It’s called mirroring. It happens in a variety of ways. It has been called the “social glue” in human relationships. When we are interested in another human being, we subconsciously mirror or match another person’s movements. We match facial expressions, body language, speech patterns or even attitudes. Mirroring must be hard wired in us because tiny infants will do it too. They will scowl if you do, smile if you do, look surprised if you do. I could spend forever making matching faces with a baby.
It is one of the reasons we need support or accountability groups when we are fighting an addiction or trying to do something difficult like eat healthy or push ourselves to a new level of exercise. We tend to do what others are doing and hanging out with those who are committed to making the same choices matters. We mirror one another’s behaviors.
Did you know mirroring even has a spiritual component? Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, writes about this in his book The Divine Dance. He writes that part of the task of being a person of faith is to look at things a second time, to actually re-spect or re-inspect something. The first time we see something or someone we lack this respect but when you look a second time, and really set your gaze, you become a part of what you are looking at. He writes, We know things in their depth and beauty only by this second gaze of love.
Paul said it too, we are gradually turned into the image we reflect. The Message translation of 2 Corinthians 3:18: ...our faces shine with the brightness of God…our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like God. Mirroring. We become what we gaze at.
So, in this pandemic season of fear, anxiety and uncertainty coupled with this election time of fear, anxiety, division and uncertainty, what are you looking at?
Is it Facebook, Twitter, 24/7 Cable News? Is it the face over and over of the candidate you dislike? Or the memes that make fun of others? Are you glaring at your neighbors who have a different sign in their yard? Are you pouring over the daily Covid cases and wringing your hands? What are you looking at?
We become what we gaze at. We are hardwired to mirror each other. My husband keeps reminding me that organizations take on the characteristics of their leaders. I guess this is mirroring at its best, for good or for bad. What/who are you looking at? What is that mirroring doing to your face, your heart, your soul, your behavior?
It takes 21 days to create a new habit. What if, for the next 21 days, we intentionally shift our gaze to that which is positive and lifegiving? A sunrise or sunset? The changing colors of fall in nature? A pumpkin and some chrysanthemums? A baby’s face? The face of God? The faces of our loved ones? The Word of God?
God, help us in this season to be mindful of what we look at. We want to reflect you. Amen
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and one on the way. Go to http://www.drcindyranblog.com to read other blog entries, see sermons, upcoming speaking events, learn about the weekly Jesus Calling Prayer Call she co-hosts live each Tuesday morning or to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle. The November Top Ten list will give you a glimpse into a one calorie a day diet for November. Sign up by 10-30 to receive it.