If you have ever walked through a house of mirrors you know what it is like to laugh at your distorted image because you know that you really do not look like that in reality. But what if you didn’t know how you actually looked and what if you didn’t know that the mirrors were warped so as to distort your image. You would hate to walk in front of any mirror lest you see your ugliness. You would not dare step outside the house of mirrors lest someone else see you. Similarly, we can have a distorted image of who we are as persons and the shame can cause us to fear stepping into the light of the truth of who we really are.
Humility is truth. Humble people are those who live according to the truth—those who live in reality. Any self-view that contradicts reality is not a humble one. There are, therefore, two extremes: thinking ourselves better and higher than we really are or thinking ourselves worse and baser than we really are. We who fall into either of these two are simply looking into a warped mirror which the Devil places before us. Both views are false. We must leave the house of mirrors and step into the light of truth.
But we often find it difficult to leave the house of mirrors. We are comfortable with our distorted image and are afraid to face who we really are. There is no need to fear the light when we know from whom it proceeds. The light of truth is the way God sees us: reality. Stepping into it is seeing ourselves the way he does: according to reality. The reality is that we are all sinners but sinners loved by God as children. Or perhaps a better way to see this is that we are all children of God who have sinned but are still loved. God sees us as a father sees his children: with love and care, concerned only with our best. He looks beyond our sins and sees the good that we can be. Sin does not define us. When a little boy falls into a muddy pit— the muddy pit he was advised by his dad to avoid— the boy on coming out of the pit is muddy and miserable. But he must be cleaned or else he will remain miserable and may even get a bacterial infection. What is he to do? He is too ashamed to tell his dad, but he is miserable. Is he to simply cover himself with a sheet and hide the mud? That wouldn’t get him very far and it wouldn’t be very honest. The best thing to do would be for him to go to his dad and admit that he fell into the pit and his dad would look on him with pity and love and help clean him. Likewise, when we sin, God doesn’t hate us. On the contrary, he is moved with pity to see us and wants to clean us and free us from the misery of sin. The problem is that we think that sin makes us monsters just like the little boy might think that the crusty mud on his skin makes him a monster. The sin we see in our lives can give us a distorted image of who we are and so, like the little boy, we are afraid to approach God and may even try to cover ourselves up. When we step into the light of truth, we see that we are, in reality, beloved children of God despite our sinfulness and that it is possible for us to be cleansed.
Lent is about changing our way of thinking from the unrealistic way we all see ourselves to the reality that we are beloved children of God. What better way to prepare for Holy Week and Easter, the celebration of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of he who died to save us, than to live the reality he attained for us.