I’m 42. I know, it’s weird. When I read in the paper something like, “42-year-old woman falls into fountain and drowns,” or “bank robbery suspect is approximately 42 years old, female, blond, about 5’3”’ I immediately think what on earth is a woman that old doing out of her house? I’m not surprised. Or, oh man, mid-life crisis makes people do crazy things, poor old girl. And then I look in the mirror and remember that I, too, am that old. And perhaps that crazy.
On the days that I drop my daughter off at preschool I like to get a little exercise in, and usually that means a hike in the mountains that cradle Santa Barbara, but today I I’d like to go roller skating. Yes, roller skating. I bought a pair of skates about 15 years ago and found them in the garage recently. Score! So, I shall go, and I shall feel like I’m 19 again. But I have yet to take a moment to see myself from another’s perspective.
You know that perspective. We all have such a warped view of ourselves, inside and out. Rarely do we see ourselves as we should. We have those days when we look in the mirror, throw in the towel, and wish we could just head back to bed. “It’s a lost cause,” we mutter, and shake our heads padding into the kitchen in the fuzzy robe and pink slippers, retainer (yes, I know, the 80s called and wants their orthodontia back) garbling our speech and glasses askew. Or maybe that’s just me.
Then there are other days you might run into someone you went to high school with. You see that perhaps they might have sprouted a few grays, had a few kids, had naturally gone from lithe athletic 17-year-old body to the one that might bear a few scars, wears a few indicators of a life of heartbreak, or plain old genetics. And you feel better about yourself, since, let’s be honest—we grade ourselves on the curve.
A couple weeks ago I was hanging out down by the barn with my husband while he was taking a break from shaping some surfboards. Fifi and I like to head down there and water the garden, chase the chickens, and wax poetic with daddy for a few minutes. I was in the process of beginning a Whole 30 (a cleanse diet), which I badly needed. I was getting geared up for it and chatting away about how I didn’t want to be the one everyone shook their heads about saying that time was cruel to me. I don’t want to be the girl that just lets herself go, I said.
And then I plugged one nostril, took a deep breath, and blew the remnants of my lingering cold out of the other nostril and onto the gravel.
Britt looked at me incredulously (and super grossed out), and my eyes grew huge as I realized what just happened. Here I was, in this weird state between seeing myself as someone who is doing her best to hang on to youth and good taste, then displaying the revolting manners of a 16-year-old boy—and I realized I would need some grace. Not only would I need some grace, but I needed to set aside all my weight-loss-health-beauty-youth goals and have some perspective. (Not to mention manners.)
1 John 3:1 says, “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” I’m pretty sure a daughter of the King doesn’t hobo-blow while telling her husband she doesn’t want to be one of those girls who lets herself go. Ironic, no? And mortifying. So, like my friend Al Abdulla taught me to say, there’s grace to that.
Grace to that. Can you say that to yourself? Step back and take a good look at yourself in the mirror, ignoring the pimples or wrinkles or hair that won’t behave and say grace to that. Ignore the job you hate, the relationship status that’s lacking, and say grace to that. The sin that has you reeling? Grace to that. The habits that stick, the ones that both show on your exterior or quietly lurk in your conscience? Grace to that. The unmet hopes and desires that drive you to despondency, anger, to distrust God. Grace to that. You know what needs grace, even right now.
Grace is what God is good at. The Message tell us from Ephesians; “Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.” All the time in the world. There's oceans of grace to be had, and its got our names on it.
Regardless of our vanity or self-deprecation, our lack of grace with others or even our hobo-blow in the middle of conversation, we need that grace. Sometimes we listen to the myriad of voices that get piped at high volume into our hearts and minds that say “there’s no hope for you. You’re not worth much. You’re a lost cause. You’ve made a mess of things. You have nothing to offer. You’ll never be enough,” among other soul-crushing garbage. And, just like love covers a multitude of sins, love made us alive with Christ, and love is the greatest, love says “grace to that.” Grace to that.
Say it with me. Grace to that.
I’m going to go roller skating, you know. Yes, I’m a 42-year-old woman who is going roller skating on the bike path by the beach, regardless of how she looks or what people think. I’m going to skate, feel the salty sea air in my hair, and be exactly who God made me. And all the voices that speak otherwise? Grace to that.