“Wrinkles will only go where the smiles have been.”
– Jimmy Buffet
My cousin stopped by the other day to visit. In the course of our visit, he interrupted himself and said, “I need to buy some make-up for you. You gotta wear make-up so you’d look more presentable.” I laughed (thinking to myself, “Who cares?”) and thought of this poem by Yeats. The poet wrote,
If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror
No vanity’s displayed:
I’m looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.
(“Before the World Was Made” from the poem “A Woman Young and Old”).
I know that we all age and gravity is at work… we’re going back to dust. We lose elasticity, eyebrows thinning, and we wonder what happened to that youthful skin. LOL. My high-school teacher once said, “Beauty is only a skin deep.” I was fifteen at the time and it was just a statement. Nothing more. Aging just kind-of sneak up on you. Years later I got what he meant about that skin thing. I was never a glowing beauty but the skin I knew is no longer here. Part of aging also accompanies strength, courage, and contentment of the heart.
Yes, that’s it. When we take a second glance in the mirror, when you pause to look again at a photograph, we are looking for a glory you know you were meant to have, if only because you know you long to have it. You remember faintly that you were once more than what you have become. Your story didn’t start with sin, and thank God, it does not end with sin. It ends with glory restored: “Those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). And “in the meantime,” you have been transformed, and you are being transformed. You’ve been given a new heart. Now God is restoring your glory. He is bringing you fully alive. Because the glory of God is you fully alive.
“Well, then, if this is all true, why don’t I see it?” Precisely. Exactly. Now we are reaching my point. The fact that you do not see your good heart and your glory is only proof of how effective the assault has been. We don’t see ourselves clearly.” ~ Eldredge in WAKE THE DEAD