Mirror Image

Some things just mess with my brain.  I’m not the only one.


I know.  It’s a foolish name, but it is what we call them.  We want to see pictures, so friends snap photos of themselves, often while looking in a mirror.

One begins to wish there weren’t so many mirrors in bathrooms.  I can’t help it.  It’s my first reaction when I see the photographs.

The second is more enigmatic to me.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is always something that bothers me about the selfies taken in the mirror.

Things aren’t quite as they should be.  Men’s shirt pockets are on the right-hand side.  Belts are threaded through the loops the wrong direction.  Oh!  And most folks are holding their phones in their left hand, but I know most folks are right-handed.

It’s all backward.  Mirror images are oriented in a flipped position.  Sure, the person still looks like him/herself, but the little niggling details irritate me.

But, truth be told, I didn’t invite you to sit down and read about my pet peeves.  There are more important issues to deal with here.

But, I do want to talk about mirror images.

Certain tasks—essential ones—have to be accomplished using mirror images.  I know it seems strange, but it is a fact.

Just the other day, my patient brother-in-law spent some time explaining it to me—one of those tasks.  I hope he’s not disappointed by what I have to say here.

The Lovely Lady has completed the painting job she began a few weeks ago.  The new ceiling in the living/dining room area has several coats of bright white paint.  The walls are covered in a beautiful contrasting color.  But, right up in the corner where the two come together at a ninety degree (or a close approximation of it) angle, we need to tack up a crown molding.

I say we.  I mean I.  I need to tack up a crown molding.

It’s very simple, Paul.  You take the measurements and then cut the trim pieces.  Upside down.  You have to put them in the saw upside down to get the cut and the angle right.  

On inside corners, the long end is the bottom, so it’s the top end when you put it in the saw.  It’s really easy.  You’ll have no problem.  Just flip it upside down.  Oh.  And, don’t forget to angle your saw in the opposite direction.

I haven’t cut a single piece.  I may not cut a single piece.

A couple of days ago, while I was looking for excuses not to start that particular job, I conveniently remembered a plumbing job I needed to do under the kitchen sink.

Ah.  Here is something I can do.  What can be hard about screwing a shut-off valve onto the end of a threaded pipe?

Remember.  Righty-tighty—lefty-loosey.  It’s so simple!

There would be more to it on this day.

When I worked on the plumbing originally, we had no plans for a dishwasher, so I needed two shut-offs—one hot and one cold.  This job would require adding another hot water shut-off for the newly arrived dishwasher.  No sweat.  Add a tee and attach two shut-offs.

I had turned the water off at the meter out near the street and had reconfigured the tee and valves.  Now all that was left was to check for leaks.  It was a perfect job for the Lovely Lady.  Our son had stopped by to check on our progress, but he wasn’t dressed for under-the-sink.  His part would be to keep an open line with me on his cell phone—just in case.

Just put your head under here, Dear.  Watch those two valves and the pipe near the new tee and see if they leak.  If you see any drips, have him (pointing to our son) tell me immediately.  Oh.  Make sure you look to see where it’s leaking before I turn the water back off.

Contingency plans in place and cell phone in hand, I went out to turn on the water supply.  It didn’t take long.

Dad!  There’s a lot of water coming out!

I stayed calm.

Make sure she knows where it’s coming from.  I have to know where it needs to be tightened.

There was no hesitation on his part.

No.  It’s a lot, Dad!  Really.  A lot.  She knows where it’s coming from!

I turned the water supply back off.

The Lovely Lady was soaked.  Really wet.  And, not all that happy.

I had left one of the shut-off valves completely open.  Turned on all the way.  In the contained space of the cabinet, the stream ricocheted off the wall it was aimed at and splattered everything under there.  She was under there.

How could such a thing happen?  I followed the righty-tighty, lefty-loosey rule.  I did.

I had, from my place near the new tee just installed, reached along to the end of the pipe, nearly a foot on and turned the shut-off to the right to close it.

How could that not have been clos. . .Oh!  I was reaching from the underside of the valve!  To the right from underneath the valve would have been left if I had been in the correct position looking from the top side.

I had turned the valve open all the way myself.  She was soaked and I was to blame.

Mirror image.

Later, that problem rectified, and a few other minor drips eliminated, I finished up by plumbing the drains on the new sink, too.  It was time to test it all out.

I turned on the cold water tap.  Voila!  Water rushed out and down the drain.  There was not a single drip!

But, as I reached over to turn off the tap, I realized something odd was going on.  The water—the cold water—was hot.  Really hot.

Backward.  I had them backward.

No, not the feeds to the sink.  I had actually extended the cold water line to go to the dishwasher.  It only needs a hot water line.  It won’t work with cold water at all.

When I had planned the day’s project, I had access to the back of the bathroom wall, so carefully  I selected the line I was to extend from there.  Everyone knows the hot water is on the left of the faucet.  I picked the one on the left and added the tee and additional shut-off valve to that one.

Mirror image.

It wasn’t a great day.  I might as well have been tacking up crown molding.


The apostle, my namesake, knew about mirror images.  He said life now is just like trying to see with a bad mirror.  Now, he says, we see dimly through the mirror, the details jumbled and sometimes confusing.

Boy, do I get that!  I turn one way when I should turn another.  I flip the switch on the right when I needed the one on the left.

I wonder if I’m the only one?

Oh but, the day is coming!  Twenty-twenty vision!  We’ll see everything exactly as it is.  We’ll see our Savior and know His perfect plan.

One day.

No more will we live life through the looking glass.  No more hot when we wanted cold.  No more confusion, no more wondering.

On the day we get up and take that short journey around to the other side, the side on which He’s waiting for us, it will come sharply into focus.

He sees it all clearly, right now.  He’ll show us the way if we’re willing to listen.

He sees it all clearly, right now. He'll show us the way. Right now. Click To Tweet

Too often, I think I know all the facts.  Too often, I take situations into my own hands.

But, I’m learning the things I want aren’t always what He has planned.  I’m even realizing the things I’ve come to think of as His blessings are sometimes simply chains that keep me from what He really wants for me.

I don’t do that well with mirror images.

It’s time to surrender the job to the Master Craftsman.

I’m ready.  Perhaps, the Lovely Lady will appreciate the change, too.  It might be drier for her on the other side.

It’s His mirror.

I want to see through His eyes.



Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 ~ NLTHoly Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.  All rights reserved.)


I’ve looked at life from both sides now 
From win and lose and still somehow 
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.
(Both Sides Now ~ Joni Mitchell ~ Canadian singer/songwriter ~ © 1967 Gandalf Publishing Co ~ All rights reserved)





© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

One thought on “Mirror Image

  1. Been there, done that – well, not the plumbing job, but sure have gotten confused with those “mirror images” in life. Your namesake was so right when he said we now see through a glass darkly, but will one day see as God does.
    And tell the Lovely Lady I’m so sorry she got soaked! I don’t know if I’d be so gracious if this happened to me.
    Blessings, Paul, and thanks for stopping by my blog today!

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