do I see insecurities, fear, mistrust, shame or my past? Or do I see wholeness, freedom and a bright future?
Genesis 1:27 (MSG) reads “God created human beings…Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female.” The definition of reflecting is “to give back or show an image of; mirror or to be reflected.” (dictionary.com) Google describes a reflective surface as something that can “throw back without absorbing”. What if we weren’t meant to absorb all of the fullness of God? Maybe we are meant to absorb as much as we are humanly capable of and then throw it back out, reflecting God’s nature, casting His image to others so that they to can absorb the light.
Disney’s Snow White portrays an evil queen who is obsessed with her reflection in a mirror. Many times, they show her going back to the mirror repeating “Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest one of all”.
The queen constantly goes back to her reflection to find value, identity, and worth. She had a title and a castle, yet none of it was enough. She still sought to find value and worth. The image she saw reflected in the mirror was not one of Christ and it resulted in her feeling a sense of void and emptiness.
We are, in some ways, very much like that queen, constantly needing affirmation and seeking value and worth. If she would have seen His image in the mirror, my guess is she wouldn’t keep going back to the reflection because seeing His image would have left her feeling whole, valued and worthy.
When we look in the mirror, the image reflected should look like Christ. He is love, grace, humility, patience, kindness, and strength. We don’t have to look in a mirror to see what our lives reflect; the fruits of our words and actions reveal the reflection. The way you love your spouse, children, neighbors, and co-workers are the reflection. The way you tithe and give at your local church are the reflection.
The question is, “What are you reflecting?”
Hearing that my horse was a mirror reflection of myself, I sought to ride differently. Prior to hopping in the saddle, I started setting my mind, heart and actions to be purposeful. I rode with confidence and without fear. Each ride began to look differently as Bert began exhibiting the same attributes that I was reflecting. We were now a reflection of strength, focus and courage. I sought to be intentional when riding Bert and thought, “I need to be intentional in my Christian walk!”. Prior to the day starting, I set my intentions on being a reflection of Christ and demonstrating love and grace. I realized that the more time I spend with God and in His word, the more natural it was reflecting someone I knew and recognized in the mirror.
When shining a light in a mirror, it reflects brighter. When shining a light on a wall, it absorbs most of the light. Mirrors naturally reflect more than walls. Let’s choose to be mirrors instead of walls, reflecting the light and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.