Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Guest Post by Susan Ellis
Note: Susan Ellis is a good friend, co-worker at Capital Bible Seminary, and my co-author for Sacred Friendships. This weekend she posted the following courageous, beautiful, and powerful post, and has given me permission to re-post it here. You can also read the original here.
Oh Vanity, Vanity
The bain of humanity
Mine eyes doth see
Thou hast also, sadly afflicted me
I used to think I wasn’t vain. That was before things started to sag, shift, grey, fade, wrinkle, and, yes, creak. Sigh. Then I was reading James this afternoon…probably should have been wearing my reading glasses, but I digress…Chapter 1 verse 11 says, “For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.” As will our beauty, at least as the world, especially our American culture, sees beauty.
Thankfully, the Lord does not view beauty in the same way and I imagine that at the core of who we are, we don’t either, really. Think about the woman in your life who has the most positive influence on you. Perhaps this is a grandmother, mother, sister, friend, cousin, mentor. Think about the woman who is always there for you no matter what the physical distance is between you. She’s the one who laughs with you, cries with you, and loves you no matter what. She speaks truth into your life whether you like it or not and you love her for it because you know she loves you. She may even chastise you and it’s still ok because you know it’s your best interest that she’s concerned about. Other times she overlooks an offense so grievous that you wish she’d yell at you, but instead, she comforts you and forgives.
Now, close your eyes and picture this woman. I bet you smiled. Maybe you even shed a tear…perhaps because she’s not with you anymore and you miss her, or perhaps your love for her welled up and spilled out your eyes. I imagine you’d say she’s beautiful regardless of how grey her hair might be or how many wrinkles she may have. I bet she has a beautiful smile and I bet when you think about how she dresses that makes you smile. Maybe she’s always dressed to perfection like my grandmother who wore heels and white gloves to the grocery store. Or maybe she wears a fanny pack because she has a propensity to lose a purse when she sets it down…yes, that’s the woman who led me to Christ and discipled me and has been a huge part of my life. She will not be on the cover of Vogue any more than I will be, but they are missing out because she’s one of the most beautiful women I know.
But, Susan, you say, how does that help me? I’m still sagging, graying, fading, and all the rest. Let’s face it ladies, many of us don’t feel as beautiful as we once did, assuming we ever really did feel beautiful in the first place. But, here’s the thing…the thing that really matters…the people who love you, the people you’ve invested in, they, like God, see a beautiful women, just like the woman you were thinking about a moment ago. My mother, grandmother, and close friends have always been and will always be beautiful.
I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t wear make-up or do our hair or wear nice clothes, if we want to. But I am saying let’s not focus on that stuff and by all means let’s not worry and fret over the sagging, etc. I admit that there was a time I’d look in the mirror and wish certain parts of me weren’t sagging. How in the world and when did that happen? And if this is what I look like now, I hate to think what it’s going to be like 20 or 30 years down the road.
Then I felt a lump and the surgeon used the M word on my first visit. Six weeks later I was in my post-op hospital room expecting to freak out when the surgeon took the bandages off to check on me. A mastectomy had always been one of my worst fears. Physically, that part of us (and our hair) says “woman” louder than anything else. And you know what? It doesn’t matter and I don’t give a second thought to the sagging on the other side. Who gives a rip??? Not me. Not anymore. I have my life and I have my health. The exterior stuff doesn’t hold a candle to the rest of it. I finally know experientially what I’ve always said I believe…my womanhood and my beauty are so much more than just the physical. You want to really be a beautiful woman? Invest. Love others with a godly passion. Let God fill you and do what our pastors have been talking about this year. Overflow, be generous with your heart, and let your beauty shine for all the world to see!