I've always been the self-conscious type who worried about my looks and how others perceived me. I'm embarrassed to admit it but I guess, in effect, I'm (sigh) vain. Disconnecting myself from the lure of beauty has never been easy. I have a daughter who doesn't care about that kind of stuff. It's amazing and wonderful and considerably inexpensive.
I'm not the type to pursue beauty at all costs. That's not me. Plastic surgery and jewels and all that glitters is just not my thing. But that doesn't mean that I don't worry about how I look. It doesn't mean that I don't long to be beautiful. I just dream of long, flowing hair next to rosy cheeks and a darling, turned up nose and sparkling eyes capping off a trim and fit body all slid effortlessly into a flannel shirt, jeans and a pair of cowboy boots.
Aging hasn't helped this vanity. If anything, it has made things worse. Time marches on and crows leave their feet at my eyes. Hair morphs from a golden, honey brown to dead mouse gray. Teeth, once a pearly white, take on the appearance of corn kernels as they succumb to decades of coffee guzzling. The nose continues to grow and takes front stage. (Why...why...WHY is that?) Body parts sag and flap in the wind. Formerly stick-like arms do the bobble and weave and create their own weather currents when you brush your hair. Waists thicken. Thighs wobble.
We live in a culture that says that you should never lose that beauty. At one time I had a Facebook ad that offered to tell me the secret of how Katie Holmes looked so young. Dagnabbit! She LOOKS young because she IS young!
It would be nice to think that all of us age. All of us lose our physical beauty, if we ever had it, and move on to a life where compassion and humor and mercy and generosity are the things that count. It would be nice to think that we all move on to losing our youthfulness and being ok with it.
But we don't. And I'm not. I admit that when I see on Facebook photos of people I knew from high school and they don't look any older, part of me just dies inside. It happened again last night. There they were. The Beautiful People. Looking at me with big smiles and white teeth and not a wrinkle to be had. I staggered off to brush my teeth. My hair was stringy. My face was long and thin, the bulk of which had fallen to my waist. I looked tired. Haggard. Worn out from life. I went to bed crestfallen.
This morning my battered ego stumbled upon Isaiah 53: 2. "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." Vanity: busted! I had heard this verse over and over again and it had never occurred to me that he was not good looking. I mean, all those Jesus movies have him as a pretty decent looking guy. But he wasn't.
The Son of God. The very Image of His Being was not beautiful. If the Son of God was not beautiful then why should my own physical beauty be of concern to me?