My four-year-old son sat at the kitchen table eating his dinner of fish sticks and green beans, wearing a pair of underwear on his head, one of his sister’s purple sequined cardigan sweaters, and sporting no pants and no shirt.
Grace said, “Why are you wearing my purple sweater?”
I said, “Where are your pants?”
Rachel said, “Are those underwear clean?!”
To which my son replied indignantly, “They’re clean! The dirty ones are still on my bottom!”
We all broke into fits of laughter at the adorable spectacle sitting beside us, contentedly dipping his frozen fish into a smear of red ketchup.
Why can’t we all live our lives the way we did when we were children, completely unaware or uncaring about our outward appearance?
Vanity is a struggle for many of us, especially in this current time of manipulated pictures, filters, and constant dissemination of images of ourselves. I am certainly not immune to it.
For example, my sister put a pair of readers in my Christmas stocking a year ago. I have never in my life worn any kind of glasses, ever. She’s worn them for a few years now. When I was at her house that Thanksgiving, she noticed me holding a piece of paper at a distance in order to see it more clearly. I tried her readers on, and for the first time ever, they made things appear clearer instead of fuzzier. Whoa. So, with a gentle nudge from my big sis, I entered the world of age-induced corrected vision.
This realization about my changing eyes brought about other realizations. For one, I really am getting older. Second, I’m noticing all the ways I am a slave to an inner voice that tells me everything I need to cover up and hide from the world … so that I can be seen the way I WANT to be seen, instead of as I truly am. Fat, short, greying, aging eyes, wrinkles, insecurity … oh, the ugly truth of it all.
I’m also finding beauty in the midst of this aging journey, though. Instead of fighting this progression towards the latter part of my life, I’m trying to embrace it. I’ve earned these crow’s feet and laugh lines. I may fight them tooth and nail with wrinkle cream, but when I see them, I realize I am fulfilling a treasured dream: to grow old.
I am at the age now that my mother was when she passed away. She didn’t get to grow old with the love of her life, my father. My husband’s father also died young. So, when we stand in the bathroom getting ready for bed, and notice out loud the changing parts of our bodies, we smile and say, “Honey, I love it. We’re growing old together!” We recognize that aging is a privilege and blessing that not everyone gets to experience.
I’m currently working on projecting a more authentic version of my inner self to the outside world. So, for transparency and authenticity’s sake: I am 45 years old. I have three kids and an amazing husband. I’ve had more than my share of health problems. And a whole lot of loss. I don’t believe I can take a single breath without God giving it to me. My faith in God is the single most important thing in my life.
Here I am, world. This is me. God’s not finished with me yet. And He’s not finished with you, either. Let’s seek Him together, just as we are. Just as He created us.