It’s not that I’m ANTI-anti-aging products; I just haven’t found many that deliver on their promises. And how come she still looks good but when I use a charcoal mask I look like a gorilla?
The Anti-Aging industry is replete with advertisements containing Re-words; ads offering hope that you really can turn back the clock (just click here and enter your VISA#)
The promises these products make are seductive, aren’t they?
- Repair your wrinkles
- Restore your youthful looks
- Reduce your age spots
Remember what the prefix “Re-” means? Again… back… once more.
Oh, to have that dewy fresh complexion again, to have my collagen back, to once more experience the glow of youth. Sigh.
Nah, I don’t want to be young again. But if I could have the hard-earned wisdom this 65 year-old has acquired coupled with the fresh-face of my 20-year-old self, I wouldn’t hate it.
A younger friend of mine (46) is just starting to experience the effects of aging: she tells a funny story about how she went on this crazy make-up purchasing binge, a desperate but misguided attempt, she later realized, to feel confident again.
For her the obsession was eyeshadow; for me it’s neck cream, except all the neck creams that work cost an arm and a leg, and that’s too many body parts to deal with at one time. Guess I’ll have to stick with turtlenecks. But seriously, what happened to my neck?
In my fifties, I shocked people when I told them my age.
Friends praised my peaches and cream complexion, my lack of wrinkles and my thick hair. I felt sorry for them when they bemoaned their wrinkles and thinning hair but secretly I was thrilled I didn’t have those problems. Then, practically overnight, it happened.
I got old.
Red blotches appeared that no amount of concealer concealed. Then brown spots. Great.
My mom had those and I remember thinking, “What in the world is going on with your face?” Oh, the arrogance of youth.
There were more surprises when my hair thinned out and the natural reddish hue faded to a mousey brown interspersed with grey. My eyebrows grew sparse and the left one began to turn silver. Only the left one. Yay.
So now at 65, I’m shocked every time I see a picture of myself. Our family has very few photos of our Mom for that very reason. Even though we thought she was beautiful, she rarely let us take her picture. I don’t want to go there, but in this visual, selfie-obsessed, Instagram world it’s hard not to.
This is Mom, when she was my age. Wasn’t she pretty?
Reality check of being 65
- too old for stiletto heels, too young for Aerosoles. (or too stubborn)
- eligible for free coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and discount movie tickets
- eyelids so droopy applying liner is like trying to draw a straight line on a soggy Kleenex.
(I asked an aesthetician about permanent liner and she looked at me weird then said, “Maybe after you get your eyes lifted.”)
A mature woman.
But in my head? I’m eleven; that awkward stage of, “too old for anklets and Mary Jane’s” and “too young for nylons and heels.”
When I was eleven, I still played with Barbie dolls; I wanted to BE Barbie, but by twelve I realized my Northern Italian genes were conspiring against me.
Not. Going. To. Happen.
I came to grips with the whole Barbie thing a long time ago. Ok, fine, I’m not Barbie, but now I look in the mirror and I’m not even Sue! Barbie’s not my idol but it seems “Young Sue” is.
Who is this woman I see in the mirror? Why can’t I be more kind to her? How come I suddenly feel so uncomfortable in my own skin?
I compensate with self-deprecating humor and expensive skin cream. FYI – Coconut oil seems to work just as well.
Aging is an upward climb in a body that has given way to gravity.
What’s a girl to do? How do we wage war on the anti-aging message our culture bombards us with? Some would say we do it by declaring our own messages, what the self-help crowd calls affirmations.
There’s a line in our family’s favorite movie, “What About Bob?” where Bob, a raging agoraphobic, uses affirmations to quiet and disrupt the rising panic he experiences every time he steps outside his door: “I feel good; I feel great; I feel wonderful.”
Yeah, it didn’t help Bob and it doesn’t help me, either.
The world has affirmations; we have God’s Word.
What do the Scriptures say about aging? And what do we do with our hearts? Is it ok to ask God to rejuvenate us? Because the products I’ve spent so much money on aren’t working and frankly, I’m tired of trying to be somebody I’m not.
