One of the things that amazed me in the report written on me as I was selected for ordination training (and it is important to emphasise only training, lots more reports before I was actually ordained!) was being described as warm and engaging Sally. The Sally I see in the mirror is not always the Sally that others may see, part of me still sees the quiet, shy Sally who is not always comfortable in social situations. However, the training process for ministry means that I get to read lots of reports about myself and I have noticed over the years that I have become much more able to accept the lovely things that are written about me (and take on board the areas for development). So the latest report from two people who had never met me before calls me intelligent, warm and very articulate (although there are also times when you might find me tired, grumpy and inarticulate!) and while there is a tiny bit of me that is surprised at this description I also realise that I have grown and matured as a person becoming more confident in who God has created me to be and able to let others see that. This has not always been the case and sometimes I have been really hurt at the way people have misunderstood me or not got me or I have taken on board other’s descriptions of me which are not actually who I am.
We are constantly looking for mirrors to give us some feedback on how we are viewed and therefore some sense of who we are. Other people are at best faulty or cloudy mirrors, and at worst deliberately, distorting mirrors like those found at funfairs. Christians believe that God is the one true mirror who can enable us to see ourselves as we really are, because that is how he sees us. God’s gaze is one of love. He is ‘the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin’ (Exodus 34.6-7). He has made us in his image (Genesis 1.27) and longs for us to reflect fully the life of Jesus Christ, to reach our full potential as his children (John 1.12).
Over the years I have become more aware of my responsibility as a mediating mirror – what do I reflect back to others? What do I say verbally but also non-verbally? I know a weakness is getting distracted and being fully present to another is something I continue to work on. My core message to mediate is God loves you as it says in the mirror in the picture but I also try to be sensitive to what else it might be that God wants to say and to reflect that and also to communicate my own care and concern. I know I don’t always reflect back all that I would hope to but I try to help make the glass a little less dark for others.
Sally Nash (Editor) Youth Ministry: A multi-faceted approach. London: SPCK, 2011, chapter 8.