Confession: Aging is throwing me for a loop.
Especially this past year. It is like I woke up one morning and looked 20+ years older. The dark circles under my eyes, the ever increasing forehead wrinkles, and the more locating of sagging skin in places that were never that well, saggy.
And honestly I hate all of it.
But there is this deep seeded tension I keep wrestling with: Why am I so fixated on controlling beauty and physical appearance? Why do I linger in the mirror a little longer and hover over pictures--zooming in to magnify all these blemishes that keep coming my way?
And then I think about my faith...I think about how crazy strong the currents of our society are on the topic of beauty. I think about how we have been taught to chase the appearance of perfection.
And then I think about what God thinks when He looks down from heaven at His children spending all this energy obsessing over beauty and perfection.
This past week my counselor boldly called out some really ugly perceptions about how my eyes and mind define beauty. And I needed to hear every word he said.
On paper, I have pretty good vision. I have never had to wear contacts. But just because my external vision is decent does not mean my internal vision is the same.
No, my internal vision, the way I truly define beauty is horribly jaded. If my eyes don't like what they see, I create what I call the perfect picture. It is more than a definition and expectation. In my head, it is exactly what reality is suppose to look like; it is perfection.
And I want perfection in all of it: perfect skin, perfect family, perfect marriage, perfect job, perfect processes. Because if all these areas of life are operating perfectly as I desire, then I will be okay. My world and everything in it will be okay.
There are things that God detests, and one of those things is when His children chase idols instead of seeking and trusting Him.
My counselor looked me in the eye and essentially said: You are chasing an idol. You think the expectations of perfection you have in your head will comfort you if they are ever materialized. But they won't. And more than likely these expectations will never come to fruition. Instead of taking your hurt and disappointment to God about the reality of your situation, you are running further away from Him by chasing your self-created idol of perfection.
I know "idol" seems like an outdated word but the gist of it still very much applies to our every day lives.
Idol: An image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.
Worship: To treat someone or something with the reverence and adoration of a deity.
So, if ageless skin is the idol I am worshipping/pursuing, it stands to reason the pursuit of this desire thereby says to my Creator:
"I know better than you. Aging, this natural part of life which you created, is a process I wish to not be a part of. So I will pursue another route and I will fight against you and your ways. Because the image in my head of what I am suppose to look like is far better than the image my reality is actually reflecting."
And there, in a single instant a wedge is created. A wedge that says: I don't trust the way things are. I don't trust the way things look...I know better, I know what reality is suppose to look like and this is not it.
My skin may seem like an arbitrary example but I can exchange this topic with a number of other, more "serious" subjects.
This relationship/job/spouse/parent/child/process isn't turning out how I expected it/them to...therefore rather than trusting God with the reality of the situation, I will take matters into my own hands...because after all, I know exactly what perfection in this realm is suppose to look like.
But God is calling out to you and me asking: Will you trust me? Do you trust me? Will you come to me instead of running to these comfort idols/perfection you have created in your head?
My honest answer to Him today: I am not sure. Because I still very much want the perfect skin, marriage, job, family, etc...and to say I will no longer chase these things, means that I have to confess and believe my skin, marriage, job, family, etc., is the exact way it is suppose to be at this exact moment in time. It means I have to trust that the blemishes and imperfections in my life are actually a catalyst for trust and surrender and not an invitation for me to escape into my made up definition of perfection.
One day, I hope to see how God sees. I hope to look at all the brokenness and imperfections of this world and somehow learn to view them through a lens in which I have no agenda, just trust...a trust that says: This thing/person is in the exact place it is suppose to be in at this very moment...which means this exact moment represents holy perfection. And that is the only kind of perfection I long to be after.