My grandmother, Mimi, had a head full of silver and gray hair. At the end of her life, deteriorating health prevented her from keeping routine beauty parlor appointments, and her hair grew out in the most astonishing shade of deep slate gray with only a tiny amount of salty white in it. I did not understand why, for the last several decades, she had been frosting her hair to look whiter and more aged than it actually was. She told me it was because once she turned 50 or so she felt like she ought to look her age. Come again? Pardon? Such an attitude flies in the face of today’s beauty standards such as”don’t deny your age, defy it.” Yet, in my mind she will always be one of the most beautiful people I have ever known.
We go to some crazy lengths for youthful beauty these days. Example: “Botulinum neurotoxin is the most poisonous substance known. If inhaled, 1 ug would kill a person.1 It exerts its effect by paralyzing striated muscles or the autonomic-innervated muscles. The muscle paralyzing feature of botulinum toxin, when used beneficially, has proven to be useful in more than 50 pathological conditions, including cosmetic applications. Today, botulinum neurotoxin injection is the most commonly performed cosmetic procedure in the world.” (source) We inject this stuff into our faces? It is ironic that the most popular source of eternal youth is a deadly poison.
For some of us, I wonder if our hyper-vanity isn’t just a symptom of something else. Life has caused the lines and creases. Is there something we want to erase from the past? Some pain or hardship that has led to frowns and furrows. How different would we be if we didn’t have these “wrinkles” in our lives? Where would we be now? Who would we be now? If I hadn’t suffered loss, I wouldn’t know the comfort of a Heavenly Father. If I hadn’t suffered earthly rejection, I wouldn’t know the contrast of God’s unconditional love. If the world had satisfied all of my needs, I wouldn’t know how much I have to depend on God every single day. Often when life is hard, we are being put through the refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2). In the process of refining metals, the raw metal is heated in the fire until it melts and the impurities separate from the metal and can be removed. Once it has been refined, the worker can look into the purified metal and see his reflection. This is such a perfect picture of how God uses the tough times to refine us, to work in us, to get rid of our impurities so that His reflection becomes more and more clear to the people who see us.
I really want to trust God to the point that I have a genuine peace instead of a dread for the challenges the future holds. I can trust Him because He is who He is, loving and just. I can also base this trust on the redeeming work He has done with the “fires” in my past. So, while I am definitely not suggesting a boycott on facial creams, make-up or exercise, I am going to readjust my priorities and my perspective. Laugh lines vs. crow’s feet… given the choice, I’m not pickin’ the old bird. (and, remind me of this in about 10 years, please!)