Saturday, June 14, 2008

Lies of the Magic Mirror and The Reality of Truth

[This is part three in the blog series regarding the book I’m reading: “Trapped in the Magic Mirror.” If you missed the first two parts, or need to re-read, you can read them by clicking here and here.]

In chapter two of “Trapped in the Magic Mirror,” the author delves further into the differences between fantasy and reality. Of course, as we grow older, we all learn how to tell the difference (mostly!). ;) Sometimes, though, those lines still get blurred. It happens in our quest for that “something more.” We imagine what it will take to fill that void and we do all we can to acquire what we think we’re missing. Even if everything looks perfect from the outside, sometimes, we are still screaming on the inside and we wonder if anyone hears us. Have any of you felt that way before? I know I have!! We all tend to gaze into those “magic mirrors” in order to see and attain what we wish was reality.

The author says: “The magic mirror is a metaphor for the illusions we harbor in our hearts about how life is supposed to be. The voices that speak to us from that mirror are our critical parents, our carnal friends, the media, and our own selfish wills.” Isn’t that the truth!! And, of course, the more we look to those people and things in our mirrors to fulfill our ideals, the more we ensnare ourselves into the “magical thinking” that the author refers to. “Magical thinking” is unrealistic and confusing because it blends fantasy with reality and leads us to make all sorts of bad choices.

My favorite part of this chapter is when she identified the “Five Fatal Falsehoods” as well as the “Fabulous Five” truths!! She said that any or all of the lies could be present. In fact, believing just one can very well be enough to start messing up your thinking and behavior. Indeed, one bad apple really can spoil the whole bunch!! So, here they are as stated in the book:

Five Fatal Falsehoods

1. If I strive to be beautiful, sexually attractive, and successful by the standards of the world, my husband will be entranced by me. This will make me feel good about myself and I will bask in the reflected glory of his love.

2. If my husband really loves me, he will change into the man I need him to be.

3. If my husband doesn’t treat me well, God has forgotten me.

4. If I love others more than I love myself, they will need me. Being needed will make me feel loved. I must always put the needs of others first.

5. If bad things happen to me or if I don’t have the desires of my heart, there must be something wrong with me.

Fabulous Five Truths

1. Your husband cannot make you feel good about yourself if you don’t feel good about yourself already. Only God has the power to make you feel good about yourself. A husband does not have the power to rescue you from the cinders and turn you into a princess. You must bask in God’s reflected glory. If you do not feel beautiful in God’s eyes, you will never feel beautiful in your husband’s eyes.

2. Real love means accepting people as they are, and not expecting any person to change to make you happy. You can pray they will change for their own good, but not for yours.

3. God has not abandoned you, even when your husband doesn’t treat you well. If you turn to God, he can work in the situation for your good.

4. Being needed is not to be confused with being loved. A person exhibiting true love strives to help the other person to be less needy by encouraging individual spiritual and emotional growth. But it dose not mean that you always put the other’s needs first by not treating yourself well. You must love your neighbor (husband, child, etc.) as you love yourself -- not more than you love yourself.

5. God does not give you the desires of your heart unless your heart is fixed on him. He changes your heart to line up with his will. Denying you what you want may be the most loving thing God does for you. God doesn’t reward you for being good by giving you everything you want.

Insightful isn’t it? And, I think those lies and truths apply to so many more areas than just marriage alone! I can personally say that I have identified with every single one of those falsehoods at one point or another in my life. I could give you an example for each of them!! Though, I am glad to have realized the truths that shatter those falsehoods. The truth really does set you free!!

The biggest lie that underlies them all is the lie of “you’re not worthy.” I can vouch for that one as well!! I battled that big lie for a long time until some good Christian prayer warriors prayed over me and the bondage of that lie was broken and I was set free! And, I think I’m only one of the many women in this world that struggles with this lie. We are all told that we have to be beautiful, attractive, successful, alluring, and some kind of super-woman. We think that if we can be all that, everyone will treat us well, our husbands will adore us, and the world will be at our feet and God will just smile down on us and bless us with everything we deserve. But, when all the perfect peaches and cream dreams never materialize, we are left feeling disillusioned and let-down. Then, our devastation gives way to our embracement of that big lie of unworthiness and we go through life feeling self-defeated and invaluable.

These lies are poisonous!! And, the lies end up getting passed down to the next generation as well. The cycle just keeps on repeating and the endless habit of working for everyone else’s affirmation, approval and attention becomes our focus and we become addicted to it. The author says that “measuring our worth by the world’s standards - instead of God’s - is like trying to nourish our bodies on candy. We’re never full, never satisfied, never nourished.”

For our own sakes, and the sakes of our family and loved ones, we have got to stop this cycle!! We got to learn to be content with the beautiful lives God has given each of us rather than dreaming about an ideal fake life (or someone ELSE’S LIFE!) that isn’t ours and will never be ours. It’s time to stop wanting “to be the ultimate desire of a man and the ultimate envy of other women.” It’s time to focus on Christ. He always satisfies. He offers us thirst quenching living water; not "dead water." The more you are satisfied with Him, the less you’ll want and need others to fill in the gap (which they truly can’t fulfill like Jesus can anyways!).

I embrace Jesus as my “Prince.” Like the author says, her husband is not her prince. “He is just a very good husband. Jesus is the only one worthy of the title of Prince.” Amen to that!! Let us forsake our own pursuits of vain perfection. Let us be perfected and fulfilled by Christ!

Chapter Two Questions

1. How do you typically respond when your spouse doesn’t even come close to meeting your expectations?

2. To what extent do your find yourself trying to please people rather than God? Why is this distinction important to recognize?

3. How do you measure your self-worth?

4. Many women believe that if they are just good enough, pray more, and work harder at being a perfect wife that everything will change -- especially their husbands. What is wrong with this belief? Why?

5. When we view our husbands as princes, what kind of pressure does that put on us? On them?

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