Am I Still Beautiful?
“I told my husband, ‘It’s all inner beauty from here on out, honey,’” wisecracked my friend.
Hoots of laughter rang out among the six of us gathered at a coffeeshop for a friend’s birthday. The youngest had just crossed into her 30’s; 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s were represented at the table as well.
The conversation naturally drifted towards the changes that aging brings. It’s a theme that seems to be a constant in my life now.
Some time in the last decade I faced the truth that I am firmly in the camp of “middle-aged”. As I talk with women I grew up and women I’ve raised kids with, there is an underlying anxiety about the irreversible march of time. We bemoan the way things settle in the midsection, our lower stores of energy, the impact of those unavoidable shifting hormones.
Sooner or later, women in our society confront the reality of physical aging. With it comes a sort of invisibility when we are out in public. People we meet, both men and women, tend to glance our way and then look past us. The message is clear. Not attractive. Uninteresting. Not relevant.
If our sense of self comes from the appreciation of strangers, this life passage can be painful.
Or, it can liberate us from the need to dress up for the world’s approval.
Many of the women I know have chosen the second option. They determined long ago to invest in the things that are much more than skin deep. They lovingly meet the needs of their friends and family, bring great skill to their workplace, and serve their church and community. Most importantly, they have decided to focus on cultivating a beautiful spirit.
These women have spent a significant amount of time with Jesus. And, as is so often the case, they are becoming more and more like the company they keep. In their faces is the reflected beauty of their Savior. His compassion, his joy, and his peace radiate from them. They have embraced the definition of beauty that is found in 1 Peter 3:4, “your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (Good News translation).
This kind of beautiful has a different magnetism. The women who have nurtured it carry the confidence of an identity that cannot be stolen by the time or by the shallow evaluation of others.
Within these women is a storehouse of the wisdom they have pursued. When asked, they share it freely.
To those who have spent any time with them, these women are irresistible, because they have the gift of helping others feel beautiful too. I have watched younger women seek them out; for what these older women have to teach, but probably even more so for how good it feels to be in their presence.
Maybe, like me, you have experienced that shock from the first morning glance in the bathroom mirror. The face you see looks much older than the way the inner you feels. And maybe, just sometimes, you pluck a gray hair or two in a vain attempt to slow the aging process.
If so, can I invite you to look around, and find one of those women a decade or two beyond you who has become more beautiful with time? She is a promise of what is possible - a contented winter season, reaping the harvest of a lifetime pursuit of true inner beauty.
You and I can wear crowns of far more value than that from any beauty pageant as we live the truth from Proverbs, “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” Let’s wear them with pride. We’ve earned them!