What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Where does your wandering gaze land?
What emotions rise in your heart?
What thoughts run through your mind?
And where have they come from?
More than likely, they stem from the world you’re immersed in. The people you mix with—face to face and online. The celebrities you follow. The Instagram feeds you scroll through. The Netflix series you binge-watch. All the forms of media that spark comparison and whisper that you’re not enough. Too many times, you’re barely awake before discouragement kicks in. Sometimes even despair.
Please let me tell you a little story from an autumn morning a few weeks back. It might bring some fresh perspective.
There was a wintry chill in the air that day, so I pulled the covers higher on my waist and draped my dressing gown around my shoulders. My eyes, still blurry from sleep, narrowed to slits as I tried to make out the numbers on the clock in our bedroom. It was five past six—early for me. Still, I knew the next precious moments would be worth the sacrificed sleep.
I needed to connect with my Maker before launching into the day.
Yawning, I reached for my Bible and journal in the bedside drawer, trying to sift through the fog in my mind and recall what I’d been reading the day before. It was something so intriguing, I’d wanted to study it further. I opened my Bible, those strange words from the previous morning drifting through my mind like an echo. Grasping the wafer-thin pages in wads, I flipped towards the back till I reached Romans 8, then skimmed down to the verse I was after—number thirty. There, once again, I found the phrase that had me baffled.“. . . those he justified, he also glorified.”
My eyebrows rose as I read this. What on earth did that mean—God glorified us? Weren’t we supposed to glorify Him? There had to be more to this than I could understand.
I opened the lexicon on biblehub– an online tool I’d just discovered that unveils the meaning of words in their original language. Surely in this case ‘glorified’ meant something different to the way we usually understood it. Carefully, I pored over the detailed information the website provided about this confusing statement, taking note of key points and filling pages of my journal with my hurried scrawl. Before long, I was so engrossed, all sense of time and cold faded.
Once I’d finished reading, I slumped back on my pillow, awe-struck.
Here’s what I learned. Those words about us being glorified by God? Their meaning in the original language was exactly the same as usual. God, our creator, glorifies us. And He does it willingly. When we put our faith in Jesus and surrender our lives to God, He doesn’t only forgive us and set us free from our past.
He honours us with dignity and worth.
He exalts us to a rank and condition far beyond what we deserve. That was certainly my story.
He imparts His own spectacular glory to us.
He declares us excellent and glorious,
adorns us with lustre (that’s shininess, in case you wondered)
and clothes us with splendour.
Yes, God glorifies us. Mind-blowing, isn’t it?
I understood this a little. God had lifted me from the depths and given me a whole new life, with dignity and purpose.
But ‘glory’? That was so hard to fathom.
And what about that word, ‘splendour’—so unique and rich in imagery? In the Cambridge dictionary it’s described as ‘great beauty that attracts admiration and attention’. Again, the original language conveys the same meaning. The Hebrew word for splendour relates to ‘beautify’ and ‘glorify’. When God clothes us with splendour, He beautifies us. In that beauty, He glorifies us. That means, even on our frumpiest, very worst hair days, by God’s grace we are clothed with great beauty that attracts admiration and attention. Imagine that!
When we focus solely on the image in our mirror, we are robbed. The pictures we’re swamped with every day narrow our view, convincing us our outward appearance is the only measure of our value. But God made us so much more. And this beauty He gives isn’t something we can attain through our own striving efforts.
It begins in our spirit—where God comes to dwell by His Spirit. As He fills us with His beautiful presence, His splendour wells up and flows out of us . . . so clearly that others see it and marvel.
“Those who look to Him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.”
I stilled my pen and closed my eyes that morning, trying to grasp these ideas in their fullness. A fresh sense of joy welled inside me as my perception of myself grew a little closer to God’s view. Every day, no matter how I look or feel, whether I’m upbeat or melancholy, conquering or struggling, I can walk with dignity, knowing God Himself has clothed me with His splendour. It can be the same for you too—if you put your hope in Him. Regardless of how anyone else may view us, the Creator and ultimate authority says we are His beloved, His treasured possession , wholly accepted.
Who would dare argue with Him?
It’s easy to wonder why we’ve been given such stand-out glory, such splendour. Is it intended to set us strutting, eager for everyone to notice how brightly we’re shining? In reality it’s not only about us.
Look at these words.
“Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendour.”
“Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendour.”
Even while He lavishes so much love and favour on us, God is also looking beyond us to those who don’t yet know Him. He’s pursuing others just as He pursued us, ready to lift them, too, out of their tangle of sin and shame and failure—and He wants our hearts to beat as strongly for them as His does.
We are like a myriad of precious, sparkling jewels—each unique in colour and cut, all reflecting the goodness of God to those around us. The attention and admiration sparked by our splendour is intended to point people to its source—the light—our gracious God.
Next time you stand in front of the mirror, pause and look beyond the outward. God loves you so much He offered His very best to rescue you. He wants to fill you with His goodness and lead you in His eternal purpose. Let that understanding propel you into your day with joy, your eyes looking right to the hearts of people around you, not merely their appearance. As you walk in step with God’s heartbeat, letting His glory shine through you, others will also be stirred to seek Him—the one who leads us into life in all its beautiful fullness.
“She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
Writer and blogger, Susan Brown, has a passion to see people walking in freedom, identity and purpose. Whether in her work as an occupational therapist, raising her four children, speaking to groups or offering learning support to children and teens, her desire has always been to help people thrive. A strong believer in the power of authenticity, Susan often shares her struggles, failures and learnings with others, offering understanding and support as they work through their own challenges. When she’s not writing or working, Susan’s favourite way to relax is to immerse herself in a good story, preferably while reclined in a deep, gently swaying hammock. In her more energetic moments, she plunges herself into gardening, cooking, walking local trails with her husband or playing in the waves at the nearest surf beach. After twenty-five years in Launceston, Tasmania, Susan has recently moved to Wollongong, south of Sydney, where she lives with her husband, Mark, and three of their children. Her memoir Skinny Girl: A Journey Through Anorexia was published in 2021.