One time someone asked me, “What color is your hair, really?”
After my initial cringe, I answered truthfully, “I have no idea”.
My real hair color is buried beneath years and layers of fake color. I went through periods of time where I really believed that you could never be too blond. (Who am I kidding? I still believe this. Of course, it has to be the right blond.) I’ve gone through periods where I’ve decided I wanted to go natural and ended up so dark, people didn’t recognize me. Turns out my natural hair color is dirty dish rag blah. That didn’t last long.
Why am I telling you this?
On some level, I guess it’s a confession.
I have another one.
I airbrushed a photo of myself. Actually, it was fun so I started doing it to a bunch of photos. Here’s an example.
After I did this, something interesting happened. My daughter walked into the room and told me the airbrushed photo made me look like a freak. As I was patting myself on the back for being a good mother and teaching my kids about the importance of inner beauty and not to be focused on appearances, my other daughter came in and said, “Cool, you look so pretty! How can I do that to my pictures?”
We all see outer beauty differently. There is no perfect standard of outer beauty. However, I think we can all agree on the things that make someone beautiful on the inside.
We can change ourselves on the outside pretty easily. Whether it’s airbrushing a photo or highlighting our hair.
I wish we could change our insides like that. I wish we could pay someone to transform our hearts. I wish we could make an appointment to become more compassionate or more forgiving.
Instead of changing the way people see us, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a treatment we could undergo that would change the way people felt around us. That they would feel better when they left us, they would feel loved and accepted, lighter and more joyful.
There is no easy fix for inner transformation. Subtle changes occur over time as we become more of who God intends us to be. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. We learn that things that come easily don’t always last. Real change takes time.
The paradox is that our wrinkles, our aging, our “not perfect” outsides are part of our inner transformation. As our outer beauty fades, our inner beauty grows. Acceptance is a big part of growing older. Being able to accept your flaws with humor and grace is tough but when we do, we are accepting our natural evolution. We are saying, “Yes!” to how we are changing. We realize the wrinkles come from many years of laughter and good times in the sun. We acknowledge cellulite and stretch marks are badges of honor from motherhood. You get my point. We look older because we have LIVED. Our living…our really living…laughing, crying, hugging, having babies, surgeries, accidents, sicknesses, training, teaching, loving, learning, partying, cleansing, losing weight, gaining weight, running, sitting, mothering, friending, suffering…all of it adds up to who we are.
Why do we want to erase who we are?
This has me wondering…If we fight so hard to stay perfect on the outside, are we cheating ourselves? Should we be walking through the disappointment and insecurity that growing older can bring up for us? Shouldn’t we work toward acceptance? Isn’t this one of the “sharpening” tools God uses to transform us?
I don’t have the answers. I just know that in the end I want to be beautiful inside. And I want to be grateful for all of my life. Because the tears I cried made me stronger and the laughter I shared filled my heart and soul and the sun nourished me and the food I ate made me full and the relationships I’ve had taught me and the struggles I’ve had made me lean on God. Which is the whole point. Blond hair or not.
As we get older, we can’t lean on our looks but we can lean on God. Less me, more God. That’s the way to inner transformation.
©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved