Mosiah 3:25 — LeGrand Baker — the mirror that reflects the soul
25 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt….”
The context of this scripture has to do with ordinances and covenants, but it is most meaningful to me in quite a different way.
I have seen many productions of Hamlet, but in only two did the actor or director understand the meaning of one critical scene. Hamlet is in his mother’s chamber where they have been discussing the impropriety of her marrying her dead husband’s brother. She has had about enough of her son’s criticism and starts to leave. Hamlet stops her with these words: “You go not till I set you up a glass where you may see the inmost part of you.” She responds, “What wilt thou do, thou wilt not murder me.” In most productions, Hamlet has a knife or a sword in his hand, and he waves it at his mother while he utters his threat. Then her words are a response to his weapon. But twice, I have watched as Hamlet moved to her dressing table and picked up a mirror. Holding the mirror before her face, he says, “You go not till I set you up a glass where you may see the inmost part of you.” She responds to the face in the mirror, “What wilt thou do, thou wilt not murder me.”
A dear friend of mine once described his own encounter with a mirror. He did it in a way so vivid that I’m sure I can repeat some of his words exactly as he spoke them. It was in a testimony meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. (Dil may have been there also, I don’t recall.) Our friend Omar was in his mid-40’s. His oldest children were teenagers, and he and the rest of his family were a relatively new convert to the Church. He was a funny man, with a contagions sense of humor. When he stood to bear his testimony, I suspect everyone in the congregation smiled to themselves, as Im recall I did. We really liked Omar, and we liked that he made us laugh. But he didn’t that day. As well as I can, I am going to write what he said in first person, but I will only put quotes around the words I recall quite clearly. He said:
This morning while I was shaving I looked into the mirror and saw an amazing face. I said, O, Omar, you have come a long way.” You don’t smoke any more, or drink, or shout or swear at the kids, and you even give the Church more money than it asks for. “Omar, you’ve come a long, long way.” I looked down, swished the razor in the running water, then looked back into the mirror again.”O, Omar, I said, You sure have a long, long way to go!
He then bore his testimony about how grateful he was for repentance, and for the Saviour’s atonement which made repentance possible.
I once had a somewhat similar, but not nearly as dramatic, an experience. It was probably about 15 years ago, or so. I had never done anything really bad, but I didn’t seem to be being very perfect either. So one day I prayed and asked the Lord to teach me what I needed to repent of. I was surprised at the impression I felt. If I were to quote it, it would say, “You need to repent of the ‘good’ you do.” I thought that was an extraordinary idea, and quite unlike anything I had expected. So, partly as an exercise in self-justification, I began to notice the good I was doing. I corrected my children so they could do things just my way. I was critical when other people didn’t do what or how they should. I “preached” too much. I was spending a good deal of my energy trying to help other people repent from sins that were not sinful. When I actually did do something worthwhile, I canceled it out by patting myself on the back for having done it. As I became more conscious of my motives, when I was about to insert myself into someone else’s life, I could feel the resentment they would feel if I did so. Then I began to change. In my private conversations, including reading the scriptures, I asked people what they thought, rather than just tell them what I thought. In time, this having to repent of doing “good” caused me to wonder about judgement day. Is it true one has to stand before the Saviour and give a listing of the good one has done? I don’t think so, not quite like that anyway. But if it were true, what would I put on my list? At the rate I was going, now that I not only had to repent of bad things, but of “good” also, I wasn’t accumulating much of a list of accomplishment. Then one day it occurred to me. I didn’t have anything at all I could put on a list of accomplishments which I could present to the Saviour as justification for my even being on this earth — but there was something — not accomplishments — but something very important. If the Saviour were to ask me to give an account of myself, the best I could do would be to tell him about the people — including my family — whom I love — who are my friends. Only in friendship can I find justification for being – and what a blessing – that the thing of greatest worth is the most pleasurable of all.