Agnes stared absent-mindedly into the mirror, brushing her hair as she had thousands of times before when suddenly, she caught her own eye and gasped a sad, surrendering, soft sigh. Laying the brush aside, she pulled closer to the mirror in an effort to really see herself. How could that woman in the mirror, who looked a lot like her mother, really be Agnes? She cringed at thinking the cliché “How could so much time have passed so quickly?” She’d always rolled her eyes when ‘old folks’ said such things and now, she was saying it too… She looked a little closer at the roots that were beginning to show, wondering what color her hair really was by now. It was surreal and unnerving, this disconnect between her mirror image and the way she imagined herself. She reached for her makeup and through the art of smudging, shadowing, coloring, and camouflaging Agnes hoped to create a face she better recognized. All the while, she remembered those days when makeup was about accentuating her beauty rather than an attempt to cover reality and create an illusion. Then she stopped and took another hard look in the mirror. Did all the cover-up really help? Sadly, she had to accept that her efforts resembled a mask and she felt a tug of truth pull at her heart. Trying to maintain a youthful image was prideful, vain, and all the effort she spent trying to keep looking young was wasted time. There is no joy in chasing after the wind and it was time for Agnes to accept her true self.
Agnes reached for her cold-cream and a tissue. Wiping the mask away, she opened her mind and took a deeper look at this stranger, her true face. The face of Agnes, a living work of art, expressed her history in lines etched by life’s cares and happiness. She held the edge of her hand to the root-line of her hair and noticed how the natural grey framed and softened her mature face. This unique face was beautiful in a way that no young, doll-like face could ever be. Agnes sighed a soft, joyful sigh of self-acceptance and remembered a truism from decades past about “growing old gracefully” and wrapped herself in a hug. Every grey hair, every wrinkle was earned and from now on, she’d wear that grey hair like a crown! No longer cringing at her lines and wrinkles she saw them as they truly were, evidence of her inner beauty; the kind of beauty that lasts and grows better with age. Agnes vowed to spend all of time she’d been spending chasing after the wind of youth, on drawing closer to God and increasing the beauty within. Joy and contentment filled her heart and with new hope, she faced a future of growing old but also, growing better.
Agnes picked up her brush again, caught her hair in a backward swoop, and pinned it lightly back. Grey wisps framed an honest, clean face and sparkling, blue eyes. She reached for her makeup again but this time to accentuate and not mask. She patted on a little powder to soften and blur the tone, touched a hint of color on her lips, and added a final splash of her favorite perfume. Perfect! Done! Then one last look in the mirror; Agnes viewed herself with new appreciation for the woman the Lord had helped her to become. The world might not agree that aging can be beautiful but when Agnes saw herself as Jesus saw her, she saw the truth; that aging is not a process of decay but of becoming more like Jesus. He is the Way to joyful aging and true inner beauty that never dims or fades away.