I don’t know if fine-tuning technology is getting out there more, or perhaps women are feeling more pressure to “reverse aging” (as the bold headlines tout,) or maybe our American culture, as a whole, is simply missing out on the real beauty that graces us with our years…but something is surely happening.
I’ve noticed a spike in the number of photos on social media that are being enhanced, face-tuned, air-brushed or whatever one might call smoothing out all the blemishes, wrinkles and imperfections. In simple, everyday smartphone camera shots, I see women take the time to edit before they share their captured memories on social media. This, an attempt to connect with others in an authentic, “this is really my life” kind of way.
Except it’s not.
Because real life leaves its mark on us. And it’s beautiful. And, well…part of life.
Every line, every wrinkle, every scar. Even the hormonal blemishes that revisit women again, long after our teenage years. They all tell our story. Who we are. Where we’ve been. What we’ve endured and survived. Our resolve and determination.
You can see it on our faces. In our eyes. Encompassed in our expressions. They all tell our unique life story. Ours alone. Each one, individual. Each one beautiful.
Each one, a gift.
The truth is, aging is a gift. The whole process of it. LIFE. Our journey. Our discovery of purpose and identity. An unwrapping process to unearth the diamond that’s been compressed for years. An opportunity to discover our truest, most authentic, untouched-by-time beauty. (I adore how this precious woman describes it!)
It’s a gift to age. A gift that matters so much more than our appearances. We mustn’t let the world lie to us and tell us otherwise!! We must embrace the days and show the next generation (namely, our children) that we’ve cherished each and every day that we’ve been given with them. (I’d sure hate for them to get the impression that I went through the last half of my life with my heels dug into the ground, fighting it every step of the way!!)
Because with age, comes life!
With life, we gain experiences and growth. With growth, we gain abundance. With abundance comes peace and joy — a serenity and fulfillment.
I am in my mid-forties now. My body is changing. My hormones are literally on the fritz. My hair continues to gray. My waistline isn’t so much of a waistline anymore, as much as it is simply the center of my trunk. Anything on me that can sag has started to, and my constant smile has left permanent facial lines.
And, it’s all OK…because here’s what I (and you too) get in return:
Wisdom. And, thank goodness, really, because I’m not sure I’d survive another day if I was as ridiculous as I was in high school! But truly, I’m so grateful for each day that I learn…and I really do learn something every single day; not just knowledge, but real wisdom regarding people, relationships, parenting, compassion. Things that matter. Heck, I’m learning what matters and therefore, where to invest my time, energy and emotion!! Wisdom helps me prioritize and holds me accountable to truth. I’d age ten more years in one day, if I could guarantee I’d gain the wisdom of that decade in an instant!
Self-worth. Yes, my forty-four-year-old, dry skin might not appear as youthful as it once did, but you know what? I’m more comfortable in it. This has been a HUGE blessing each year that I experience. I’m discovering daily who I am — who and how God made me to be. And, I even like myself. I can embrace me! I can finally hold my chin up, even when I’m not accepted or celebrated by everyone. I have value in being a daughter of God. I have worth in knowing that I have been equipped for a purpose, and sometimes I even get to see first-hand the positive impact I have on others. My value no longer fluctuates (as much,) based on others’ opinions. It is growing more solid and stable every day, based on who God tells me I am (and believing it!)
Grace. This is a big one. A saving one, literally, for the high-achieving, straight “A” student in me. I like to get perfect test scores in life. Still. But it surely doesn’t always happen. And when it doesn’t, I like to beat myself up over it. Why wasn’t I better, more or enough? I AM, though, because I’m human, and humans make mistakes. All of us. Grace flows in when I lower my expectations from perfection. It’s taken years for me to accept that this isn’t just “good enough,” it’s healthy, life-giving and of God. Whether given or received, life abounds when grace abounds. Jesus came for this very reason. We must receive it and pass it on too!
Faith. It’s a game-changer like no other. Truly. Although I went to church growing up, I only knew how to recite prayer and do religious things. It wasn’t until adulthood that I found Christ and began experiencing Him in real relationship. Submitting to Him and His ways has taken me all of my years alive thus far. It’s a process to let go of my selfish and controlling ways. To place my full trust and hope in Him. To surrender. Just a little bit more every day. I pray for more days, so I can continue!!! It’s an incredible burden lifted when we know we can rely on God and trust in His promises. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. I have days where I am “sure” and “certain.” That number increases as I age, so bring it on!
Love and Purpose. I was trying to separate these two, but I actually don’t think they can be separated. They are so intertwined. Isn’t love part of everyone’s purpose? Aren’t we called, in the two greatest commandments, to love God and love others? It often takes years and maturity to begin to get our eyes off of ourselves!! Only then, can we fully love others with purpose and intention. As well, it often takes years to discover who God created us to be. Understanding and fine-tuning our gifting leads to loving others through our purpose. It’s one of the greatest journeys of life. And it IS, indeed, a journey that we might spend a lifetime trying to maximize. The more we age, the more we can learn how to become more effective and efficient in God’s plans for our lives. The more effective and efficient, the more fully we live our purpose!
Isn’t that exciting?!
These are just some of the things I thought of, and I do believe they are fairly universally true for everyone. This list isn’t exhaustive. I’m sure there’s even more that we gain as we age. If this were it, though, it would still be incredibly rich, wouldn’t it?! If you had the opportunity to grow in each of these areas, wouldn’t you welcome that with open arms?
Well…you do have that opportunity. You just need to be alive and open to it. When you set your heart and intention toward these things; when you include them in your prayer life; when you focus on the goodness and the hope that comes with each new day, week, month and year, THEN you will see — not with regular, human eyes, but with spiritual eyes.
You will see how GOOD it is to age!
My husband and I often joke that by the time our life comes to and end, we will be really great people, spouses and friends to others!! LOL! Oh, it’s such a journey, and I SO want it to continue. I SO want to grow older, wiser, more confident, more full of grace, more faithful, more loving and purposeful.
Let’s embrace the years, ladies. We’re all experiencing them at the same rate. We’re all on this journey together.
Nobody is escaping aging (as long as you live) but so many are missing the full benefits, because they’ve gotten so distracted by a few fine lines. Let me assure you, friends, we all want to age gracefully, and it’s done much more so with our hearts than our appearances!!
Let’s trust that God knew just what He was doing when He created life and ordained how human life would play out. His plans are good. I have a feeling that one day we’ll find out they were actually perfect.
Our choice is to trust our Creator, or to trust the enemy, who wants to make us self- conscious. One loves us so much, he tells us he is our Father, and we are his children, and he loves us accordingly and wants to be with us forever. The other, well…he’s known as the Father of Lies.
Who will you choose to listen to?