I wake at six o’clock most days to drag tired legs across the bedroom carpet, feet angry at the shock of chilly bathroom tiles as I push through the threshold. I take my position at the sink, hair wild and pillow lines stamped onto my face. I squint to inspect hazy features in the mirror, bracing for additional cold as I ease my hands under the running water.
As I stumble through the beginnings of my routine, I can’t help but to notice that my family has followed me into the bathroom. You see, I’m wearing my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes this morning. Even my pajamas are fitting a little differently these days. My body has softened into the curves of my grandmother since "thirty" arrived.
So, here they are, my family, all of them dangling from somewhere or another on my form. Some days I’m thrilled with hand-me-downs, while others I’ve found myself cursing certain attributes beneath my breath. As women, we examine one another and point out likeness. We make casual comments like, “Wow! You look so much like your Mom,” or “There's no denying those kids!”
We say these things matter-of-factly and often in appreciation, but somehow, beneath the offhanded remarks, the meaning can run deep.
Features can be more than just features, can’t they? Meaning and memories are often what we respond to as we look into the mirror. How do we accept ourselves when our grandfather’s fiery red hair resides mockingly at the top of our own heads; the same grandfather who spewed drunken, insulting words at us throughout elementary and middle school?
What meaning do we garner from the sight of our Aunt’s nose sitting smack dab in the middle of our faces? She always complained about that nose, apologized for passing "bad genes" to her nieces. She eventually had surgery to change it. What message did that send?
Sometimes our soul-shells walk hand-in-hand with memories we’d rather not think about. In other instances, they bring intense joy. Lots of times, we lumber through our days without even recognizing the patterns of both healthy, and harmful self-concept that we fall into. I’m wondering about the messages you’ve received in your life. What are your features saying to you? Do your thought-scripts need a re-write?
"Didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19, Msg.)
"You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared,
before I’d even lived one day." (Psalm 139, Msg. abbrev.)
Photo Credit: Chelsea Francis and Alexander Shust, Unsplash
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.