“We just get better looking with age” –Diane
“The older the better” –Edith
My daughter Jane has always been small for her age. We don’t usually notice her size because her personality fills the room. But when she stands next to her peers, it is apparent that she is unusually small. She plays on her school basketball team and nearly drowns in her uniform. Last Thursday she brought home the new team warm-up suit I paid $40 for. Although it was an XS, it looked much too big. When she put it on, she sighed and said, “Why can’t I just be normal?”
Her question bothered me because she tends to be strong and self-confident. My response was “You are beautiful and perfect, just the way you are.” I told her to “love the skin you are in.” I thought a lot about this because, while I truly love my daughter just the way she is, I sometimes don’t give myself the same courtesy.
It just so happened that I was having these thoughts on my 35th birthday. Getting older gives us all the opportunity to confront the social expectations for aging and beauty. While I know 35 isn’t old, it was a shock how I resisted it emotionally. I wanted to stay young … you know like in my 20s … forever.
I have the blessing and opportunity of sharing my birthday with two dear friends Diane and Edith. Diane is a grandmother and Edith is a great-grandmother. The day before our birthday, Diane and I shared a laugh about how “we just get better looking with age.” Her positive attitude about aging was infectious. Edith also shared with me some profound wisdom. “The older the better!” she said. I don’t remember her exact words so I won’t quote her, but she went on to say that she had experienced a lot and learned a lot and wouldn’t want to relive any of it. I think my friends are right! If we are doing our best to become who God knows we can become, we can go ahead and throw out the wrinkle cream, because we can’t help but grow more beautiful every year.
Marjorie Pay Hinckley was a beautiful and radiant woman. Her inspiring words put beauty and image into perspective and help me understand what is really important in life.
I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with grass stains on my shoes from mowing Sister Schenk’s lawn.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden.
I want to be there with the children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”