I slowly rise up from the bathroom floor while I grab a tissue to wipe my dripping nose. I shakily stand at the sink mesmerized by the water falling through my fingers. My cupped hands fill with water and I bring them up to my face longing to erase what just happened, just as the water washes the messy evidence away.
I am 17 and I am lost.
I have spent two years looking in mirrors and struggling with the image that I see. The control over this person, this body, reflected back has left me grasping and in this moment of fear I turn and do the one thing I swore I would never do. But this time, when I stand up and look into this mirror with the water dripping off my face, the image slowly begins to change. I feel like Peter in Narnia when he sees the White Witch behind the wall of ice and, while she taunts him with a greater power, he realizes the falseness of what he is seeing.
I look into this mirror in a bathroom that is not even my own. Years later I don’t have any recollection whose house this was, but the image of that bathroom and my reflection in that mirror are crystal clear. And I know that this was a turning point.
At seventeen I see an image reflecting back which finally has a glimmer of truth in it. At 44, I know that this is the moment where I begin a new chapter.
A wall of ice of my own had been built up to disfigure the truth.
In this moment, the ice began to give way and the evil behind it began to shatter.
“Repentance is the steady drumbeat of a life with Christ,” writes Tish Harrison Warren in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary. For years after this moment the drums sound every time I look in a mirror. I see my appearance on the mirrors in shopping malls. My reflection catches my eye in windows as I walk down the city streets and I have to stop myself. I want this echo of myself, this reflection, to become a moment of repentance. Restoration slowly comes as I begin to see what is actually there, in place of the taunting image that hides behind the shadows.
But restoration is slow. And, like any battle, there is a give and take between the winning and losing. I look back on this girl in the mirror, staring back at herself and wondering what she had just done and I realize that she is still here. This body looking back at me now is past middle age, has lost its shape to the two children who grew inside of it and still I hear those drumbeats. I still hear those whispers of untruth about who I am and I weep over my immaturity. I have heard the truth for decades now, but still the drumbeats are often covered over by an even louder banging.
But it is out of rhythm.
So I stand in front of the mirror and I see my reflection and I find that steady drumbeat of truth again.
And the shadows are dimmer.
When it comes to weaving words – Aimee Davis doesn’t remember a time when words weren’t constantly roaming around in her head. These days she spends her time chasing words and thoughts while she mothers and homeschools her children, and learns to love her family and friends well. She savors quiet moments with a cup of tea; when she’s able to catch those words and find the courage to write them down.