Monday, July 1, 2019

The Difference of a Decade

About a month ago I got new pictures done. I don't enjoy having headshots taken because it typically takes about 100 shots to get a single picture where my face doesn't look scrunched or like I'm trying way too hard. One time a photographer said to me, "okay, give me your prettiest smile!" I smiled (what I thought was) my prettiest smile. The photographer lowered his camera and said, "is that actually your real smile?" It was not said as a compliment. (Ironically, the smile that actually looks nice for pictures feels more like an "annoyed" smile.)

Anyway, it had been almost a decade since my last set of headshots and I was starting to not look like my promo pictures anymore, so I enlisted the help of a talented photographer friend (Shout out to Ashlyn Stallings!) and bit the bullet. While looking through the proofs the other day, it hit me: I'm getting older.

We live in a society that fears aging. We hide the physical evidence of our years and adopt habits that come with the promise of staying alive longer. Every time I become fearful of getting older I remind myself that it could be much worse: we could all be going back to our teen years.

My former headshot (below on the left--where I look like a grown up American Girl Doll) was taken in my mid-20s, before I'd experienced many of the deeper, harder parts of life. I certainly thought I'd gone through trials, but I had no idea what I'd live through in less than a decade. Despite my youth, though, I was too anxious and afraid of the future to enjoy much of the present.

The picture on the right was taken a month ago. And sure, my hair cooperated and the lighting worked in my favor and my most noticeable flaws were retouched out, but I can still see the evidence of the extra years. The photo on the right is of someone who has experienced God's faithfulness in worst-case scenarios.

I still manage fears and anxieties about the future and likely always will, but I now draw on the track record of God's provision to find peace. I enjoy the beauty of today much more than I did ten years ago. That kind of outlook, unfortunately, comes with wrinkles, sunspots, and grey hairs. It's no accident God made it so that as our physical form deteriorates our spirit (hopefully!) becomes more beautiful. My looks may continue to go downhill, but I can only hope that as my youth and beauty fade that my patience, joy, and love for God and people will shine through in their place.

I often wonder where I'll be when I get my next set of headshots done in ten years. What new callings will God place on my life? What new trials will I have encountered? What dreams will be realized? What heartaches will I be surrendering daily to God? Will I even be here on earth? (God could call me Home or the Space Force could call for volunteers to help colonize Mars.)

Today, though, I'll simply celebrate the gift of getting older. God's grace is already in the future and I'll be there soon enough.