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An Unforgettable Image of a Woman

vanity-vanityEcclesiastes is one of the challenging but thought-provoking books. It teaches us to think about what is fleeting and about what it eternal. This image of a woman looking into a mirror that is actually a skull is one I’ve never forgotten. I know that I care too much about what I look like, spend too much time and money on my looks, and find myself wondering if it would be okay with the Lord if I got a little tuck!

I do know this will all pass away and what really matters is my heart — how well I love God and others. I know my mother lost some hearing from a facelift! I look at some movie stars who have gotten facelifts and think – oh my – they looked so much better before! And then I think about how the cost of a facelift could feed so many starving children…

Yet it is hard not to care – for the world judges us on our outward appearance, and we want to be ambassadors. God also gave us this body, even if it is going to turn to ashes, and it does have value, if only for a season.

I’d love to hear your ponderings on:

What do you think about facelifts and tummy tucks?

Does it make a difference if you are in public ministry in America?

How do you help yourself not to care so much about the transitory?

How do we stop looking at the outward appearance in others but love their hearts?

Would you help me and your sisters with your prayerful thoughts?

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11 comments

  1. For some reason, I have never thought of a face-lift or a tummy tuck. I want to look my age, for I am proud of having achieved this stage of life. I am 71 and look it, but that is reality. God has done so much work on my spirit and heart and mind, and I thank Him for that. I want to look nice, fix my hair and wear nice clothes for my age, but I don’t feel the need to impress others with my looks. I am not trying to be pious, just realistic. I have enough to do to keep my heart and mind in the right place.

  2. I believe we should do our best with what we’ve got. Now, I look about ten years younger than my age. (I’ve always appeared younger than my typical age.) Still, there are the signs of aging (that I certainly can see) that go with being 55. I’ve accepted those, although that didn’t just happen overnight. I dress very current, have kept my hair long, try to keep up a tan (from product) while the summer season is on and manage my weight. I do what I can and recently have found some very good moisturizers that have caused my skin to look younger, which in turn allows me to feel like I’m younger. I enjoy that! But about three years ago I started to see that I had aged dramatically, for me. To be honest, that bothered me quite a bit. I wasn’t used to the person I was seeing in the mirror. What was shocking to me, was how quickly, like over a years time, this transition had taken place. My appearance is very important to me. I wish it didn’t hold quite as high a place on my subconscious list of priorities, but at the same time, I believe I’ve come to a place of acceptance of those things which I have no control over. I don’t feel I’ll ever go to the extreme of tummy tucks or face lifts. I don’t believe that’s our answer, but we all walk our own walk, don’t we?

    Re: The question, does it make a difference if you’re in public ministry in America?
    Well yes, America says, to be cool, you should look a certain way. But, I wish we weren’t buying into that. I would like to see those in public ministry take a different approach than that of the world.
    I really don’t want those that are in public ministry to alter their bodies, doing whatever they might to “improve” upon their looks. I’d rather they just look like themselves. After all, they are our example or role models. They should look like normal people, not better, just because they feel they need to look good in the public eye. I would appreciate them looking their age. This might even help the average man or woman to be able to identify more with our leader, that being a good thing. Those in public ministry have a great opportunity before them to help shape, at the very least, our Christian society. Some of us could use help getting over ourselves and learning to love ourselves as we are, right where we are! I personally want to grow and expect to, at being more real, not trying to impress anybody. Melva’s got it right and I hope to get there, too.

