My hair, inherited from my father? Thin and lifeless.
My eyes, also from my father? Hazel--and not an outstanding hazel.
My acne, starting at age 12 and not improving until I nursed my first baby? Well, inherited from my mother, it aged me very young and made for a painful teen and twenties era. I still get some acne, but not enough to cause despair.
And now, at 49, my eyes have developed red streaks from wearing the same pair of extended-wear contacts too long, before obtaining an eye appointment and buying new ones. For the first time since the seventh grade, I had to buy a pair of glasses for my nearly-legally blind prescription. Before, I always refused to order a pair, due to the extra cost beyond the contacts, and because I knew they would be thick and ugly.
But recently, an optician convinced me to order a back-up pair of glasses for when my eyes needed a break from contacts, or for when we ran out of money and couldn't order new contacts on time. He said the glasses would include a built-in bifocal to serve as the reading glasses I now use over my contacts.
He also said, "Oh, don't worry. New technology means they won't be as thick as you think."
My husband picked the glasses up yesterday and I ran and took my loaner lenses out of my eyes, which hadn't improved the ugly red blood vessels very much. Because of the red, irritated appearance of my eyes, the doctor requested I go back to be rechecked before he would give me a contact-lens prescription.
Making a mental drum-roll, I put the glasses on, eager for a solution to my oxygen-craving eyes.
Ugly, ugly, ugly. No doubt about it...ugly.
I wanted to cry. My eyes looked miniscule because of the magnification, and my face was distorted through my glasses. And since I hadn't worn glasses (except reading glasses) since the seventh grade, everything was strange. My children's clothes when I pulled them out of the dryer looked really small. I couldn't tell Mary's clothes from Beth's, or Peter's clothes from Paul's, except from memory. When I perused the cupboard for a can of diced tomatoes, I kept thinking I was looking at tiny tomato paste cans instead of 15-oz cans. Anything circular was distorted.
And to read on the computer, I have to cock up my neck to benefit from the bifocals.
I went on with my mothering duties and tried to forget about my ever-increasing ugliness. I knew my family was, though loving, still dismayed at Mommy's new appearance. I knew my ever-increasing white hairs made everything worse, as did the ever-increasing wrinkles on my 49-year-old face.
When I was living in Sicily at age 12, I liked to walk around our military-housing neighborhood, located on a cliff above the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. A friend from school always walked with me, and still, I vividly remember the time we ran into an Italian teen. He said to my friend after looking me up and down: "She has a good body but an ugly face." I didn't get the Italian words at the time, but she did and she repeated them to me.
At 49 my body doesn't look too terribly awful, but I won't be posing in it the way Cindy Crawford trustingly did.
But my face? Worse than ever.
What is a woman to do? Before children, I used to buy nice clothes to offset my bad points, but now I can only hope for a few good pieces from Goodwill, and they don't help much.
I was forced to go to Scripture and to my Savior in all things, to process my feelings. There was no salve, no help, no comfort from the world. Coloring hair is expensive. Plastic surgery to fix acne scars is expensive, and laser surgery for nearsightedness is expensive. Even if I had the money I would give more to Compassion and sponsor another child instead of considering these options.
God loves me. He even loves my ugly-to-the-world face. My husband loves me. My children love me. I get to minister to and love them all, and serve them in many ways. I get to. My life is rich. My heart is rich.
Anything that leads to greater humility? It is a gift. And more than that, God does not make mistakes. He loves my face and my hair and my -8.0 nearsighted eyes. And if He loves all of it? If He has ordained it for me? I must love it, too.
Psalm 139:13-14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
1 John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Peter 3:3-4 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Luke 12:7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”