How in the world are we supposed to make peace with this process? I’m desperate to know because my daughters are watching, and so are my granddaughters.
It’s painful when I realize the real issue… vanity.
Strange that vanity didn’t fully reveal its true face while I was in the glow of youth. It’s only now, that I have ‘lost face’ that it rears its ugly head.
But now I see it for what it is—a green-eyed, jealous monster that keeps me from loving myself and others; it prevents me from being present.Vanity makes everything about me. Click To Tweet
It’s the thing trying to convince me I’m not enough, or that I’m more than enough and others are lacking.
Remember that old Four Season’s song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You?” Switch the “you” to “me” and it takes on a whole new melody.
Pardon the way that I stare (at myself)
There’s nothing else to compare (to me, unless its you and you look better than me)
The sight of you leaves me weak (why do you look so much better than me?)
There are no words left to speak (except, “I used to look so much better than this”)
We typically think of vanity in terms of conceit or undue self-esteem. Interestingly, the word vanity occurs almost 100 times in the King James version of the Bible, but never in that sense. It means emptiness, worthless, futility, devoid of real value, unprofitable.
No matter what reflection peers back at me from the mirror, the preoccupation with self is an empty pursuit. It’s a waste of time, and I am the poorer for it and so are all the people I come in contact with.
I am good enough but not because of how I look. Like recording artist India.arie sings, “I am not my hair,” (or my complexion or my saggy butt.)
All the expensive skin care, hair dye and positive self-talk can’t change the fact that I am changing. How I respond to the changes is up to me.
The good news?
I serve a God who never changes.
His Word never changes either; look at what it says:
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7
Father looks at my heart and calls me daughter. The I AM tells me that I am:
- Highly favored
Member of God’s household
Citizen of heaven
Seated in heavenly places
Alive with Christ
Complete in Christ
Raised up with Christ
I am a child of the Most High God.
“Even when you are old, I will take care of you, even when you have GREY HAIR, I will carry you. I made you and I will support you; I will carry you and rescue you.” Is 46:4
Positive affirmations might give me the confidence to get out the door, but God’s word will carry me through my day and into eternity.
“… who satisfies your life with good things so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.” Ps 103:5
What are those good things that will make us feel young again?
The phrase “good things” means beautiful, bountiful, best, better, (superlatives) good, joyful, kindness, loving, merry, pleasant, pleasure, precious, prosperity, sweet, wealth, welfare.
Who is the source of all those good things?
Our good, good, Father.
He satisfies us with Himself. My secret anti-aging discovery has nothing to do with creams, serums or potions; it’s an inside job.God wants to renew, repair and rebuild our youth as much as we do, but He goes at it from the inside out. Click To Tweet
The best kept secret
During my research I learned a new word, neoteny. It’s from a Greek word neos, which means, new, fresh, youthful. Neoteny is “the retention of youthful qualities by adults.”
It’s not about appearance or wearing youthful clothes; it’s about being curious, playful, eager, fearless, warm, energetic, open, willing to take risks, hungry for knowledge and experience, courageous and eager to see what the new day brings.
Neoteny is the very heart of what the kingdom of God is all about:
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:2
Would you all agree that the road we’re traveling at this point is pretty much an uphill climb?
Psalm 24 talks about this very thing. “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?” It’s comparing the entire life of a Christian to ascending a mountain.
If we keep our eyes on Jesus, the higher we climb, the more we begin to look like Jesus. And more like our true selves.
Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, And revive me in Thy ways. Psalm 119:37
Now that I am old and my hair is gray, don’t leave me, God. I must tell the next generation about your power and greatness. God, your goodness reaches far above the skies. You have done wonderful things. God, there is no one like you. Psalm 71:18-19
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green…Ps 92:14
* I loved writing a lighter post for you guys this week, but I’m SUPER excited about what’s coming up next! The whole concept of comparing the life of a Christian to ascending a mountain has got me pulling out my hiking boots. Stay tuned for a new series on Mountain Climbing – the provisions you’ll need, the traveling companions and above all, a knowledgeable guide.