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In last month’s news Renee Zellweger appeared before cameras looking unlike her former self. Thinner. Bronzer. A little older.

And her eyes are rounder. Or not as almond-shaped somehow. Not the eyes her fans have come to love.

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Plastic surgeons were asked. Restructuring? Did she or didn’t she?

Nobody knows for sure, and she’s not admitting anything.

My eyes tend to disappear when I smile, too. And I never liked it, until I read about Ms. Z. I understand wanting to fix the flaws we were born with, so I can’t find fault. But when I read the comments about her new look, I realized other people don’t see our imperfections the same way we do.

Ever looked at yourself in a magnifying mirror at a hotel?

After recovering from the shock of seeing my face enlarged ten times, I gave my eyebrows a much-needed re-shaping. Then, oh, my! Viewing the rest of me—every larger-than-life-size pore, wrinkle, hair (Have you any idea how much hair grows on a woman’s face?), every flaw—

Wow! That’s what I look like?! Why didn’t someone tell me?!

Then the decision: Refuse to leave the place without a bag over my head, or continue believing the image I view in soft focus, with aging eyes that don’t see as clearly as they once did.

I finally survived the challenges of adolescence. I learned to accept my less than perfect features. Now in middle age I’m faced with a new challenge: accepting less than perfect aging features—with wrinkles and sags and jowls and flabby arms and thinning hair and forgetfulness… and too many other signs proving this body ain’t as young as it used to be.

And it isn’t getting any younger.

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As time takes over, trying to hold onto my looks from one decade and into the next is impossible.

My hair is still brown—well, some of my hairs are still brown, in between all the gray. And my hair is thinning. Wait—I think I mentioned that already.

My shoulders stoop.

My feet complain.

Ringing in my ears muffles voices, forcing me to ask for a repeat of what was said. Or I could just smile stupidly.

And my waistline keeps expanding.

Wider hips, shorter hikes, smaller meals, less energy… Who is this person, and what happened to the Me I’ve known all my life?!

In nurturing, instructing, disciplining, schooling, and chauffeuring kids, in watching them grow and navigate and survive changes and challenges of their own, moms tend to get neglected. As the nest empties and photos of graduations and engagements and weddings begin collecting, we don’t quite recognize ourselves anymore.

At birthday lunches my friends and I no longer share childbirth stories. We talk of new or former careers no longer on hold. We tell about recent travels. We share photos of grown up kids and grandbabies. We swap healthy recipes. And once we admitted what we’d fix if we had the money.

Because this outer shell doesn’t look (or work) like it used to.

Peering more closely reveals visible differences in this changing, aging body.

But instead of resisting the changes, or denying the evidence confirming a universal process, the Spirit nudges me to relinquish empty ideals, and to meditate and claim His perspective as mine, as I leave youth behind.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.  –  Proverbs 31:30-31

With age comes an appreciation for the beauty and vitality I find beyond physical appearance.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  –  Psalm 92:12-15

I can spend money on nips and tucks, on an aging body that will only need more nips and tucks. Or I can spend time with my Lord, letting Him continue the fashioning and refashioning of who I am on the inside.

There is an ageless beauty in a woman known for selfless living, right pursuits, words of wisdom, a gentle spirit and grace extended. No matter how many birthdays we’ve celebrated, regardless the shape of our ears or eyes, or the size of our jeans, what we value and who we are deep within will be seen through the windows of our soul—in eyes that reveal a love for the One who made us, who knows us, who loves us.

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