I tugged at my hair and frowned in the mirror. Then I remembered I couldn’t frown because that’s bad for the furrow between my eyes. I lift my eyebrows as if to iron it out. I can’t look too close at the things that are changing more with each passing year.
I apply makeup furiously and with a vendetta against the things I am trying to cover up. I do my usual squint in the mirror, my usual way of addressing mirrors ever since I was in fifth grade when my Mom let me start using pancake makeup to cover up my early acne.
In many ways, I am still the girl behind the curtain of hair on my first visit to the dermatologist office, all these years later. I look for the seat against the window, not facing it. Those visits lasted years and took me to some dark places.
I thought I could make myself disappear if I lost enough weight.
When I finally emerged at 25, by God’s grace and healing and my parent’s prayers, I entered into a foreign and wonderful place I had never been before. It was my own personal Woodstock. I waded in at first, then I plunged in with both feet. I exulted, I danced, I splashed, I reveled in my new-found joy and freedom.
I got my hair cut and looked out at a new and wonderful world. I ran my fingers over my face and down my neck where there were no more lumps. Praise God. For the first time in my life I felt beautiful.
It was a pretty good run from then on. Until lately that is.
At 50 I was all confident and unafraid, ready to take on the next phase of life. At 53 I am entering into a peculiar stage. It’s not so much fun anymore. Gravity and years are tugging at me. Simple tasks result in stupid injuries.
But from today on, I am calling a truce with myself and my body. I will forgive it for aging. I am going to fall in love all over again. With myself. Cause God said I could.
Each time I get angry at the extra pounds pressing at my clothes, I will remember this post. I will not think of it as my body betraying me, but reminding me that I have to work a little bit harder. When I look at my upper arms I won’t pinch angrily at the extra flesh, remembering how firm and muscular my arms used to be.
And when I look at the wrinkles on my skin, which to me are looking more like trenches, I will try not to dream of winning a trip to the plastic surgeon or running to get laser treatments. I will not hate my extra sun spots and think of them as defects but friendly freckles, and I will let my arms go free from sleeves and I will wear shorts and enjoy it.
I will love my legs, knowing that underneath they are the same legs as when I could point a toe and see muscles pop like a ballet dancer. I can still use them to walk fast and even run when my back doesn’t give out.
I will not dread the swimsuit season. I will not allow it to give myself permission to hate my body or berate myself for how lazy I have gotten over the winter, I will use it as extra motivation to improve and make better food choices.
I will remember my re-birth, both of them. And live the truth that God has called me wonderfully made, and good, and yes, beautiful. And when I love myself, I am not only praising what He made, I am praising Him too.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
I will from this time forward, look to my beautiful older sisters who dress young and act young. I will see their radiant faces in my mind when I am tempted to pick up the barbed chains of self-flagellation.
And last but not least I will let my inner beauty shine so bright it’s the first thing people notice about me.
And starting today, I will hug myself in the mirror instead of frowning or squinting.
Because I love the me God created.