Everyday I look into a mirror. Once, twice, if not multiple times a day, but after last week, I will never look at my reflection the same way again.

For five days I was part of a ministry team that deep cleaned apartments for struggling families in transition. Yolanda, a single mom of two boys, was one of the residents, and while we were there, I never saw her smile. Her countenance couldn’t mask the burdens she bore and my heart ached to ease her load.

As we scrubbed and scraped, poured and polished, we prayed specific coverings over each of her rooms. We prayed over the family room and bedroom. For the kitchen, I prayed for the meals that would be prepared, the souls that would be fed, the conversations that would occur around the table.

But I never thought to pray over the hallway mirror.

I came the following day to fix a broken window, and I noticed she’d taken a black industrial sized trash bag we’d been using, ripped it apart, and hung it over the mirror so there was no reflection.

I couldn’t shake the visual. My mind strayed to a number of possibilities for why it was there. A religious conviction? Maybe her faith doesn’t allow mirrors. That must be it. Please may that be it.

In that moment, the Holy Spirit whispered in my heart, “Don’t let this opportunity slip by. Talk to her.” I wanted to leave, because let’s be honest, there’s no easy way to inquire about a hanging garbage bag, but instead I asked her, “Yolanda, when I cleaned yesterday, I noticed the mirror is the first thing that greets you. Did it startle you too? Is that why you covered it?”

Her head dropped with an alarming sigh. She wouldn’t look up. Finally, after an awkward pause, she replied, “No, that’s not it. I can’t do mirrors. I can’t look in them right now.”

There, Jen. She answered your question. She can’t do mirrors. Don’t push her. Wish her a good day and leave. But as I tried to convince myself that’s what she wanted, I couldn’t leave. 

“Yolanda, I’m asking all the residents if there are specific requests for which I can pray. Do you have something I can pray for?”

While the other residents listed tangible needs — childcare, car, a place to live, a job — she choked out two words, “Peace and forgiveness.”

The weight of her request lay heavily on me. How many times had I uttered the same words?

“Yolanda, I don’t know your story, but I know the One who does. He loves you more than you will ever know. He is the One who heals the brokenhearted and sets each of us free from our sin and shame. He rights our wrongs because nothing any of us have done is too big for Him. He can handle it. I know this to be true. He is the only source of true and lasting peace. He will grant it because He is the mighty God of second chances, of miracles, of restoration and He desires freedom for you.”

I glanced at the garbage bag, and everything in me wanted to tear it down, to peel back any bondage it represented. I could barely continue through my tears because as I spoke each truth, they weren’t only for Yolanda; they were for me too.

Some mirrors marred by sin and shame magnify the lie that our past dictates our future. Other mirrors compare us to others, each distortion carefully curated by the deceiver. We struggle to know what’s truth because the lies seem so believable.

So this week I’m starting my day with something new. I’m looking into my mirror and confidently declaring truth: “I am an image bearer of Christ. I know the truth, and it has set me free.”

Won’t you join me each morning this week? When we remove the garbage bag from our own mirror, here’s what that sparkling clean image declares about who we are in Christ:

I am God’s child. (John 1:12)
I have been redeemed and forgiven. (Colossians 1:14)
I am a saint. (Ephesians 1:1)
I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39)
I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14)
I am God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)

This list is only a start. You are loved, accepted, secure, significant, and free in Christ.

What does your mirror tell you right now? I’d love to pray for you too.

(First posted over at (in)courage where many women shared their heart in the comments.)