On Beauty and Aging

Old walnut tree trunk detail texture as natural background.So, this is the post where I talk about my body.  And getting older.

[Please refrain from all the thunderclaps.]

Aging is something MANY late thirty-something mothers (and dare I say fathers!) struggle with.

I look in the mirror and things are just … changing.  Who’s with me?

For one, I am now in the target demographic for skin care products that will “slow down the aging process” or “reduce aging.”  I LITERALLY could spend upwards of $300 every six weeks on cleansing kits, microderm ebrasion, anti-wrinkle serums, lotions, and eye creams.

I have sun spots and more freckles and a small cluster of flat warts on my forehead.  Sexy and I know it.

color my roots every 3 weeks.  If I didn’t I would be 80% white.  I plucked my first white hairs around the age of  26, before I even birthed babies.  Stop the jealousness.

I am 15 lbs heavier than I want to be and should be.  (I’m currently on Day 7 of the Whole30 and LOVING it–hope to write on that tomorrow).  But the result of my 15 lbs is that I am more ‘curvy.’  In particular, my chest is larger than it ever has been, and this has felt awkward and uncomfortable as clothes do not fit the same and I am sensitive to drawing too much attention there.

I have a LOT of stretch marks.  A LOT, especially around my hips and waistline but also on my thighs and chest.  My firstborn was 10 lbs 11 oz.  When I got pregnant with him I was a size 6 and weighed 150lbs.  (I am 5 feet 10 inches tall).  He was a massive basketball on the front of my belly.  And he gave me a lot of these lovely stretch marks (which I am happy to have because they gave me HIM).

I have cellulite.  On the back of my legs.  And I have dangling triceps.  My six year old likes to slap them around so they jiggle.  He’s asked me if it is muscle or fat and I say a little bit of both.

I have aches and pains in places I didn’t have aches and pains ten years ago.  And I sleep with a neck pillow.

Save me.

There is a sweet friend that I follow on Instagram who is newly married who likes to take pictures of herself in all her cuteness. (She takes pictures of many things, not just selflies. :))  She’s thin and young and dazzling, and for a minute I’m jealous, but then in another minute I’m protective of her.  I want to tell her that her beauty, which she relies on so heavily right now to make her feel special, will fade.  That the bodies we have are aging, all of us, every day.

Right now she walks into a room and boys turn their heads and she feels noticed and beautiful.  I can see it on her face.  She get’s compliments, a lot.  She drapes on lingerie and spends a night with her husband and she feels confident and adored.  She puts on her bikini and walks the beach with a wavy hat shading her nose and doesn’t think a thing of it.

I want to remind her, some day [sooner than she thinks] it will fade.

Some day down the road she will need to feel noticed and beautiful not because boys turn their heads, or other women dole out compliments, but because her beauty will have to come from Someone and Somewhere else.  She will look at her white hair and sun spots and cellulite and 15 extra pounds and stretch marks that birthed two babies and she’ll find herself missing the good ol’ days when things hung a little differently.  She’ll start to wonder, “Am I truly loved like this?”

I’ve become convinced, as I’ve wrestled with my own aging and vanity, that God strips away some of our false identities (including youth) and gives us wrinkles and stretch marks and cellulite to make us reach the point of asking, am I truly loved as I am?

Was I loved because I was a size 6, or was I loved because I was me?

Was I beautiful because men would turn their heads, or was I beautiful because God created me in his image and looked on the first Adam and the first Eve and said, “It is VERY good.”

Was I loved because I had fine features and a fine figure, or was I loved because He says “I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”

I am coming to the point of really believing I am beautiful.  Ironically, it took my aging for that to happen.

Like you, I know that true beauty is about the inside. But that isn’t what our world says, now is it?  We can know God looks at the heart, and the heart is what matters, but what we believe is sometimes different.  Just two weeks ago I spoke at a group of 100 women and afterwards one of the ladies approached me and said, “Thank you for what you said this morning.  You talked about knowing and believing.  Well one of the things I struggle with so much is that I KNOW God loves me, but sometimes I just don’t BELIEVE I’m lovable.”

What makes a person believe she is lovable?   It is not her youth or her beauty or her roles or her careers or her successes or her talents, but only when she knows who she is first, apart from these things, as a child of God.  When she is secure in His love she can start to love herself and others.

Oddly, as we’ve entered this new phase (both me and Bookguy) where we aren’t the young lovers anymore, we’ve settled into a new kind of love — one that is deeper, richer, and more honest.  He’s seeing the curves of my aging, the laugh lines around my eyes, the body that carried two of his babies, and he looks on me and treasures me as the mother of his children, his partner and wife of 14 years, his closest friend and confidant, and his intellectual and spiritual companion.  I see his aging, and I look on him and love him, for being my most loyal friend, for tirelessly giving and serving our family, for his wisdom and discernment, for his laugh lines and being my emotional, spiritual, and intellectual muse.  He has never been so attractive to me. We’ve moved past the first years of lust and jealousy and vanity and all the external.  Now we’ve built a life.  We’ve built a love.  And it is more true than it’s ever been.

###

P.S.  Last night, we were getting ready to go out to a friends birthday dinner, and I had done my hair, and spruced up my make up, and put on 2 inch heels (so I am now 6 feet tall), and Bookguy came over, wrapped his arms around me and whispered in my ear, “You look so HOT.”  :)  It’s good every now and then for us to let our spouses know we still think they’ve got the goods — we still WANT them and are attracted to them.  Husbands, don’t be afraid to hit on your wife.