She sways back and forth to the music, not a care in the world and showing very little interest in whether or not anybody's watching. This moment is between her and the beat. She's free and electric; not one second of her 70 years is a match for the energy that pours from her every move. I catch myself staring and forget my own steps in wonder. I smile in spite of myself and decide that I want to be just like her "when I grow up".
After class, we stand side-by-side in the mirror as we prepare for our day. She's beautiful and open, generous with her smiles. She applies lipstick and asks about my boys. I swipe tinted SPF across my cheek and nonchalantly inquire about her plans. She glances at the jar in my hand and says, "You know, not all youth is seen as so desirable, I don't think. There are cultures that believe a person's face is much more interesting when they're older; that lines reflect how they've lived their lives..."
How is it that we're standing here...manufacturing faces? What happens that the dance is washed right out of our hair? That the wind is combed away with calculated strokes. Every amber kiss of sun, grimace of effort, and furrow of concentration. Erased. Every smile's trace, wink of the eye, or tear's valley. Gone. With one application of colored product in a tube or needle injected into the skin. Or so we try.
What would I do if there were no mirrors? If I had no concept of comparison? What would you do?
I'd let the warmth of the sun be my sweater, and the ocean, my perfume. I'd want my laugh to ring sweet as music in my children's ears as they remembered me, heart joyfully accessible and unrestrained by scrutiny. I'd want my husband to recall the lovely bride of his youth, but to relish in the memories we've made together; the ones God will etch into my skin throughout our years.
So, Sure. I want to be beautiful and confident. But more deeply, I long to be interesting. And fearless. Adventurous. And steadfast in His love. I want to spend less time in somebody else's book and more time creating a narrative my children would want to read. You are beautiful too, brave one, and it's your God-story that will change the world...one generation and act of self-acceptance at a time. How is your novel going to read?
"He has made every thing beautiful in His time..." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
“I’m not interested in being perfect when I'm older. I'm interested in having a narrative. It’s the narrative that’s really the most beautiful thing about women.” Jodi Foster
"There's this youth culture that is really, really powerful and really, really strong, but what it does is it really discards people once they reach a certain age. I actually think that people are so powerful and interesting - women, especially - when they reach my age. We've got so much to say, but popular culture is so reductive that we just talk about whether we've got wrinkles, or whether we've put on weight or lost weight, or whether we've changed our hair style. I just find that so shallow." Annie Lennox
Photo credits: Sunset Girl, Louis Moncouyoux, and Forrest Cavale of Unsplash
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.