Happy New Year! At our house we are coming off a much-needed, longed-for, soaked-up, two-week break. When I say “break” I mean a break from our normal schedules. We used our “break” to complete our second annual spring-cleaning-in-the-winter event. During this family affair, a lot the household chores that don’t seem to get themselves accomplished during the year finally get tackled and knocked out.
Our break wasn’t all drudgery, however. We agreed to call it quits each day around 4:00 and shift gears. We dedicated our evenings to family time: dinners together, playing games, reading books, or watching movies. It was wonderful to have a break from our evening commitments and just be at home.
As many of you know, our family has been reading through the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling for the last couple of years. I read aloud on the evenings when we can all be together, and we are now about halfway through the seventh and final book. Last week we decided to conduct an HP movie marathon, watching one movie each night, as a way to get all the details of the stories straight before we finish it off. So, after our toddler is down for the night, it’s been all about HP at our house.
Some excellent conversations have occurred in our family over the years of reading about Harry. During our marathon last week, I was reminded of one that impacted us all from the very first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:
In a forgotten classroom of his school, Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised, a magical mirror which reveals “the deepest most desperate desire” of a person’s heart. It’s not surprising what Harry sees in the mirror. Orphaned as a baby, Harry sees the family he has never known. The warm smile of his mother, his father’s friendly face, even the nods and waves of his extended family… Harry drinks it all in hungrily.
Harry feels a powerful draw toward the Mirror of Erised, sneaking out of his dormitory night after night to sit before it and gaze at his family. Dumbledore, Harry’s headmaster and mentor, puts a stop to Harry’s growing addiction to the mirror’s image. He moves the mirror and encourages Harry not to try to find it, explaining that many have gone mad before it, “not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.” Dumbledore goes on to reveal, however, that not everyone is susceptible to the mirror’s charms. “The happiest man on earth, “ he explains, “would be able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror, that is, he would look into it and see himself exactly as he is.”
So we asked ourselves that night after closing the book, “What would you see in the Mirror of Erised?” Our answers varied as we tried to be honest about the deep longings of our hearts: a crowd of people applauding us, being the star of the show or the game, a friendly huddle of family and friends who have reconciled all their differences. We all felt the mirror’s pull.
The deceitful charm of our deep desires is that they seem irresistible, but actually, they don’t do the trick. They don’t satisfy us, really. Any of us who has actually gotten what she desires knows that soon the euphoria wears off and the gnawing want is still there, shifting its focus to something new. So often the stuff we want just leaves us wanting more. As Dumbledore muses to Harry at the end of the story, “the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.” The truth is that apart from Jesus, nothing works. Nothing satisfies.
As I’ve thought about it since, however, I’ve realized that, as believers, we all could be like the happiest person in the world, seeing ourselves in the mirror exactly as we are. If we are in Christ, the deepest desires of our hearts have been met in the gospel. We don’t need anything else. We don’t need other people’s applause or approval. We can be at rest in what Christ has accomplished for us. He has set us free, giving us unconditional love and a secure future with him. We can rest content.
When I get up in the morning and look in the mirror, it might be worth pretending to look in the Mirror of Erised. What do I see today? What am I worshiping? Am I believing the lie that there is something else out there that I need to make me happy? Or am I seeing myself exactly as I am, complete in Christ, believing the truth that the deepest desires of my heart are met in Jesus?
What do you see in the mirror?