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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Aging with Grace

I turned 34 this summer. So far in this life birthdays haven't given me much pause. My birthday lands on a national holiday so there's always pomp and circumstance I don't have to manufacture and I am generally able to be swept along in the celebration without much thought to what the passing of time means.

This year feels different.

As I glide inevitably into middle age I can't help but notice the toll life has taken on my body. I used to look at other girls' chests with envy. I've always had small boobs and in high school I was pained by them. After I had kids I started envying stomachs. Flat, smooth, slightly concave stomachs.  I knew I'd never have that again.

This past year I started noticing foreheads. I now admire a smooth forehead the way a car junkie admires a late model GTO. I have been known to Google actresses to confirm my suspicion that their foreheads have had a little TLC.

When I'm 60 will I (ridiculously) envy the tight elbows of 40 year olds? At some point I have to make peace with the process of growing old.

I've heard it said that whatever you base your worth on will be the standard by which you are judged. How much of my confidence have I placed in this fragile body that is dying day by day? Do I expect a place at the table because of the way I look? Or have I carved out a life based on the contributions of my heart and soul in the lives of others? One will carry me through to the end, the other is fading daily.

That's the reason for the big header picture of me in a two-piece. Yup - a bikini pic. On the world-wide web for all to see. I never would have posted the picture above in my twenties. I would have worried what everyone else would have thought.

My legs look wobbly. They'll think I'm vain. My stomach sags. They might not think I'm beautiful...

I don't look or act like I did when I was 24 but this past decade has molded me in some beautiful ways. And dang it, that body is healthy and strong and also as un-perfect as it can be. I want to lead the way in showing up in all my imperfection. Not resting in it or wallowing in it, but also not shoving it under a rug and pretending every thing about me is shiny and tight.

BJ and I keep having these conversations about being the people we say we want to be. Trying to line up who we actually are and how we actually live our lives with the way we want to be perceived by others. Getting those two selves to be so closely aligned that they are mostly identical. Acting privately in the way we act in front of others and actually being who we say we want to be. 

Part of that is accepting our bodies. Loving what they are capable of doing and letting go of the bodies we had even four short years ago. I love these words from Paul, a Jesus follower in the first century A.D. 

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, 
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." 
(2 Corinthians 4:16)

I honestly can't say I'm there yet. Sometimes I glance in the mirror and lose heart. Or I get hyper-focused on all the things I'm not and forget that I am enough because of the grace of Jesus.

But it's something I am working toward. Focusing on my inner renewal more than my outward appearance. Embracing middle age with a great big hug and arms wide-open to what is yet to come. Being the girl I want to be, the girl who enjoys each day for the gift it is. The girl aging with grace. 

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