Oddly, I didn’t see myself as a suicidal nineteen-year-old girl standing in front of the bathroom mirror with a gun to her own head. I saw myself as a slave, standing before her god, with one last command to fulfill before being granted her freedom.
Even though I had never heard of anyone committing suicide standing in front of a mirror, I knew that I had to. I wanted it to see me.
Part of me wanted the mirror to see my last act of obedience, my admission that it was right, that I would never be what I wanted – needed – to be. But part of me stood in front of that mirror in defiance, laughing in its face as I wrenched free from its authority. Because if I was dead it couldn’t control me, could it? I allowed myself a grim smile at the thought. I literally had my own destiny wrapped around my finger in the form of a metal trigger.
Finally, I was the one in control.
I didn’t care what the mirror-god thought any more, I told myself. I didn’t care if the mirror-god said that even after months of working out my abs weren’t flat enough, or that after years of braces and retainers my teeth weren’t straight enough, or that no amount of makeup could conceal my acne. I didn’t care. I was the one in control now, and I was taking my freedom back by force.
Reminding myself of all the things the mirror had said to me over the years had been a big mistake. As I stood there remembering, it started speaking again.
You’re not really doing this out of defiance, it said, you’re doing it out of desperation. You don’t have the guts to do it out of defiance – see? Look how pale and scared you are.
I scanned my reflection. I was pale. Very pale. With a complexion as pale as mine was to begin with, the paleness brought on by anxiety reduced me to looking like something between a marshmallow and a cave fish.
You’re too scared to do it, the mirror said, way too scared. Just look and see.
That was it. I wasn’t listening to that mirror’s sneering voice any more.
I had gradually been lowering the gun as the mirror tried to intimidate me. Now I jerked it back up so fast that I accidentally cracked my temple with the end of the barrel. My ears rang and my vision blurred – only momentarily, but in that moment I heard a voice from somewhere whisper three words.
Not of works.
I paused. Not of works? What was that supposed to mean? It didn’t make any sense; and anyway, the mirror’s voice was enough to deal with – I didn’t need any others telling me what to do.
I shook my throbbing head and tried to restore my previous concentration, but the new voice kept talking.
By grace … through faith … not of works.
I rolled my eyes in frustration. If I had to listen to this new voice it should at least talk straight. Like the mirror. The mirror never minced words, never spoke in riddles. It was always straight talk: “Not good enough. Period. Plain and simple.”
Come to think of it, that was all the mirror had ever said – “Not good enough.”
But that was why I had to do this, I reminded myself. I had to show the mirror that I didn’t care what it thought any more. It couldn’t make me work to please it any more. I was going to show it that I didn’t care that I wasn’t good enough to make it happy.
My grace is sufficient.
This time the voice caught my attention. Sufficient. It had said the word sufficient – enough.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, replaying that word in my mind. Enough. That was all I had ever wanted – just enough.
That was how I had ended up as a slave to the mirror: it promised enough. It told me that braces would be enough to give me a great smile; a different haircut would frame my face and make me look beautiful; working out for two hours a day would be enough to give me a great body. And I did everything it said only for it to find something else wrong with me, something else that I had to change or fix.
All at once something ‘clicked’ in my head. I stared in horror at the mirror as I realized that it wasn’t really concerned with my looks – it just wanted to keep me unhappy so that it could control me. It had lied to me.
As if reading my thoughts, the mirror started speaking again: “It doesn’t matter. You’ll never be good enough. Never. Nothing you do will ever be good enough.”
It continued spewing its same tired lines at me as I slowly turned the gun away from my head and aimed it at my reflection.
By grace are you saved, through faith, the Silent Voice thundered from all around me as I glared down the pistol at the mirror. By grace are you saved, through faith…
“Not by my works!” I shouted as I jerked the trigger.
In the close confines of the bathroom the gunshot was deafening, but not so deafening that I couldn’t hear the sound of the mirror exploding. Part of it fell off of the wall and crashed onto the counter and into the sink, but most of it stayed up, where I could see the beautiful spider web of cracks running through it. in the center of the web was the hole – a black hole that had bored through the mirror, the dry wall, and into a beam, where I assumed it had stopped.
As I stared at the bullet hole – the hole I had originally intended to put through my head – my vision suddenly spun and my knees buckled. My hand went limp and the gun thudded onto the floor as I sank down against the wall.
I laid there in the bathroom floor, too exhausted to move. After a moment I felt a Presence surrounding me … holding me … filling me.
“My grace is sufficient,” It whispered.
I smiled. I had escaped the clutches of one god only to fall captive to another. But that was okay. Somehow I knew that this God would never lead me on a string of “just one more…” promises. This God would never sneer or mock at my attempts at obedience. This God would love me.
I could never do enough to earn His love – but then, that was His entire point.