I've enjoyed my own, my daughters' and my grand-daughters' absolute and resolute concentration, nervousness, and delight learning to apply mascara, eye shadow, rouge, lipstick, and various shades of nail polish. I've seen myself, my daughters and my grand- daughters exercise to keep our bodies strong as well as beautiful, flexible as well as lean. And dieting? It never ends!
Well, why not? Our bodies, our appearances, are gifts from God, to be treasured and taken care of. Each one of us has been individually and lovingly designed by our Maker.
Each one of us. I smile at the smiling face of a girl with Down's Syndrome, make-up artfully applied, hair styled lovingly, ready for her Prom. The proud warrior woman, bald from chemotherapy. The cute little fourteen year old in a bathing suit, proud of her body in spite of being harassed by anonymous nasty remarks singling out one body part. All beautiful, irreplaceable!
Yet, looking in the mirror now at my face and body, I remember the numerous times I cried, feeling absolutely ugly and unlovable as I looked at my latest surgery scars. Surgery scars criss-cross my body from head to foot now, as surgeons have removed my thyroid, uterus, ovary, gall bladder. I have a scar from a breast biopsy. I've endured the bloody removal of numerous in-grown toenails.
With each surgery, I've felt less and less an attractive woman. Yet each time I received a new scar, my husband said simply "I love you. I married the person, not the body." And showed me, with words and actions that he meant it.
People may say that marriage is just a piece of paper. For me, marriage is and was standing in a Church, in front of our community, and both of us saying out loud "I take you for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part, so help me God." We hear our words and each others'. So does the community, because we're promising that our shared lives will help make a stronger community. So does God. He expects to be the Source and Strength of our union.
That kind of commitment to another can only last if we look past each others' faces and body parts, below the skin and muscle and bone, deep into each others' hearts, minds, and souls. Shared children and interests help us to go that deep with each other. Shared values and prayer help the most.
Because, regardless of the best plastic surgery and the best medicine, our bodies eventually wear out. We carry each others' walkers. We sit next to the other in Hospice. That unavoidable grief is incalculable and unbearable unless we see past our own and each others' white hair, arthritis, scars, and wrinkles and know and believe that each of us is a beautiful crown, a precious, eternal, forever beautiful miracle in the hand of our God.