Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting Old Isn't For Sissies...

You know the old adage; if you think you're humble, that's a sure sign you're not. Yet, as I grow older, I find myself being humbled with increasing frequency. Today I had a couple of experiences that reminded me how far I have fallen.

I've never hidden my age. I've never cared who knew how many years I've been alive. Heck, I let nature take its course and stopped coloring my hair a year ago. I embraced the silver. I've always felt energetic and happy and reasonably attractive. I've never considered myself a raving beauty, but, one who knew how to make the best of what she had to work with.
So, I went to the gym this morning. I haven't been going as faithfully because of an injury and physical therapy, so, I was struggling-feeling really lame...having a hard time keeping up wasn't the half of it. I'd left the house with rain coming down and a chill in the air, so, I'd pulled a long sleeved shirt over my sports bra. Big mistake. Within 5 minutes of starting the class, I realized I was going to have a genuine melt down if I didn't remove the shirt. The question was clear. Would I rather die from my own personal summer, or show my marshmallow stomache to every woman in the class? I swallowed hard and removed my shirt, tying it around my waist in hopes of camoflauging my puffiness. It didn't work. I continued the workout, trying to avoid my reflection, but, acknowledging the obvious-- that the body that once got whistles and second looks, is aging and out of shape. The mirror doesn't lie.
I was reminded of the question oft asked in email questionairres, "which part of your body do you like best?" I realized there wasn't one. Not my legs, which have too much cellulite, nor my arms which I inherited from my Grandmother...Certainly not my waist, once small nor my stomache, once flat. No. This body ain't what it used to be.

If that little experience wasn't humbling enough, later this afternoon, a young woman friend from church came by to take some photos at my house. I had volunteered to help her with a school project by serving as a model for some portraits. We had a some great conversation while she took candid shots over the span of a couple of hours. Tonight she posted them on Facebook and once again, I was confronted with the truth. Brace yourself! I am no longer 26. I know that seems obvious, and, of course, I already knew it, but, there was the vivid proof, in living color, for all the world to see. Oh my! As I told her, she did a beautiful job, considering what she had to work with: a 56 year old woman who has seen better days.
I guess it's that time...time to recognize that the outer shell is fading...time to realize that inner beauty is the only kind that will endure. All the exercise classes, moisturizers and cosmetics in the world aren't going to turn back the hands of time. And, for me, plastic surgery is just out of the question. There isn't enough money and there aren't enough drugs.

I've always said, I want to grow old with grace. Now I have to live it out. This is where the rubber meets the road. I am painfully aware that I need to spend more time cultivating wisdom, kindness, a gentle and quiet spirit and accepting that I am an aging woman. External beauty doesn't last. Genuine beauty comes from knowing to Whom you belong and accurately reflecting His light into the world around you. That's a reflection I can live with.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, will be praised." ...Proverbs 31:31