A dear friend sent me this beautiful story:
My daughter was hosting a baby shower for her sister-in-law, and I showed up at her house at 9 a.m. to help out. Thinking I would mainly be entertaining the grandchildren, I had already showered and was dressed for the event, although I planned on at least being able to freshen up before the guests started arriving around 2 p.m. Five hours later, sweat threatening to make its ugly appearance onto my clothes, I closed the storage room door behind the vacuum as the first guests arrived. Slipping into the bathroom, I ran my fingers through my hair and dealt with the sweat the best I could with some toilet paper! No time to run home for make up, perfume, or the curling iron. Years ago, this would have upset me. Now, in my sixties, I left the bathroom with an “oh,well” attitude, looking forward to connecting with people I hadn’t seen in years and to celebrating the upcoming birth of twins to a couple who had been praying for children for years.
Many of the women there were former neighbors whom I used to see when our children were all on the neighborhood swim/dive team. One particular woman arrived with her grown daughter, and my mind immediately traveled back in time, as this woman was always the most put-together, beautiful woman ever at any event, whether it was a 7 a.m. swim meet, when the rest of us all looked as though we had just crawled out of bed (which we had), or a neighborhood Christmas party. She was stunning no matter when or where I ever saw her. I had always imagined her as the woman who could vacuum in high heels without missing a beat and never sweating, of course. Now in her early fifties, she was still that put-together woman with perfectly applied make up and fashionable clothes. She was and still is easy to talk with and very kind, not intimidating at all, despite her appearance.
At the point we found ourselves in the same group of gabbing women, she began talking directly to me, asking those questions one asks to get caught up on another’s life happenings, as it had been ten or more years since I had seen her. As others in the group turned to direct their conversations elsewhere, I noticed her staring at me. Wondering if, perhaps, I had a poppy seed stuck in my tooth, I began to experience some embarrassment, even though I had no idea what she was staring at. Suddenly, she started questioning me as to how it was possible for me to look younger and more beautiful than the last time she had seen me! Knowing I had tried to give myself some semblance of eyebrows early that morning and had applied a bit of mascara as my only make up that day, and having a flashback of wiping the sweat from my brow and elsewhere just a short time before, I literally laughed out loud. Thinking she was simply being kind, I replied with some compliment to her looking beautiful as always, and I tried to change the subject. But she was not to be denied! She continued to ask me what it was I was doing to achieve my “youthful beauty,” as she called it.
I was dumbfounded. She was serious. She wanted to know my anti-aging regimen. Was there a certain product I was using? Was it a combination of things? She wanted an answer. She wanted to know the “secret.” Mind you, I had just completed two months of grueling 14-16 hour work days and was going to physical therapy twice a week as therapy for an autoimmune disease causing significant pain in my body. The doctors told me to stop my daily exercise program for the time being, so I had gained back the ten pounds it had taken me the last three years to lose. For someone to actually ask me about beauty secrets had to be a joke. But there she was in my face, actually staring at my face, demanding an answer. No joke here. She was obviously afraid of growing old and was looking for a clue to the fountain of youth. No clue here!
I have no anti-aging regimen or physical beauty secrets, I assured her. Gravity is affecting my aging body just like everyone else. Drooping eyelids testify to it. Wrinkles abound. Age spots are evident. The last time I really looked closely in the mirror, I made the decision not to do it again! Recently wanting to join in the fun of taking “selfies,” I immediately trashed the one I took as the woman in the picture was old and scary looking! No, there is no “youthful beauty” here. What in the world was that woman talking about?
It was actually that very night that I received and read your new book, True Beauty. I obviously could not and did not allay the fears my old friend was experiencing. But I do realize now that I do have a secret, shared by other Christian women, unknown to the aging women of the world who do not know the one most beautiful, our Lord Jesus Christ. The beauty she was seeing was Christ in me, the hope of glory. Yes, my life has been fraught with times of serious trials through which I have learned to trust my Lord and Savior, everything from a child with cancer, cancer myself, infertility, miscarriages, losing my husband to cancer, being a single mom of teenagers, financial struggles, to name a few. I have not felt beautiful through any of it, but I have felt and been loved by the one most beautiful. He has never left my side nor forsaken me. No, he carries me even now as I face losing my job. But in reading your book, I am excited about a new opportunity I will have to grow in godliness as my time opens up. I want to throw myself into those deliberate acts of kindness. I want to devote myself to good works and grow more beautiful doing so. As you wrote in your book, I want to do all the good I can, by all the means I can, in all the ways I can, in all the places I can, at all the times I can, to all the people I can, as long as I can…for the glory of God…and with all the wrinkles and age spots I acquire along the way!