I’m looking in the mirror and I analyze the face of this 29 year old girl staring back at me. I realize, she is no longer a girl, but a woman. The crows feet that are beginning to form at the edges of her eyes indicate the years of laughter and smiles she has adorn. The jokes, the memories, the heartfelt joy expressed through the windows of her soul to display a life where happiness has existed.
Gazing at her face, I notice two creases that lead from her nose to the corner of her mouth have become more defined since her last birthday. Those laugh lines represent the first time she ever smiled. Those two lines bear witness to her first kiss and how she could not hide the joy of being chosen, of feeling accepted and special. There is an innate response within a woman the first time she hears the cry of her newborn and overwhelming love and joy force her lips upward, revealing those little wrinkles that time has etched into her skin.
As my eyes wander down to her breasts that aren’t quite as full and perfect as they once were, they symbolize sustainance and sacrifice for her children. Those beautiful breasts nurtured her child for many nights as she cuddled and nuzzled him with warmth and safety. Rocking him slowly, she bonded with him and stared at him with tears in her eyes in wonder that such a perfect creature could come from such an imperfect being. Only God could have created such a miracle and enabled her with the ability to provide for it. Another miracle.
As her hands move around her body, noticing the skin that is a little looser around her stomach than in previous years, the skin on her hands is not as taut either. Her veins have begun to protrude above her skinline and there are more visible lines painted across her fingers like the stroke from a coarse paintbrush. Her nails are chewed down stubs and her hands, although soft, have a thick, leathery feel to them. Those hands have built her home with every backrub, caress, and soft stroke across the forehead. With every cooked meal, washed dish, and clean pair of underwear, her hands are working hands that don’t give way to being idle or lazy. She can sling a hammer, chop some wood and dig dirt with creepy crawlies. She tosses garbage, paints a wall, smacks a hand, wipes away tears, bandages boo boos, and can gut a fish. Those hands are working hands that build her home with love, sacrifice and strength.
Her waist and hips are much wider than in her teen years, but those hips carried 8 pounds of human life and 25 pounds of life “support.” The amniotic fluid that encapsulated the baby enabled God to breath His breath of life into this fetus, creating a new soul to be incorporated into the fabric of humanity forever. This person who did not exist was now real and living within the walls of the girl’s stomach, which also bears the birth mark of life where her umbillical cord was once attached. And so the circle of life continues.
Working my gaze down her body, I take notice to her pettite feet. They too have veins that are slightly raised and the souls are also thick like leather. However, those feet are calloused and hard. Those feet have had to walk through many dark situations in life. They have walked alone, they have run from tyranny. They have walked with God, they have run to safety. Those feet have lead and at times they have followed. They have been stepped on and have walked all over others. They have explored the unknown and have sought to be found. The souls of those feet are soft but fearless. She has gone where many others refuse to go and she waits for no one. Determined and motivated she refuses to give up because she is strong. She is a fighter. She is a survivor. She is a thriver.
After so many years, it is hard to recognize this woman in the mirror who seems to be like a hologram. There are many angles from which to see her and each one is different. Some angles aren’t as pretty as others, but they are real. They are not covered by ignorance, denial or superficiality. And she is as beautiful today as she always has been and always will be. Each flaw, each imperfection is what makes her unique and adds to her life experience. She consciously wears each wrinkle, vein, and stretch mark as a badge of honor for a life well lived. For without a wrinkle, how would one ever know that you have smiled and seen happiness? Or experienced the same pain of hardship and loss as everyone else? With each gray hair, wisdom, experience and knowledge is attributed to the ability to live the years neccessary to achieve those silver locks. God has blessed this girl in the mirror with 29 years of life! She is not growing old, she is experiencing the very thing God has put her on this Earth to experience… his LOVE, his creation, and LIFE! What she decides to do with it is entirely up to her. Life is a battle, our mind is the battlefield. For each victory, she is one step closer to winning the war. So she wears each badge of honor with pride and humility. We all have them. And only a sick and unrealistic world will tell us we have to hide or fix them. They are trophies. They are beautiful. They are real. And they are evidence of a life well lived…