Charm is deceptive and Beauty is fleeting…Proverbs 31:30
I’ve lately contemplated that I am the age where my beauty such as it is, is fading. I think of it occasionally, albeit in dependable cycles. It emerges on my birthdays, and on my children’s birthdays since they entered their 20s. It feels oddly illicit to be giving it this much thought at the moment, but in the interest of getting real, I’m confessing it.
I used to not think about it much for a few reasons. The first is that I am of an ethnic group which ages slower than women of other ethnic groups. Play our cards right, and by 60 we easily look 15 or more years younger than our same aged sisters of other groups. There’s even a mantra surrounding our aesthetic longevity: “black don’t crack”.
The jig will eventually be up for all of us however, regardless of melanin count, and on days when lack of rest, improper diet, or stress driven agendas take their toll, the music shows slows down and the jig along with it. It’s rather remarkable the way God designed us to recover relatively quickly if we regroup and recapture our self-care game before the thing gets too out of hand.
The second reason I don’t dwell when I think of the fading effect is because I have been blessed with a love so strong and pure that one look into its eyes reflects a beauty unlike any I have ever seen in a mirror, even during my most comely years. Loving well and being well loved creates an exquisite beauty all its own; unique, unrivaled, and more real than the fleeting version we will all eventually bid adieu.
Rather than viewing this inevitable development as a tragedy, we should remember that growing old is the literal best case scenario. I suppose we could all, gripped by panic and vanity, just die young and beautiful, never encountering the reality of our frailty nor enduring the vanishing vapor of youth. In the rich and prosperous West, the sum total of our desirable years (as determined by our culture) is only 1/3 of our total life span.
Contemplating that fact gives me a profound sense of gratitude for the blessing of a passionate marriage to a man who is passionate in his devotion to and desire for me. Whether or not I am desirable in the larger culture is rendered irrelevant when I’m in the arms of my beloved. My desirability is not in question. Whether or not I am beautiful to the one whose opinion I attach importance to on the matter is settled and unwavering. This is the beauty of marriage over the long haul.
Not everyone will marry, especially in our culture’s current iteration. Part of the reason for that is the way we have bastardized the institution. People walk down the aisle, spout all manner of dishonesty in the form of vows, grow disillusioned, break the vows, lather, rinse, repeat. The transcendent beauty of a love that encompasses all the ups and downs of life enveloping us, our children, and those closest to us with the security of resting on something solid has been abandoned.
Attempting to feel endless excitement from the shallow mirage of novelty, women find themselves unable to ever feel beautiful. How can they, perpetually on the open market? It’s enough to undercut the confidence of all but the most world wizened woman, and the consumer juggernaut takes advantage of every opportunity to dial up the doubts.
Finding the balance between being our best and living with the reality that we must, at some point, succumb to the inevitable is a balance best struck through love. Be grateful for the love of our husbands, and reciprocate it enthusiastically.
The love of our children, sisters, and friends serves as a bulwark against the flood of messages telling us we are ugly, weak, and undeserving of a life full of love and beauty. There is no surer way to walk through every leg of life’s journey with your head held high than giving and receiving love with a grateful heart.
Of course, there’s no money to be made selling that as a beauty treatment, so you’ll have to dig deep and make it happen for yourselves.