Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Choosing to Behold Beauty

Like many women I suspect, I've spent the majority of my lifetime scrutinizing my own appearance, gazing in the mirror, usually disliking what I see, wishing what I found peering back at me was something decidedly...else. Be it longer, taller, bustier, less, freckled, thinner, less wrinkled, narrower, stronger, more bodacious, leaner, smoother, straighter, the list goes on. Over and again, I've done what most of us have at one time or another - I've compared myself to others and come up short. A whopping, nearly 5'2 to be exact.

The somewhat sad irony is that as I've gotten older and naturally more confident in my own skin, (which I believe is one of the wonderfully welcome byproducts of aging!) as I've grown in willingness to graciously accept myself for exactly what I am (and what I am not!) that body I have been so hard on all these years has begun to change. And, not really for the better. What used to come easily, such as maintaining a weight I (and my pesky, unwavering jeans) find desirable, now takes a good bit more effort. On a day when I'm feeling blue, indulging in something like, say, a whole pan of rice krispie treats no longer has no noticeable effect.

In my own mind's eye, still imagining myself as the same youthful girl I was, I am sometimes surprised to catch an unexpected glimpse of myself in the mirror. Like when I'm walking through Ikea with my husband and I find myself looking terrifically middle aged. My ever progressing face doesn't always seem the proper companion for my eternally young heart.

As I've made a concerted effort to go noticeably easier on myself in an attempt to provide an example to my daughters worth emulating, I've realized I hold the power to reframe the definition of beauty to mean whatever I want it to mean.

I can, by conscious choice, look at the skin of my face, the ever deepening lines as a true gift. A treasure allotted exclusively because of time on our earth. They are evidence of the hours and days and years I've had to soak up the goodness of this one, infinitely valuable, precious beyond comprehension, fleeting like a vapor before my creased eyes, life.

I can appreciate my body, this one and only vehicle I've been given, this mechanism that holds my hopes and my dreams, my aspirations for the future, my history, my thoughts and desires, my pains and disappointments, heartaches and moments of despair, my vision, for exactly what it is throughout every season I am granted.

It is this body that affords me the opportunity to serve my children, to shower affection upon my husband, to pet my dog. My eyes allow me to read books that captivate my mind and challenge my soul, my mouth lets me speak words that will bless and build. My voice can send laughter into the room, warming the hearts of my people. I am able to run and play and frolic and jump and skip and walk and watch the sun set and the sun rise and breathe in deeply fresh air. I get to dance. Sometimes, in the rain. I can mourn with you, rejoice with you, commiserate and lift you with sincere sentiments of encouragement. The lines around my eyes, they crinkle with delight at the sight of your face when I greet you. My changing hands with these new spots on them, they gladly cook and tirelessly clean. They prepare a home where our lives can unfold. My body has held the privilege and capability of giving birth to a brand new being, five times over. My arms have cradled my babies, my lips have kissed their cheeks, my voice has soothed their sorrows, my presence has delighted their souls, and it continues to do so as they grow.

It is all so truly miraculous.

This vessel, this flawed clay cistern, is uniquely wonderful, with every one its emerging cracks and crevices. It is the avenue by which I express love that will linger in the hearts of my beloveds long after I am gone.

It is what holds me. When I really stop to think about all that entails, I can not help but decide to find it boundlessly, breathtakingly beautiful.

 Speaking of beautiful, my sweet Jayla made all her valentines for school and helped her siblings do the same. ♥♥♥

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