Odds are pretty good that you have a few mirrors in your house. They are used to safely shave, put in contact lenses, or carefully apply makeup. You may stop to take a quick looking into one before walking out the door. Mirrors are useful to see if you hair is in place, your tie is straight, your lipstick is evenly applied, or if you have spinach between your teeth. Unless you’re in a carnival funhouse mirrors are uncompromisingly and sometimes brutally honest. The reflection you see is an identical image of you with the exception that left is right and right is left.
You may not always like what you see in the mirror, but the mirror’s integrity does give you a chance to make a change. If you hair is mussed, you can brush or comb it. If you have something between your teeth, you can remove it. If you have a pimple in the middle of your forehead, well, sorry … some things just are what they are.
What if we had mirrors that could reveal our souls? Would we dare to look? Or would we remove every soul-mirror from our homes in order to avoid the disturbing truth we might see? If we did look, would we take corrective actions based on what we saw?
Soul-searching is defined as “a penetrating examination of one’s motives, convictions, and attitudes.” It is like using a mirror to check out the health and well-being of our souls. I have a feeling that most of us avoid this kind of deep introspection like vegans avoid McDonalds. When we do take time to pause and reflect, we may discover that anger, bitterness, and resentment have taken up residence in our hearts. We may find that we have a closet partially filled with unconfessed sins and lingering guilt.
Once we have seen what lays hidden deep within, we have a choice. We can walk away and pretend we didn’t see it (picture Sergeant Shultz on Hogan’s Heroes – “I see nothing!”), or we can honestly and intentionally deal with what we have found. One choice accomplishes nothing; the other may be uncomfortable and even painful but it will lead to healing, wholeness, and eventually to peace and contentment.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” How does the Christian honestly examine his or her life? Here are a few suggestions:
(1) Read God’s Word regularly. His Word, in fact, becomes the mirror for us.
(2) Pray daily. In doing so, take time to linger rather than rushing through a list.
(3) Set aside some time weekly to think honestly about life. Don’t lie to yourself.
(4) Give trusted Christian friends permission to give you honest feedback…and listen to them!
(5) Read autobiographies and biographies of Christians you admire.
(6) Commit to change one big thing in your life. If you try too much you will be overwhelmed and become discouraged.
(7) Schedule extended times or retreats in your schedule for soul-searching.