At the age of nine, all it took was a pair of orange stirrup pants to make me feel groovy. Purple and pink paper flowers decorated my room. Peace signs adorned my notebooks. Some might say I was too young to be a true flower child, but I felt hip.
In junior high, all it took to feel special was a pair of white go-go boots, castoffs of my much cooler aunt. So what if I had to rub white polish on them daily so the worn places wouldn’t show? My boots were made for walking! My room smelled of incense, and posters of Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond hung on the wall. Okay, not quite a rock rebel, but I felt cool.
In high school, the piece of clothing that made me “with it” was a lime green peasant blouse, another hand-me-down from my aunt. My friend and I giggled when we heard her mother moan to a friend, “You can’t tell the difference between these and maternity tops.” What a shame to grow old and be so “out of it.”
Then, one day years later, I stood in the auto department of Walmart, waiting patiently while my husband studied each and every type of windshield wiper the store carried. Bored, I gazed around until my eyes spotted a grouping of mirrors.
That’s when I had it…my middle-aged moment.
I could see myself in the mirrors. In fact, I could see myself several times over. It wasn’t my dress or even my shoes that made me stare. It was my purse, a no-nonsense affair attached to my arm by two sturdy straps. It was a middle-aged woman’s purse.
I was middle aged.
I know how it happened. Those birthdays I’d joyfully celebrated had turned on me. But still, going from the bloom of youth to the top of the downhill slide–well, that was hard. It required a whole change in attitude…namely depression.
While I didn’t pull a black scarf over my head and take up residence in my rocking chair, I did, in a sense, give up. After all, I wasn’t young anymore, certainly wasn’t “with it,” and I hadn’t been cool for a long time. This depression could have gone on forever if I hadn’t realized I was looking in the wrong direction along my timeline.
While thumbing through a magazine one day, I came across an article about an artist. She was proudly in her sixties, making no apologies for her age. Her clothes weren’t the latest style. She’d even allowed her hair to go gray. And she looked wonderfully graceful, tailored, and confident.
I wanted to be her.
But how? I have the grace of a gazelle without night vision. If I wear anything remotely tailored, I guarantee I will spill soup on it or pop at least two buttons. Confidence? If I had that, I wouldn’t be eyeing the black scarf and rocking chair! After rifling through my wardrobe and contemplating a bonfire, I almost slipped back into my depression. I couldn’t be her.
Then I recalled the wise words of Psalms 139:14.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
I couldn’t be her, but I could be me. Ah yes, that was the lesson. Her grace and confidence came not from imitating others, but from living happy as herself.
Could I be happy as myself? Yes, but first I had to change my thinking. I needed to start acting like I believed the verse.
I am not pale, but fair (or on a good day, gossamer).
I am not chubby, but curvy.
I am not average, but fabulous and unique, the best (and only) me that exists.
God created me and he didn’t do it as a joke.
He made me wonderful! And He loves me. We all need to remind ourselves of that very true fact.
Seriously, try singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of your voice (preferably in the privacy of your own home). Treat it not like a children’s song, but as an affirmation that yes, Jesus loves YOU. Not because you’re graceful. Not because you always say the right thing, and certainly not because you wear the latest styles. He loves you because you are worth loving. Of course you are–He made you.
Have I suddenly developed grace? No, I’m still bumping my way through life just like that night vision-impaired gazelle.
I’ll never be twenty again. Anything dewy about my skin comes from a bottle. Perky has never described my personality and now it doesn’t come near to describing my body.
But now, my timeline faces forward. So what if I’m middle-aged? That simply means I’m in the middle of life’s adventure, still looking forward to where it’s going to take me. God’s got plans.
As for that middle-aged purse? It’s gone, baby, it’s gone!
- Blonde Brunette Ambition - November 1, 2019
- The Medicine Cabinet of the Heart - January 9, 2019
- From Groovy to Middle-Aged (and Back Again!) - June 12, 2018
Susan, i love your sense of humor and your honesty. I’m in the same place sister, but I decided to start a faith and fashion blog to push myself through that age crisis. God is so good and I love how He gently reminds us every time we need it of our worth, value and beauty to Him, no matter what our age. Thanks for sharing. – Amy
Love your blog!
what a great post. we are fearfully and wonderfully made in his image
This really made me laugh and brightened my morning! I love your perspective and pray that when I get to be middle aged I can remember the lesson you’ve learned instead of having to make mistakes and learn on my own. You have an amazing outlook and God sure does love each and every one of us with his entire being, who cares what the world thinks is trendy and worthy, right!? Awesome post to read this morning!
I’m so glad my post helped start your morning right.:-)
I’m one of those weird people who loves growing older. When I was little, I was told I would grow out of it, but I never have. Older people are wise and wonderful. I’m thankful God made me me, but I’m not dreading growing older, I’m looking forward to continuing my walk with Him.
Heather, I’ve never really dreaded growing older either. I think it’s because I’ve known so many great old ladies, lol!
I think I passed middle-aged about 30 pounds ago – now i’m almost a senior citizen….
I am right with you! Gravity has hit and yet there is a freedom no longer being a young woman that I wouldn’t want to give up.
I definitely agree!
Oh boy howdee. I feel 70 breathing down my neck. And feeling dowdy goes with it. Cool clothes are fun, but temporary. Just keep looking up, not in depressed short time left feeling, but excited about eternity. Can’t take the clothes with me. 🙂
This is a great post I needed to hear. I love singing, so I’m going to take your advice next time I feel down about my aging self, I’ll look in the mirror and sing, “Jesus loves me.”
What a beautiful post and an inspiring perspective on growth and aging. Thank you for your words!
Beautiful post! Needed it after attending my 40 year high school reunion.
I completely understand. I’m glad I could help!
Great post, Susan!
Thank you, Sandi!
Love your story! I’m right there with you. I, too, had Donny Osmond posters on my wall. Lol Turning 50 a few years ago was rough, so reading your story is uplifting. We are only in the middle of life! And we are exactly as we are meant to be, as God created us. 🙂