What you see every day can have a direct effect on how you see yourself. Your bathroom mirror isn’t the only mirror you look at each day. For many teens, the Internet, TV shows, fashion magazines, and peer pressure are the “mirrors” they view every day. These “mirrors” reflect back the prevailing images of beauty. Many teens dream of being on reality shows like America’s Next Top Model, where unknown girls learn to be runway models. Not only that, televised beauty pageants highlight the faces of beauty. But the standards of beauty are in a constant state of flux. Don’t believe it? Take a look at magazine covers or photos of models or movie stars over the last sixty years, and you can see the changes. Models and actresses are getting thinner and thinner.
Media coverage—that includes social media—has a huge effect on how preteens and teens view their bodies. The search for beauty has caused some teens to get breast implants, go on drastic diets, and do other things to fit the standard of beauty.
Beauty is more than how you look. Beauty is in how you accept others for who they are—like Jesus. It comes from inside no matter what the image in the mirror suggests or what society dictates. And when you accept how beautiful you are inside, you can’t help seeing the beauty in others. Are you willing to do whatever you can to help bring out the beauty in others?
Another “mirror” teens face is the pressure to succeed. Many schools emphasize test scores as the mirror by which your success is measured. School itself can be a pressure cooker, with grades, homework demands, and extracurricular activities. Added to the stress is the desire some have to be popular—another way of “succeeding.” Still others aren’t as concerned with success as they are with survival. They simply want the nightmare of being bullied to end.
With so much pressure, some teens try to release the pressure any way they can—even self-injuring ways (cutting, burning the skin, sticking objects into one’s skin). Some claim they feel a sense of “relief” rather than pain.
Can you see yourself or someone you know in this mirror? Perhaps the emotional pain is so great, you don’t see any way out. But there is. It takes courage and hard work to get the help desperately needed.
Mirrors can only reflect. They can’t show you a different view. Maybe it’s time for a better view. Ever walk by a window only to be stunned by the beautiful view? That’s why many people use the phrase window of opportunity. It is a positive, hopeful image. I invite you now to take a look out of a window and see a beautiful sight: the Savior.
A window to the Savior
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote a profile of someone who suffered greatly.
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”—Isaiah 53:2–5
This Savior is Jesus. But reread the second verse again: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Imagine that. Yet we know that Jesus did not look into mirrors and submit to anxiety over His appearance. No, He looked out through the windows of compassion and saw each new day as an opportunity to lift someone, to heal someone, to lead someone back to a closer relationship with God, the Father.
Jesus was mistreated and rejected while on earth—just as the above passage in Isaiah promised. He faced every kind of hurt. He was human like us, but God unlike us. He faced the horror of the cross for all of us.
Because of that, He invites you to come to Him with your worst fear or pain. You don’t need to wait for an Evite. Once we get to know Jesus, He gives us the power to exchange our self-gratifying mirrors for windows that allow us to see the needs of others the way Jesus did. Are you willing to turn from the mirror and face a hurting world?