By: Jana Greene
“To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, and reverent–that is to triumph over old age.”– Thomas Bailey Aldrich
There was a time in my life when I would have bought this magazine, but now, waiting in the grocery store check-out, I don’t even pick it up. A celebrity in her late 40’s, looking freakishly young and thin, smiles through the thick glossy cover. Her name, known the world over, is boldly printed over an italicized quote that proclaims that she is finally at peace with her middle-aged self.
She is at peace with her (surgically enhanced) body.
At peace with the (airbrushed) wrinkles.
She is at peace with her “real” self these days.
Although I’ve never read this edition of the magazine, I’ve read the essence of it a thousand times. Full of articles imploring other women in mid-life to embrace the REAL you! sandwiched between ads and columns featuring pictures of women who’ve been photo-shopped within an inch of their likenesses.
Some days I struggle with this aging thing. It’s hard to sign a peace treaty with something as it marches across your face and forms dimples your thighs while you sleep. I have to constantly remind myself that getting older is actually a gift; more time to make a difference to someone, more time to love and laugh and serve.
God says that “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. (Proverbs 16:31, NIV) but that’s not what society says.
Society says to color the gray out, because we are worth it….to cover our faces with makeup to “take the years off” and to Spanx-corset our mid-sections. To tan, moisturize, condition and bind. To dye, tweeze, pluck and lift.
Because if you are 45 but look 25, you might find “peace”?
Peace wasn’t a real hallmark of my 20’s. The best thing about them was not a tight jaw-line or flat abs (although yes, they were nice if I recall). The best thing about being 20-something was the belief that the best was yet to come. The hopefulness.
Every woman I know over 25 struggles with the insecurity that whispers “Look in the mirror! Step on the scale! Your best has already been…..”
But that isn’t what God says at all.
Ironic… that the same forces marching across my face, dimpling my thighs – are the ones bringing the crown of splendor. The experiences that bring “hopeful, kindly, cheerful and reverent” are often the same experiences that precede wrinkles, gray hair, a few extra pounds.
I’m learning that a heart unwrinkled is what really inspires me.
And the peace-treaty with my wrinkles and thighs? Yeah. That’s a work in progress, too.