Do you remember being 5? As a little girl I didn’t really think about how I looked, and took for granted that I had ten fingers, ten toes, and all of the other parts and pieces that go with being a girl. Knees were the place that most often needed bandages (which were the major cure for every bruise, cut or nasty scrape). Hair was something that had to be combed (to my immense dismay and often serious discomfort). A nose sometimes needed help from a tissue. My eyes were brown, and my friend had more freckles than me. I looked how I looked, and it was fine.
If I wore a bathing suit, I automatically looked cute. If I wore a dress, I looked pretty. If I smiled at my parents or my grandparents, I would always get a smile back. If I wore my sneakers, I could run very fast. When I played with my dolls, they would get great adventures because of my vivid imagination. I did not think about being a girl, I simply WAS.
Time changed that. I grew taller, and started to notice the signs that I was turning into a big girl…and then a young woman. I was glad that my hair was brown and shiny, but sad it didn’t have any curls. At all. Having stick-straight hair led to wishing I had curls like so many other girls…and that was just the beginning.
Like a caterpillar does not stay a caterpillar, I grew into a woman, and entered the stage of life where we all start to ask ourselves the great question: Am I enough? Track shoes were no longer all I needed to feel fast enough. Putting on a bathing suit no longer led to the automatic conviction that I was cute enough. Every aspect of my physical appearance would at some point be called into question in the quiet corners of my mind. Am I tall enough? Will I grow taller? Am I thin enough? Or am I too thin? Should my curvy parts be curvier? Do I look okay? Is this outfit cute? My hair? My makeup?
Becoming a grown woman meant seeing the other ladies in the room, in the workplace, in the magazines and the movies. I was never under the illusion that I would or could ever be super model material, but I certainly wanted to be my very best. I did my make-up, picked my clothes and did my hair in the hope of being the best version of me that I possibly could. I might not win any beauty pageants, but I could look in the mirror and like the lady I saw. I think it is a normal part of being a woman, and especially now in our camera carrying, media-filled culture.
Adventuring through marriage, motherhood, home schooling, volunteering and military-led meandering all around the country, I met many amazing women. I made friends who I will cherish forever. After years of growing and facing challenges I learned that alone, I am not enough…but with prayer, family, and friends, I will get though. God hears, He helps, and because Jesus is by my side, that IS enough.
I am now closer to 60 than I am to 50. I was startled to see how DARK my hair was in an old photograph recently, because I have gotten used to the shiny silver God has put on my head. Proverbs 16:31 says: “A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.” I am a grandma now, and just realized that something has changed…again. When I was 12, hormones and puberty took me away from the comfortable assurance of life as a little girl. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, I became a woman, and it was a wonderful thing.
Menopause and silver hair have accomplished a different thing, and to my thinking, it is no less wonderful. Gray hair, wrinkles and memories transformed me yet again… back to the life I enjoyed as little girl. Gone are the hormones, and drama of the child-bearing years…I do not miss them. Once again, I look like I look and just AM. If I wear a dress, I am pretty. There is no sense of competing with the beauties of the world. If I put on my sneakers, I will be fast enough. When I put on a bathing suit, it is cute even if I am pudgy (and good for me getting out there to splash with my grandkids). When I make up stories for my grandchildren, it will be a great adventure from my vivid imagination. If I skip wearing make-up it is okay, because a Grandma gets to love everyone, and they love her back, and that makes us grandmas beautiful.
We are carefully crafted, each of us, by God to be a woman the world needs. A woman God loves. I love sharing my stories about how He has faithfully answered prayers and helped me with all of the challenges that life has brought. I wish my own grandmother had been around long enough to tell me about this stage of life, and how fun it is….a little bit like being 5 again, but with reading glasses.
Photo credit Alan Emery