As I tweezed my almost invisible eyebrows the other day, I actually drew blood. Ouch! Why do I submit to magnifying mirrors? It’s only in their larger-than-life perspective those wild hairs even appear. I wondered, why does Vanity still hold me hostage?
On this day, suffering this “injury” brought back the memory of tweezing my mom’s eyebrows in her fifties and sixties. As a teen, I’d stand behind her chair with her head tilted back on my rib cage, and gingerly pluck microscopic hairs from her translucent skin. Every once in a while I’d grab a bit of flesh and her little squeal would bring me back to concentration. I would think, “Will my skin ever be this loose? This un-elastic, this wafery thin…? Yet she asks for this torture!
Smiling today, I know. Youth slips away slowly. The thick, dark hairs (which once made tweezing almost a matter of forest control) become pale by years, decades, not months. Gradually they turn in all helter skelter directions, and we continue to pluck in spite of both blindness and pain. We don’t succumb easily to any of it- the lines, the loss of muscle tone, the changing complexion. We push against it with the same stiff demeanor of those very hairs, and with all the seriousness a magnifying mirror can muster!
However, I strongly believe that beauty with aging enriches the world.
We should (and I use that word carefully) stand tall, pull back those shoulders, and go out the door knowing we own the wisdom of, well, years of experience. Not just years, decades of it. Decades of perseverance, mess-ups, successes and failures.
So today I offer my top five reasons why autumn women who keep working on beauty make the world a better place.
- Our Husbands Appreciate It.
Whether we dress up or wear yoga pants and a t-shirt, the amazing fact remains, husbands see us as the young girl he married… a lovely face, a wonderful body (even with ten extra pounds), a winning smile, charm and wit. What miracle keeps us looking very much the same to him over the years? No one can explain it– it remains a mystery. Now, though they appreciate us most when we’re naked, all the original qualities thrill him year after year after year…and when he’s proud of us, he’s a happier, better man.
- The Young Who Fear Aging Need It.
If we work on replacing youthful color and see ourselves vibrant and alive in the mirror, our health improves overall. It’s an attitude. All the makeup and jewelry in the world can’t overcome a negative attitude, but those things help produce a positive outlook. If you never wore makeup, it’s okay. But if you decide at 50 or 60 to begin, you will likely take off a few of those last ten years, and look perkier.
Why look ten years younger? To feel ten years younger! During my trip to Canada I had the pleasure of meeting a 106 year-old lady in the nursing home. She walks with a walker, wears pearls, pink lipstick, and a stylish outfit. You can find her chatting with those who stop at the coffee shop. She’s proud of being a woman, and causes those who meet her to fear growing old a little bit less.
- Our Children and Grandchildren Appreciate It.
Aging parents remind children of their own mortality. They desperately need a model up close and personal. Should we shield them from our aches and pains? Not necessarily. But a smiling, warm, and positive mom or grandmother makes them proud. If we took a reasonable amount of time to be beautiful, they’d love showing us off more. They may even want to be first to run up and introduce us to their friends.
- Workplaces Are Transformed by It.
One of my friends worked in an extremely stressful care-giving job. A key requirement for the job was to wear make-up and keep a stylish haircut. These habits didn’t transform the employees into more productive workers, but somehow showed others they felt more up to the pressure. And thus they became more effective.
In any setting, skill, not hair, gets the job done. But beauty helps make the workplace a more pleasant place. Proverbs author Solomon says, “…beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised.” Can she be both at the same time? Of course. One just lasts longer. Even while she fears the Lord and honors Him, her radiant appearance puts the icing on the cake. It shows she is aware of her femininity to His glory. She reflects His beauty in her own. What a way to show the world your faith!
- Society Sees God’s Design for Sex in It.
Nothing reflects the sexual dynamic of marriage like a couple in love. So what in the world would this have to do with beauty? A few years back, my hubby and I were touring in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. We saw an older couple, each with white hair, zoom by in a red Chevrolet open convertible. Her scarf blowing in the wind and their smiles gave me a picture I kept in my head. “That’s us in ten years, Honey!” I said. They drove past quickly, so their actions had nothing to do with my impression. It was her beauty sitting beside him.
