I’m trying to branch out. After turning 32, having 2 babies in 2 years, starting to see the changes in my face and body, it’s time to shake it up a little. I’ve joined bootcamp (and loving it! Thanks Shea) to change my health and get in better shape. I’ve started trying new clothing styles, reading different authors, trying to see who I am as I begin my 30’s. So far it’s pretty good. I may have aches where I didn’t have before but it’s interesting being at this stage of life. I am beginning to feel like a full-fledged adult. I’ve heard this happens when you’re in your 30’s. This has got me thinking, though, about who I am and who God has created me to be.
Who we are is most definitely an internal process and knowledge, but who we are on the inside, no matter whether we try to hide it or not, is to a certain extent, reflected externally. My husband, Pete, always says that ‘you earn your face’. What he means by that is your attitudes and experiences are reflected on your face. We’ve met those people on both sides of the spectrum. People that we look at and are drawn to, their face shows evidence of kindness and laughter, and people who set us on our guard; their faces reflect anger, impatience, dissatisfaction with life.
So this started me thinking about how people perceive me. What do they see as they look at me, interact with me? Do they see my growth, my humor, my desire to know God better, my sometime impatience, my exasperation, my self-pity? How do I want to be perceived? As I grow and mature, what are the things that are important to me in how I am perceived? Looks do matter to some extent, I think, if we’re all honest, looking our best, presenting a pleasing appearance. Making sure you’re not wearing the black socks and brown sandal combination. (It’s not good with either pants or shorts, so don’t do it.) Brushing hair, teeth, all of those things that we feel matter as we present ourselves to the world. But because I’m striving to be a woman pleasing to God I need to discern how I want to be perceived by him first, and by others second.
Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
When I think of this woman who fears the Lord she wears her experience and her attributes like a garment. When people look at her, they see strength and dignity covering her. I like to think that I grow in strength daily, with each new experience and each trial. Loss, struggle, and these hard things in life strengthen us and refine us. I hate these times with every ounce of my being but as I have gone through life, the death of my father, financial tough times, broken relationships, I see a new strength in myself after each battle. We all gain strength through just the daily living that comes with being on this broken world.
Dignity is a reflection of how we deal with these tough times. Dignity does not mean that you hide yourself away, paste a smile on your face and take one for the team. When I think of people I have known who exude dignity I see people whose faith is tested and strive to follow God through it. People who love others in the midst of their personal turmoil; people who acknowledge their own brokenness and offer grace to others in the midst of the others’ brokenness. Some of the most dignified people I know are the least snooty people I know. THrough their lives they have sought God and gained strength from Him through good and excruciatingly hard.
I want to be that kind of person. I want others to look at me and see the reflection of my faith in my very being, covering me and surrounding me. I want people to look at me and see my love for God first and my desire to follow him in all things. And, I want to have the strength to laugh at the days to come. There are difficult times that come to all of us, deaths, loss, struggle. There are also great joys, births, growth, graduation, parties, holidays, times of great love and intense worship. As my resilience grows I want to look at both of these things and know from the depths of my soul that God is there with me in all of those times, joyful and sorrowful. So what do I want as I make my way forward through my 30’s and beyond? I want strength and dignity and the joyful laughter that comes from knowing my God’s faithfulness and presence in my life. Hmm…Growing older doesn’t sound so bad…