I looked in the mirror this afternoon, and I saw a tired, disheveled, middle-aged woman. My head cold has reddened my nose and dried out my lips. The freezing wind had wrecked havoc on my once neatly combed hair. My eyes droop with fatigue. I focused upon my subtle sags, fine lines and wrinkles. I saw the greys starting to peek through my Clairol. My pearly whites have been darkened by coffee, a seemingly necessary jump-start for my hectic mornings. I saw the pudge where my flat stomach used to be. I’m worn out, and I look it!
Why is it that us women look at ourselves so critically? Does the rest of the world see us in the same way? How does God see us?
This tired old body of mine has run a marathon of activity today. I’ve cared for children, fixed breakfast, taught six classes, held an extra curricular student council meeting, stopped by the grocery to get snack for my six-year olds class tomorrow, dropped by the post office for stamps, took myself to the doctor, did a load of laundry, cooked dinner and washed dishes. Next, I’m off to help with homework, baths, and bedtime rituals. What do I expect of this forty something year old skeleton, muscles and skin? Why can’t I be kinder to myself, and look less harshly at the facade in the mirror?
When I think of truly beautiful women, Mother Theresa comes to mind. Though her frame was stooped and her face deeply wrinkled in her old age, she exuded a joy and a beauty from within – one that seemed to transcend any purely physical appearance.
I want to age with grace, naturally, as God intended. I want to be able to count the gray hair and bulges as badges of good parenting and a life well lived.
A student of mine asked me if we will appear the age at which we died when we go to heaven. I told the child that I didn’t know, but that I hoped God would take a few years off – maybe allow me to rewind to 35 – when I was in my prime. I surmise, however, that this self-criticism is but an earthly phenomenon. I bet that when we behold the face of God, who loves us completely and accepts us as we are, we will no longer be preoccupied by our wrinkles and sags. It just won’t matter any more. It will be heavenly bliss!