  3. I wonder if hair coloring falls into this same category as facelifts and tummy-tucks; I believe it does. I am 51 years old and especially in this last year have noticed the grays overtaking my now-drab brown hair. My colleagues, my friends and even my sisters are all around the same age, almost all of whom color their hair and keep asking me when I’m going to start to fix myself up. Not that I have anything against hair coloring, mind you; I did color my hair for a few years in my early 30s just for the fun of it but my hair grows very fast and I grew weary of the expense and time with the upkeep. What sticks in my mind is some advice Aunt Lil gave me when she retired. Now, Aunt Lil was an administrative secretary, dressed very well and kept her black hair colored, always…that is, until she retired. Then, within a matter of 2 weeks without coloring her hair turned from Loving Care black to gray to white. It was like she had aged right before our eyes. The relatives were all agahst and I had to find out why she would just “let herself go.” Aunt Lil said that she decided this time of letting her hair turn white was like any other season of life: wearing your first bra, getting your first kiss, dating, marriage, raising a family, widowhood, empty nest, etc., and she said she believed that each season of life is a gift from God and “This is my time to be gray and I don’t want to miss any season of life that God has planned for me. After all, do I know better than the Lord? He made me to be this way right here, right now, and I aim to enjoy it.”

    Mother Teresa was no beauty queen but her heart was pure. Her beauty came from within. Isn’t that what counts when all is said and done? I’m not trying to say that worldly beauty doesn’t matter for that would be a lie, but I believe it is a fine line as to “how far do I go?” and “when is enough, enough?” Maybe you find the answer deep in your heart, when you are content with yourself.

    1. I agree with your aunt. I colored my hair when I was young, for fun. But now I am proud of my white hair. I earned it. I notice that younger people seem to respect me more when I am out and about, partly because my white hair shows my “maturity”.

  4. I spent a few years coloring my hair when it began turning grey. I hated the upkeep but I wasnt’ ready to be grey. One day my morning reflection was on my grey hair and how I was hiding it. The question the Lord put on my heart was, “From who?” In that reflection it became clear to me that I had earned every one of those grey hairs by a life filled with challenges and blessings. Why would I hide the grace God had bestowed upon me as I walked through the pain? I let my grey grow out and I love my hair now.

    Because of this, every time I look in the mirror, put a finger beside each temple, lift those wrinkles, and watch ten years disappear from my face, I just chuckle and thank the good Lord for the wisdom that has come from earning those sags and bags.

    About the tummy tuck: Oh, that that would help!! I have resigned myself to “matronly” and cannot assign anything but overeating and under-exercising to that one. Would I get a tuck? No. Why? Because I would just eat my way there again.

    What about a public ministry? Dee, I would love listening to you and learn from your wisdom whether you were grey and frumpy or brunette and buff. Feed the starving children instead.

    Does God care about any of this? If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot love others. So I guess if grey hair or jowls or saggy breasts or baggy tummies keep us from loving ourselves, we should do something about it. But, as for God, I do believe God loves us just as we are – no matter how we are. He can count those grey hairs on our head just as easily as he can count brown ones.

  5. I am so glad to see this discussion! Dee, thank you for not going the way of plastic surgery. God, Our Father knows the fleeting quality of beauty. He who made us warns us in Proverbs 31:30 that “charm is deceitful and beauty is passing. But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised”. It is no surprise to Him that as we age the corners are a little worn and the tightness loosens. I Peter 3: 3-5 reinforces this just in case we missed it in the OT.

    I am in my late 50’s and my hair is greying, my shape is changing and my skin, like the vlelveteen rabbit, is showing signs of wear. As I have realized it more and more I have settled in and looked for the positives.

    I now realize that there was a part of me that was in constant low grade competition with other women to look in fashion. And I realize there was a subtle “selfishness and conceit” that was a part of it.

    One day when I was at the mall and walking along looking at other women I said to Our Lord, “I wish I looked like her Lord”, the immediate response that popped into my thinking was, “And do you want her problems too? If she is going to have cancer or dementia do you want that?” No, I want to be content with who God created me to be.

    I will struggle to work out so I can be healthy and as strong as I can be so I can be useful, feel good and be available to God for as long as possible. I fix myself up everyday so as to not offend others and stand out in a negative way. I enjoy looking my best but not the world’s idea of “best”. I like the softness that aging brings, it is a different kind of beauty.

    And I have discovered a new freedom from the bondage of what this culture calls “attractive”. Now, sometimes when I see a woman who is older and it looks like she is still “trying too hard”, I find myself praying for her. There are treasures to discover as we age, and some of them are in the chest marked “Faded Beauty”. I don’t want to miss out on what is inside that one!