I recently turned thirty. The big three-oh. Three decades under my belt, and starting my fourth one.
I have gray hairs. Lots of them. All over. My face is a little more papery than it used to be. I’ve always had smile lines around my eyes, but now I have crinkles all along my mouth. Parenthesis, I think I heard them called once.
And don’t even get me started on my neck! I try not to turn my head in pictures because it highlights the way the skin pulls and gathers in peaks and valleys. In other words…LOTS of wrinkles! My gorgeous freckles have sort of faded and puddled and turned into age spots instead of charming little dots.
My teeth are a bit too big, and my lips are a little too thin.
I’m a little gangly, and kind of awkward. My back is bony. I used to cringe when people would hug me because I knew they could feel my vertebrae through my shirt. My elbows are pretty much lethal weapons because they’re so sharp. And my legs are bona fide chicken legs.
And while I’m thin, that hasn’t stopped my stomach from packing on a little somethin’ somethin’ to keep my abs warm in the winter. And summer. And spring… And that little extra bit is striped with stretch marks from when I was pregnant with my twins. It’s like a permanent zebra print fanny pack. Yay for me!
But with all these “flaws” I’ve discovered, I’ve recently decided I’ve never felt so beautiful in my life.
Why do I feel beautiful?
I take better care of my skin and hair than I ever have before. I buy clothes (on discount or used) that complement my body and I wear them confidently. But more importantly? I wear clothes that I like. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but when I do, I’ve learned how to apply it to accentuate my long eye lashes and deep green eyes. And I do all of this, of course, because I want to.
But is that what makes me feel beautiful?
Partly, for sure.
When you look at this picture of me, it’s a good representation of what I look like, but it won’t show you all the reasons why I feel beautiful.
It doesn’t show you the three times I was up in the middle of the night because my daughter needed pain medicine or snuggles for her hurt leg. It doesn’t show you the texts I send to friends and family who are sick or need to know someone cares. It doesn’t show you the hours and hours and hours I put in preparing lessons and activities and opportunities to teach the youth in my church how much they are loved by me, by other church leaders, and especially by God.
You don’t see the meals I take to friends or the way I’m learning and trying and praying to be more patient with my son. Why should I get mad at him when he throws fits? I’m thirty and I throw fits!
When you look at a picture of me, you don’t see my impromptu dance parties I throw all the time. All. The. Time. You don’t see me belting out Disney songs 85% of the time I’m home alone with the kids…or the 10% of the time I forget I’m in public and sing “Let It Go!” in the middle of Sam’s Club.
My body may be gray and wrinkly and awkward, but I’m confident. I know what I’m good at (listening and making others feel important, laughing loudly, and Zumba). I know what I’m not good at (baking bread, interior decorating, and being the butt of a joke).
I love this papery skin because it shows you the hours I’ve spent in the sun during swimming lessons, playing at the park and going to nephew’s baseball games. It shows a record of every smile and every frown. I love these gray hairs because they’re a symbol of the life I’ve lived and the lessons I’ve learned. I love this bony body because it’s the only one I have.
I love making people feel important, because they are. I love letting the youth know they have someone who loves them, because I do. I love cuddling my children, because soon they’ll be too big for cuddles. And I’ll cry and cry and cry.
I’m beautiful because of who I am inside and who I’m trying to become.
And if you’ll excuse me, I have two loaves of sunken bread to take out of the oven. And a husband who will smile and eat them anyway.
I’ve told you all about me. Tell me what makes YOU beautiful? Don’t be shy!