The Mirror

“If you do not like the image in the mirror, do not break the mirror, break your face.” – Persian poem

I am increasingly convinced that I will not be happy if my life is about the American dream. To be honest, the thought of a white picket fence and a steady job is somewhat terrifying (not to mention a husband and kids with no desire to move beyond their city, much less their country, which is something that seems inevitably attached to the West’s perception of a stable, wealthy life). I knew this a bit before I studied abroad, but since I came back I’m struck again and again with the feeling that this is a haven, a stop, and I really belong somewhere else.

I’m terrified that the monotony, the obsession with one’s self that pervades American culture, the lukewarm contentment and deep dissatisfaction will lull over me. I’m terrified that one day I’ll look in the mirror and see someone who doesn’t care enough to even be aware of another’s suffering.

I started crying today when reading about children in Afghanistan. I longed to coax a smile out of just one child again, to tease that old look out of their eyes and make them grin.

I want to be the sort of person who brings God’s love and healing to hard places even if she has to break her face to do it.

I remember talking to a dear friend (Anne of Green Gables would say a “bosom friend”) Suzanne during my sophomore year. We were both interested in international work, and one particular day we met for a meal to talk about our pasts and dreams. As I reached the climax of my passion to do work that will help those in the most war torn areas of the world, I stopped and laughed. “I can’t explain it,” I said. “A lot of people don’t get it. But I’ve got to go.

Suzanne beamed. “I know exactly what you mean.”

Something funny about it is that when I’m reading the Bible steadily (a habit I admit I fall in and out of), the desire is fired into a flame. I can’t, can’t, can’t stay here. I long to be graduated and gone, to be with these people. I don’t know what context that will be. I don’t know where in the world I’ll be. But I’ve got to do it.

I know it’s not that simple. It’s not romantic. But I’m 22. I have time to grow, to learn, to experience.

Until then, I’ll be training my heart and head and checking the mirror.


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