It’s mid-morning, after a cup of coffee, but I haven’t eaten yet.
The kids are at school and I am heading out to the studio to paint. I catch John in the kitchen and start telling him something. I see his face squinch up. I’m about to ask him what the problem is and he says, “Ugh. Your breath stinks. You need to go to the dentist!”
I stand there for a second in amazement and realize I'm going to cry. I’m embarrassed that his rude comment is bringing me to tears, so I turn in a hurry and run upstairs to my room. By the time I flop into my chair, my face is wet.
The Power of Words: The Negative Impact of John's Comment
I feel incredible shame. I’m ashamed my breath stinks and I’m ashamed that I’m crying about it.
I can't figure out why I’m so crushed. Why does it hurt so bad? What is wrong with me? My mind starts to replay what just happened and I’m thinking my breath probably does stink. I hadn’t eaten and had drunk coffee. John’s breath probably stunk too. I think I have even told him that in the past, but I didn't see him run off crying! God—why am I such a sniffly, emotional woman? Why do I let John define me and allow this little comment to hurt me so bad?
A Divine Message of Love and Reassurance
Just then I hear, from inside my bruised heart, God whisper: “Read Song of Songs 4:2”.
I look it up and it reads, “How beautiful you are my darling, Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn sheep which have come up from their washing, all of which bears a twin, and not one among them has lost her young.”
I am stunned! First, that I actually heard God speak to me—I barely know that poem and random verses don't just pop in my head like that. Second, how boldly God just reassured me and pampered me with love. I expect if God were to give me his opinion of my breath it would have be, “Yeah, it stinks a little. But stop crying about it, sheesh!” How beautiful that my teeth are like shorn sheep fresh up from the washing! It’s true none have lost their young. I’m not missing any teeth!
Letting Go of the Need for External Validation
This precious moment, years ago, changed me forever. I no longer needed John. I didn't need him to validate me, approve of me, or define me. He didn't complete me or fill some empty place in me. His words didn't make or break me and my identity didn't rely on him.
John is flawed like me; he doesn't have the power or authority to break my heart or crush my spirit. I want John. I choose him. I enjoy being with him and we are building a life and destiny together.
I don't want my words to have power over him, either. I want to be free to say something when I’m having a bad day and not destroy his self image over it. If John’s breath stinks, I want the freedom to tell him so.
That day I changed.
Discovering a Reflection of Radiance, Beauty, and Love
I looked to God to be my mirror and not a flawed person.
The poem goes on to say, “Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely... Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate behind your veil.” He says my cheeks are like the redness of a sliced pomegranate, flushed with emotion, and he finds it beautiful.
My dad didn't like it when I was emotional or cried. There wasn't freedom for those things. He certainly didn't find it beautiful. John gets awkward and feels responsible when I cry or get emotional. But God holds my face, looks deeply into my eyes, and beams. The raw passion of my emotions, the trueness and innocence of it, he finds incredibly and ravishingly beautiful.
This is the mirror I look into.
When you look into the mirror, what do you see? Do you see beauty, love, and worthiness staring back at you?