“Nobody really knows what they look like. The mirror shows you only what you want to see.”
A few years back, I heard Dr. Ravi Zacharias talk about a Hungarian prisoner of war. I subsequently found an article that sounded like it was about the same man and its opening line was ‘The world’s longest serving prisoner of war…’. The story goes something like this…
“In 1945, at the age of 20, he was captured by the Soviets and incarcerated. After some years of imprisonment, he was believed to have gone insane and, therefore, was transferred to a psychiatric ward in solitary confinement, 300 miles outside of Moscow. In 2000, when the Russians were trying to empty out their prisons and psychiatric wards, they brought a Hungarian psychiatrist to examine this man.
The psychiatrist examined Stamos for a few hours and concluded, “This man is not insane. In fact, it is you who are driving him insane. He is not talking nonsense. Rather, he is speaking a rare dialect of Hungarian.” As soon as he was released, the first thing Stamos asked to see was a mirror. He had not seen himself for 55 years; he had been 20 years old when he last saw his face. Now at 75, he looked at the mirror, put his face in his hands, and sobbed uncontrollably like a little baby, because of what had happened to him. To go through most of life without knowing what you look like is nearly unimaginable to us”
At the time I heard this story, I had a number of issues I was facing in my personal life. I was in a bad relationship – a negative, lonely, toxic one that took a great toll on my spirit and my well being. Many days I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself – the sunken cried out eyes, the weary spirit, the beaten up confidence, the broken heart…
While I am in a relatively better place now, I often wonder how many of us continue to live life losing our very essence. Not realizing that the choices we make or don’t make, shape our lives so deliberately and with such finality that we often wont recognize ourselves after a while. I see people who continue to live in the ties that bind them to fear and sorrow, to loss or to hatred and such other things that consumes them as fast as it envelopes those around them. I see people who bemoan their lost potential while wasting their present, people who regret their choices yet continue to live with them, people who ruin their present but are unwilling to change, people who pity their future but keep heading towards it. The failed relationship, the all consuming job, the lost courage, the broken heart, the burning spite, the wounded ego, the wasted life…the list goes on..
Andras Tomas (or Stamos) in the story above had no choice. He was forced to give up most of his life. Many of us have choices, however hard they may seem and however harsh the consequences, to change our lives for the better. In the prisons of our own minds, we can release ourselves from the expectations and fears and sorrows that are holding us back….For the mirror tomorrow will only show us what we have shown ourselves today…
“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” Ernest Holmes