Ladies, don’t be afraid to grow old
I wade into this territory delicately for two reasons.
One, I am a man. As a man, I recognize my experiences and perspectives are likely different from the majority of those reading this article. I ask in advance for grace regarding any unperceived lines I may cross. Second, I recognize this topic is highly personal and ingrained deeply in the conscious of my sisters in Christ. I hope to provide encouragement and peace – not anxiety. That being said, here we go:
Ladies, don’t be afraid to grow old.
As I consider the mass marketing strategies and walk past aisle after aisle of beauty “correction” products, I can’t help but feel a degree of hurt for my sisters in Christ. From an outside perspective, it seems much of what is daily put before you is a standard and expectation of physical appearance that can only be daunting to strive for.
Beyond that, it seems you are being continually pushed toward a fountain of youth that not only is a mirage, but seeks to orient you toward reversing the effects of age – a tide no person can swim against. Time only goes in one direction, and physically, so do we.
I hesitantly admit, it seems the majority of women I love, admire and respect are engaged in battle against a perceived enemy at work in their own bodies. My dear sisters, you must be tired.
If I may ask, who told you your wrinkles are wrong?
Who told you the younger, leaner, more colorful version of yourself was better – that it is to be coveted?
Who waters those seeds of discontent in your heart?
Proverbs 31 talks about a woman of true beauty – an ideal – one who fears the Lord. She is marked by unique traits which can be viewed in three categories of life: Relational, Volitional and Physical.
Relationally, she does good to her husband (v. 12), is generous and benevolent to the needy (v. 20), teaches with kindness (v. 26) and, as a result, is praised openly by her trusting husband and children (vv. 11, 28).
Volitionally, she is industrious (vv. 13, 14, 16, 19, 22, 24, 27), works diligently (vv. 15, 18, 27) and, as a result, dwells in security (vv. 21, 25).
Physically, she is strong (v. 17), dignified and joyfully confident (v. 25).
Notice, the physical aspect of the woman who is to be praised is the least mentioned. However, if we were to speculate what such a woman would look like, we might assume a few things:
As one who has children, her body probably bears a few scars, and her hair has likely grayed from weariness.
As one who is generous and benevolent, she probably is not clothed extravagantly or in excess.
As one who works with her hands and travels distances to buy and sell, she likely has some callouses, bunions and travel fatigue.
As one who stays up late and rises early, she probably has bags under her eyes and a functional hairdo.
Her joyful expressions over time result in well-worn wrinkles. Her hours of prayerful concern line her forehead.
She grows older – and she is beautiful.
A woman does not have to be married, have children, own a business, or even be old to be praised. She does not need messy hair, wrinkled crow’s feet and subdued clothing to be beautiful. But she also shouldn’t be afraid of these things.
Taking care of our bodies is important, and we should always present our capable best in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. The Bible has much to say about being a caring steward of our physical person.
But we must always remember that the way we display our bodies tells something to the world about what we believe. If we place the world’s voices, images and standards above God’s, it shows where we genuinely find value. If we continually chase youth, we may resent age, experience and accumulated work.
As a Christian man, when I see women vainly chasing an image of youth, it does not make me admire them – it makes me sad.
Ladies, wherever you are on your journey in life, don’t be ashamed of the path on which God has brought you and the scars that show you were there. Don’t be conformed to the idea that youth is the standard of beauty, but embrace the surpassing beauty of experience, wisdom, relational investment, volitional aptitude and physical strength.
We, your Christian brothers are rooting for you. Grow old with grace and dignity, and you will be truly clothed with beauty and adored by those who call you blessed.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” – Proverbs 31:30.