I see her in a different view these days with less distortion than in days gone by.
The form of her face is increasingly unfamiliar with advancing age and the effects of illness.
When gazing into a full length silhouette I have less of a critical eye as the pounds have dropped over time. This was not always so.
Close in and the imperfect details are no longer masked as I became allergic to make-up or unable to attend to the details of the perfectly plucked brow. The latter used to be so relaxing to craft.
Instead I see the markings of days in the sun, storylines from broken nights of sleep, puffier cheeks for unknown reasons, shoulders elevated with enough muscle tension to throw out the shoulder pads in that dated blazer, and a jaw set in a pattern marked more by pain or grief than joy.
But wait. There is something more! Will you look at her eyes? When she will dare to look with more than a fleeting glance I can see deeply into her soul like never before. There’s a softening, a knowing, a sincerity, a connection, a spirit-filled peace, a sense that the stuff of this world is just not that important anymore, a different brand of confidence. She might be o.k. just the way she is, no? Her eyes say so perhaps . . .
So funny, isn’t it how the role of the bathroom or pocket mirror can change over the course of our lives? As a teenager we strive to keep every bit of bang, drape of the shirttail, sparkle of the lip gloss and more just right. After all that dashing blond-haired dreamboat may just look our way today so we must be ready! The preoccupation continues until we actually land with that special someone at the Lord’s altar of grace and happiness; we may keep up appearances for a time then our image may fade as family priorities, career shifts, and the care of aging parents come crashing in. There simply are not enough hours in the day to have a perfect manicure all the time anymore!
I find myself in a curious variation of all of these themes. Many times I have hated the change in my appearance with the onset of a serious illness. Most of the time I was at a complete loss to do anything about it and had to nearly crawl out of the house with wet hair and no make-up. I was grateful simply to be upright and moving! By the time I became better at managing the symptoms of illness, the routines of daily grooming had already eroded. It was just easier to go al naturale and spend the precious moments in which I was able to function on more important tasks. Comfortable shoes became the norm every day even when I had acquired some cute low-heeled boots or slides. The latter accentuate the calves don’t you know, in a lean, long leggy look anytime of year. Nope: that was generally off my radar until very recently.
Was it the discovery of a mineral-based make-up line that peaked my interest in stepping things up in my primping department? Was it the opportunity to go out a little more that prompted me to look good for my hubby-boo? I’m thinking that it is just plain fun to dress up again, allowing the inner peace to percolate out into the mainstream here and there a bit. And if I do or if I don’t, it doesn’t matter as much anymore. THAT IS VERY FREEING INDEED!
After all, the woman in my mirror has grown into more self-acceptance than ever before. Psalm 139 means a lot to me even in the face of serious illness when I know that this is how my Lord crafted me and is the place from which He will call me into His presence someday. One day all this will be perfect so why sweat the small stuff now? Taking care of myself and my appearance also reflects well on my husband according to the Proverbs 31 lady. She wears purple! The woman in the mirror is to be a solo consideration, not comparing the reflection to any magazine cover or member of the sisterhood. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we are to humble ourselves before our brethren (Phil 2:3-4). That will keep our hearts pure and beautiful no doubt. Further we are to carry into the world our own treasure chest of talents and giftings (Galatians 6:4-5) then boast only in the One who made us this way (1 Cor 1:30-31) all for His glory not ours. Wow: delighting in His creation (me) which is a testimony to His own reflection and the work of the Holy Spirit living in each of us who know Him as Lord and Savior. Oh how I long to see the face of my Jesus someday!
When a sweet gal recently complimented what I thought was my very plain appearance, I realized that the most important accessories I need to wear are a smile on my face and joy in my heart. The rest of my self image must transcend the beauty aisles at Macy’s. So I say now that my inability to keep up with appearances as in the past has actually moved me away from the glassy mirrors! These days I’d rather see myself in the eyes of a friend sitting across the coffee table than from any other place. Perhaps the Psalmist King Lemuel said it best from the wisdom of his mother:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
Oh how I do pray that what you see here from me, Gentle Reader, is Him and not me. I would have never made it this far in my life without Him: that is for sure. The mirror would have shattered years ago with the crumbling of my own strength, my own inability to keep up with much of anything at all. May you always see Him in the people places and things around you. May you come to know the Lord, Jesus Christ of your life as you gaze into your own beautiful reflection too. It’s just how it’s meant to be my friend. JJ