Reality Can be Disappointing
I recently discovered something most women over forty want to avoid: acknowledgement by others that you really are your age.
At recent wedding festivities, where my husband was the presiding minister, we found ourselves seated among several twenty-something’s at meals. All married less than a year, hard-working overachievers, talented, missional thinkers. Their enthusiasm for tackling life and idealism about the future inspired me.
Then I began to notice their references to us in the context of their parents. Saying things like, “Oh, they sound like my parents.” Yes, it’s disheartening. I thought they wanted to sit with us because we were cool. It turns out, they really wanted ask questions of the older clergy couple.
I began to do the math in my head. Realized that I could be the mother of the bride had I started having babies early. Time did a number on me. A sneaky transformation occurred and I became the mature woman I always thought only fit the description of “those other people.” While I can see it in the mirror – grays around the hairline, the “fine lines” around my eyes – I guess I am in denial that others can see it too.
Authenticity is Beautiful
As I scooped food onto my plate, I talked with Lindsay from Indiana around the food table. Learned her husband was a groomsman. We shared the commonality of waiting for our men while they performed wedding roles accordingly.
She told me about the triathlon she completed, worship she leads in Spanish. Tucked stray hairs persistently behind her ears while explaining her work as a trauma nurse through final years of college. Indigo eyes gleam as she shares about the desire to serve as a missionary. How she went to Haiti right after the earthquake to help.
Suddenly, age doesn’t matter. That she has flawless skin and stomach flat as a piece of paper. That kind of passion, drive, and obedience to obey God in someone moves me. Have you been inspired by someone like that?
I felt privileged to sit next to her as we ate our dinner. Wished my daughter could meet her (which does reveal my age).
As newlyweds, they serve in their church and community to help people who struggle: the homeless, drug addicts, underprivileged. They planned to drive home through the night to lead worship for the Hispanic congregation she serves. Both pray God gives them clarity about their future.
But they didn’t just talk about themselves, they engaged us in conversation. Asked about our kids, what makes our marriage successful, how we serve the Anglican Mission. A genuine desire to know us flowed from their questions. Why does this feel rare?
This couple, one of several in the room, possessed a kind of authenticity that people often say is missing in our culture. The kind that isn’t concerned so much about our fine lines or gray hairs. How much money we make or what kind of car we drive. They want to know how to live life in obedience to God, how to be successful as spouses and parents, find contentment in their work, discover their call.
That kind of passion changes people. It’s contagious. Is this something I possess?
Forget about the collapse of skin tone that forms a muffin top around my mid-section or the new wrinkles on my face. True beauty flows from a genuine heart of humility chasing after God. I’ll take that kind of beauty any day.
Very well expressed. It is this beautiful knowledge that keeps us “older women” in balance with who we are in Christ, our value in Christ, our identity in Christ, and how best to use the wonderful opportunities, experiences, and realities of time. Transparency. Authenticity. Humility. Relationship. Connection. Thank you, Shelly, again for reminding us that a bloom is beautiful in its time and a full blossom is beautiful and fragrant in its time. You are a sweet fragrance to the Lord and your beauty eternal.
Thanks Rose. Have to keep reminding myself that true beauty comes within when I see the outward transformation against my will!
Started reading your blog after the wedding in NC last week. God has definitely blessed you with fantastic writing skills. The depth of your thoughts provokes me to explore new horizons. Keep it up!!
Thanks Leslie. It was really great meeting you and you did a fantastic job at the wedding. So fun and thought provoking for me to converge our past with the wedding. God is good.