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Monday, March 21, 2011

Would you go back in time, if you could?

I once took part in a survey that asked the question 'If you could go back in time, would you?' I thought long and hard about that. Wouldn't we all like to have the long, lustrous (grey-free) hair again, the slim figures, the free time? (Music playing.... images rolling by in a soft mist of flowing hair and laughter... freeze frame...fast forward...)

In all honesty, I have gone through times when I've looked at myself in the mirror and thought 'I wish I wasn't losing hair' or 'I wish I wasn't so flabby', 'I wish I didn't have all these stretch marks', 'I wish I could look the way I did 20 or 22 years ago'. Who hasn't?

This world puts so much emphasis on beauty and its version of what that is. You're only beautiful to the world if you have perfect skin, hair, wear a size 5 (?) and all your teeth are white and straight. You're only beautiful if you have the latest fashions, accessories and hairstyles.

Its easy to get caught up in the hype. You kiss your husband goodbye in your nightclothes and send him off into a world where he's surrounded by the secular and 'beautiful', where he is bombarded with images on billboards, newspapers, magazines, the computer screen, the office television, of what he should believe is 'beautiful'. There may even be 'beauty' all around him where he works.

As a homemaker, I've made sacrifices to be able to be at home. One of which is, I don't ever have the spare cash to run to the hair stylist for the latest style. Over the years, I've let my hair grow out, not coloured it or styled it for long, long periods of time. I haven't kept up with fashion because, firstly, I dress to please myself and not others, secondly, because we never have the extra money for me to go shoppping regularly. I'm too practical to spend money doing manicures and pedicures that I can give myself and which don't last anyway with my hands in everything they have to go in (can't see myself kneading bread dough with long red polished nails!)

Honestly, I have spent so much time in the past, worrying about whether or not I could measure up to the 'beautiful' standards of the world. That old adage that wisdom comes with age... its absolutely true! If I could go back, I would go back just simply to have the wisdom and knowledge I have now.

In my weak moments, I sometimes still feel a bit insecure about how I look, especially in relation to keeping myself attractive for my husband. Most of the time though, this is what I feel:

I've earned every single grey hair in my head, they are evidence that I'm growing in wisdom...

.....my stretch marks and c-section scar are evidence of the fruit of my womb.. 4 beautiful daughters

......................I may not dress like the 'beautiful' women in magazines and tv shows, but I know I don't embarass my teenaged daughters by trying to look as if I'm the same age as they are.(and believe me, they talk all the time about the parents of their peers!)

....................I could lose 20 pounds and I hope to, but when my husband holds me, he's loving all of me and my soft curves fit perfectly to him. His words, not mine ;-)

What is 'beauty' anyway?

Maybe, its what your husband sees in your heart.

Perhaps, when he looks at you in your nightclothes, kissing him goodbye, he's leaving with that image to warm his heart and the memory of the way you felt in his arms before he got out of bed.

Maybe, its what he sees when he strokes back the hair from your forehead and the shadows under your eyes tell him of the hours you spent awake with your sick child and he's thinking what a wonderful, caring mother his children have.

Maybe, its what he feels in the softness of your body when he holds you close, glad to be home and out of the pressures the world places on him.

Or, is it the love he sees in your eyes every single day. The way you 'kiss him like you mean it' (Courtney Joseph's words ;-). The sweet way you love him, hold him, support his dreams and goals.

What makes us beautiful to our husbands? Maybe we should ask them one day, but I know for sure, in my case, its definitely not what the world considers 'beautiful'.

Putting aside this rather shallow and vain reason to go back in time... I wouldn't want to be the person that I used to be. The woman that I am now has learned hard life lessons, been purified in the fires of trial and tribulation, molded and shaped by long-suffering endurance. She's shed self-centredness and vanity, learnt that you never stop learning and growing. Above all, she's received, by God's Grace, a new heart that continues to expand its capacity to love, forgive and nurture.

So, in answer to that question........

No, I wouldn't go back.. every single thing that I've gone through in my life has brought me to this point, has created me as I am. Is God done molding me? NO WAY, daily I see how much He's still working on me, on my marriage and wifehood, on my motherhood and on my relationships with others.

Growing older in God's grace is a wonderful privilege. I hope someday to be like the older couple I saw in my church a short time ago. Every morning, for about a week, they would sit in front of me and I marvelled at them. He looked ancient.. at least in his late 80's, yet his back was straight and he knelt reverently whenever he was required to. He held his wife's hand all the time. He touched her constantly, put his arm around her and assisted her to and from her seat, even though she looked much younger than he was and didn't appear to need any help.

His caring was evident in his body language as was his obvious reverence for God. I couldn't help but wonder how many years these people had been married. I wondered if God would also give my husband and I the grace to grow old together, if He would continue to bless our union and our love for each other and take us to newer heights each year.

So, as I go through each new season of life, I pray that I will embrace them and grow older gracefully and with wisdom to impart to the children of my children. And I pray that God will see fit to have my husband right there alongside me, holding my hand and giving me his love and support.

I wouldn't go back... would you?

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