What does this mean? Whether with her husband or alone, shopping, working, an autumn woman’s countenance can show the world the dynamic I admired in the couple above. Of course women who wear makeup and dress beautifully might be single. Or have no love life. But a woman who cherishes her role as her husband’s lover, (or acts as though available for that), and gives off a pleasant aroma wherever she goes, inadvertently broadcasts the purpose of marriage – to reflect the relationship between Christ and the believer, his Bride. That’s a sermon the world craves. Do you know you preach a sermon about aging?
So I’m not just talking about physical beauty. If a woman’s outward beauty becomes her highest priority, she appears shallow and both “deceitful” and “fleeting.” As John Piper reminds us, “He is most pleased when we find our desires filled in Him.”
My family moved from Canada in 1957 just before I entered the third grade. On that first morning of school when my teacher randomly asked me to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance, I had no idea what she meant. But I obediently walked to the front. When the children placed their hands on their hearts, I followed. Then, without another option, I simply opened my mouth. At that instant the class recited the pledge!
Now, at 31, a college graduate, a teacher, the wife of an American, and the mother of two American babies, I typed a letter to my then senator, Jesse Helms. How else could I vote for Ronald Reagan?
Here is my letter, written in the winter of 1980.
Dear Honorable Senator Helms,
Thank you for your service to our great state of North Carolina. I request your office to expedite the process of my naturalization to become a citizen of the United States. Would you please consider my request before the Novermber election? It is with great excitement I hope to help elect Ronald Reagan as president.
In May my reply came from the circuit court. What could have taken years actually began to unfold. I was to report on the morning of July 4th, 1980, to be examined and sworn in with a large group of aliens. Oh, boy, oh boy. I hired a babysitter and hoped my hubby could get there by the time of the ceremony, 2:00 pm.
Dressed in a blue print cotton sundress with white sandals and hose (We wore hose year round when we dressed up…), I climbed the steps of the stately granite courthouse. Names echoed along the hallway as I waited for mine to be called. Finally, a bespeckled man ushered me into a an office. Could I name the three branches of the American government? Who was our first president? Did I understand that I would be asked in front of many witnesses to renounce the country of my birth? Did I know that my answer in the affirmative would grant my citizenship today?
I swallowed hard and took a breath. Relatives lived in Canada. It’s where I visited every summer. But American public school and college provided my education. America had given me my husband. America collected my FICA withholdings in promise to return them back in the form of Social Security checks some day.This should be a no-brainer.
But Renounce is a big word. Did I understand what that meant?
Well, it meant that I could vote for Ronald Reagan, the man we needed in Washington. I smiled and said, “I do.”
In the next hour the courtroom filled. It hummed with a low cacophony of many languages, as over a hundred onlookers stood shoulder to shoulder in the back. Where was that husband of mine? From the middle of the room, I began to worry. What if something went wrong with the babies? What if he couldn’t find parking? The air conditioner struggled to keep up with the need. We all sweated the rainbow of odors from around the world. Would my sundress get me through? Yet, I felt blessed. This happened to be July 4th- a holiday within a holiday. And the ceremony began.
The judge’s speech, a bit long for the heat, charged us to be involved citizens. Then I gathered the nerve to turn around. There he stood, sleeves rolled up, crammed into the crowd. I guessed he’d jogged from blocks away. But he had made it.
Then, as the clerk read our names, each person stood. Such variety of color and style. Older Asian men, young European women, Middle Eastern students, Indian grandmothers, eager, all eyes glistened. Then as we stood in unison, the clerk instructed us to raise our right hand. Affirmations prompting I wills and I dos made a kind of choir. Our song proclaimed to the world that the United States of America now held first place as the country we call home.
Hubby and I drove home in separate cars, the babies had had a great 4th, and with my help, Ronald Reagan did become president that year.
So here’s my charge to you on this 4th of July, 2014.
1. Don’t take your citizenship for granted. Vote.
2. Remember that citizenship in Heaven means we renounce the world. Yes, that’s something to think about.
3. Love your colorful neighbors all the time. Be color grateful as much as color blind.