Most of us had role models as a child. The women who embodied everything we wanted to have/be; whether it was their physical beauty, talent, spirituality, or their inner poise & grace. I certainly did, and I couldn’t wait to grow up and become like them. I looked forward to the day when these beautiful, graceful women would welcome me into glorious womanhood with open arms.
Some of us were blessed to have these women invest in our lives, whilst others of us gleaned by observing how they lived.
However, through the years I have found that there are very few women in the Church who actually want to see, and play a role in, young women rising up. Instead of seeing the younger women as daughters to be mentored, many older women tend to see them as nuisances or competitors.
The warm welcome into womanhood that I envisioned was tainted by what I call the “Mirror, Mirror” syndrome.
Having encountered this nasty syndrome many times, and hearing others tell of the same experience, I started to wonder why the syndrome is so ubiquitous – it can be found everywhere! Why is it pervasive across ages, languages, cultures? Is there a way it can be stopped/prevented?
And the million dollar question: Would I fall prey to this syndrome when I grow old?! *insert shudders and chills*
So this series was birthed.
I am reaching for all the Snow Whites out there, in hopes that we would be conscious in guarding our hearts against the “Mirror, Mirror” syndrome while we are still young and in our prime. That we would grow into true Queens and not Mrs. Evil Stepmother (no way, jose!).
What is the “Mirror, Mirror” syndrome?
Think Snow White and her Stepmother. Mrs. Stepmother was the greatest beauty in all the land, and she’d held that title for a loooong time. But when it came Snow White’s turn to step into her shoes, instead of graciously nurturing/mentoring Snow White in the ways of a good beauty queen, she tried to kill her instead.
This fairytale is a parable of what I have observed of many women in the Church, even the godly ones.
Here are some symptoms of those afflicted with the “mirror, mirror” syndrome:
- They’re always talking about their calling, their ministry, their accomplishments. They are not too interested in anyone else’s accomplishments/calling/ministry… unless it would serve to elevate theirs.
- They have no desire to spend time building up another younger person’s life… unless it elevates themselves.
- They feel threatened when younger women rise up. Especially those who could potentially outshine them.
- They feel that it is their responsibility to put young people in their place.
- They hold tightly to their places of authority/influence, and would put others down to do so.
- They like people who hang on their every word & do exactly as they say, and put up walls to those who challenge them.
- They are open to those who are weak-willed and non-threatening, but shut out those who secure and confident.
- They demand respect of others, while oftentimes giving none in return.
- They are controlling.
- They are attention-seeking.
- They have not been made mature in love.
- They are easily offended.
Why exactly do many start out well, but end not-so-well? We will address this question in the next article: “When Snow White becomes the cruel Stepmother” – key pitfalls and how to guard against them.
Keep a lookout for it, or you can get it delivered straight to your inbox by clicking on the “follow godlywomanhood” button on the right-hand side of this page!
[…] talked about the Mirror, Mirror syndrome and what it looks like. Now let us identify the key pitfalls that turn Snow Whites into […]
Oh! This is good. And convicting. Thank you!
I think I have been lucky in that I haven’t really met any of these women, so far. I have had some encounters with women my own age that were not exactly like this but similar. I just chalk it up to being an immature christian. As people grow in the Lord God has a good way of rooting up old sinful nature. 😉 But yes we all need to guard our hearts and examine them against God’s word. Thanks for the reminder.
Hopefully those who struggle with this will see the joy that comes from helping and loving others before themselves!
Interesting concept! I can’t think of any that I know offhand, but I also don’t have a lot of deep relationships with older women. I do wish I could find a mentor mom, but in keeping up with my preschooler we are just usually surrounded by other preschool families!
This is hard, especially when the person is very close to you. I never realized what was really going on.
WOW! I’ll never think of the story of Snow White the same way again! Really very good thoughts. It makes me want to evaluate myself and how I uplift others instead of self promoting.
Samantha – loved this! I’m so there with you – especially shuddering over the thought of possibly becoming a “stepmother”. I’ve often been blessed by great “queens” in the faith, and pray I might be able to one myself one day… but the fear of the “stepmother” qualities keeps me to myself.
So glad you shared this with Salt & Light – I might not have ever seen it otherwise!
Great post! I have never heard of this “mirror mirror system” but it’s a very interesting concept. It’s easy for women to be threatened by other women or to always be striving to be number one, but the greatest views aren’t always on top!
Your article is one of the most informative and clear on this subject I’ve read yet. Your use of persuasive content and compelling information makes this article pop off the page. I like your style.