Earlier this summer I spent a lot of time cleaning bird droppings off of my cars. My car was always frosted in the same place, by the mirrors on the drivers and passenger side doors. As you can imagine I was puzzled and a little perturbed by this mystery until one day I saw a beautiful red cardinal perch on the side of my car to admire himself in the mirror. Over the next month I watched this confused little bird spend most of his day flying from car to car on my street looking into mirrors, pecking his image and leaving behind unfriendly reminders that he was there.
For a moment I wondered if this cardinal had a vanity issue until I realized that this beautiful bird was actually a momma who had made a nest in a tree by our driveway. She was simply protecting her nest from herself. According to www.allaboutbirds.org:
“Many people are perplexed each spring by the sight of a cardinal attacking its reflection in a window, car mirror, or shiny bumper. Both males and females do this, and most often in spring and early summer when they are obsessed with defending their territory against any intruders. Birds may spend hours fighting these intruders without giving up. A few weeks later, as levels of aggressive hormones subside, these attacks should end (though one female kept up this behavior every day or so for six months without stopping).”
While reflecting on this experience it occurred to me that we are really not much different than this momma cardinal. Do we see a friend or foe staring at us in the mirror? How much time do we spend worrying about threats that don’t really exist? Do we spend so much time admiring or attacking the person in the mirror that we leave behind unsightly reminders that we were there (again)? It is impossible to focus on God and others when we are perched in front of the mirror.
So where should our focus be? The Bible says that our focus should be on Christ not on ourselves. Jesus said that prayers of “help me” are much more powerful than prayers of “watch me.” “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14). The apostle Paul said that weakness leads to strength. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Dear Lord, please forgive me when I have spent too much time worrying about the man in the mirror. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that the image that I see looks more like Jesus every day. Help me to taste, hear, smell, feel and see the world like you do. I offer my weakness and helplessness to you. Thank you for revealing yourself and reminding us of your amazing love and perfect holiness every day through your creation.