Tuesday, March 13, 2007
In This Skin
The lighting in the restroom of our church is not kind; rather it is a very harsh sort of lighting. Whenever I look in the mirror of that restroom it is a bit of a shock. Who is that older woman looking so bewilderedly back at me? Surely she isn’t the same woman I see in the gentler lighting of my mirror at home. I have never been one to fuss a lot over my looks. Perhaps it is because I don’t consider myself particularly beautiful. I’m just me, and my face has become so familiar I don’t really see it any more. However, that face looking back at me in the church restroom mirror gives me pause. I’m getting older. There are just no two ways about it.
I don’t know how I ever came up with the notion that of course everyone ages – with the exception of me. I never thought of myself as getting wrinkled or less agile. I never imagined my hands with prominent veins or arthritic joints. I didn’t think I would lose the fight with gravity and watch my body change. It was a silly notion of course. Every one of us will age, and we will all experience its affects on our bodies. I just somehow thought I would be different.
I had never been concerned with age until I hit my late forties. That was when I became a grandmother for the first time, and I saw myself through the eyes of my granddaughter. The sagging skin on my neck began to bother me. I suddenly became very aware of how I had changed. I think I even envied those Hollywood stars who I knew very well were my age or older but looked years younger. How much would plastic surgery actually cost?
Then I turned fifty, it was somehow liberating. “It’s all right,” I thought. “I’m getting older, and I really don’t mind. I am just going to be me, and I don’t care who I impress.” I began to feel comfortable in my (albeit aging) skin. I didn’t continually look in the mirror to see if anything else had fallen or wrinkled up. I just relaxed.
Now I am sixty. I am content. I sometimes wish I were more limber or could sleep better, but life is very sweet. I have learned to cherish each day. I want to live each day well – with no regrets. Material things have become very unimportant. I still like pretty things and a nice home, but I don’t place too high a value on them. I am learning to live more open-handedly – to give up trying to control everything and everyone around me. I am learning to trust the Lord.
So many of the things I took for granted in my youth are now like precious gems in my life. Because I was saved as a child I didn’t value the gift of salvation as I should have in my young adult life. I held the gift far too loosely. These days I can hardly keep the tears from flowing when I begin to give thanks to God for the precious blessings He has so abundantly poured into my life.
I tend to be less judgmental in my “advanced years”. I often ask the Lord to let me see others through His eyes, and I find my heart filled with compassion and mercy. The rhythm of my days has slowed. It is a lovely time of life. I get to spend my days with the man God has given me to love. I have discovered that marriage is hard work, but it is worth it. These days it is so much easier (but I am still learning). We have children and grandchildren who bring us indescribable joy.
I don’t know what the next decade holds for me. However, I know that the Lord already knows all about it. He has promised to be with me. He has promised to help me. I am putting my life in His hands. Psalm 139 has been a lifeline for me in recent years. I particularly love verse 16:
“Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Thy book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.”
He has written the story of my life. The thought overwhelms me. My life is safe in His hands.
This post is part of a new writing project called Woman to Woman. For more writings on this subject go to Morning Glory's beautiful blog. She and Lei are hosting this for us.