Beauty & the Beast

by Karen DeArmond~Gardner

As a senior in high school, I attended our Mother Daughter Tea with my mom. I looked up just in time to see my friend Denise and her mom walk in. Both were tall and lean wearing mini-skirts. You could hear the gasp of surprise around the room from all the mothers, including mine, clearly appalled that this ’mother’ was in a mini-skirt. I mean really…she had the gall to show up at this special event, a formal tea – in a mini skirt!! Trust me, she could totally pull it off. At that moment I made a vow as I looked at all the mothers in the room…“I would rather look like her when I grow up then look like them.” I will admit this is one vow I have not repented.

The fashion review continued, when I was in my early 50’s my mother told me…”you just don’t want to dress your age!” Of course my response “and what would that be, Mom? Elastic waist polyester pants with a baggy sweater”? 50+ = frumpy apparently.

I am not saying to dress like a teenager. We have all seen her and trust me it was not a pretty sight. But who says when you get to a certain age you can’t look and dress for success?

Let’s face it – we all judge a book by its cover even – though we know we shouldn’t. Women are the worst at judging what other women are wearing (you know it’s true). We sometimes wonder if some women have friends…surely friends would tell you to look at yourself in the mirror from all sides before you walk out the door. Case in point…I was in my late 30’s, dressed for work, thinking I looked great and I so felt ‘oh so fine’. I was confident and carried myself well. That is until I got home that night and caught a glance of myself in the mirror…there it was…a run in my black nylons as wide as a river up the back of my leg. All day I thought people were thinking “how great she looks” when really they were thinking…”doesn’t she have any friends?”

One image comes clearly to mind for me. I remember seeing Sophia Loren in a movie when she was in her 50’s and oh my she was gorgeous. She walked into the room and commanded the attention of all. Her head held high, shoulders back, chest out, stomach in and BOOM, all eyes are on her. She was all woman with the body of a woman who had lived life. Not stick thin, but real, soft, and oh so curvy. I remember thinking: I want to command that attention when I am in my 50’s. Then all of a sudden, without any warning, here I am, smack dab in the middle of it. Oh my.

Do I want the perfect body? Yes I do, we all do. Do I have a perfect body? No, I am soft and curvy. Do I have flaws and wrinkles? Yes, would you like me to point them out for you? Add to that the random hair that grows on my face that I always find when I am in the car with no tweezers or after I come home and take off the make-up and there it is. What is with that? So I buy a mirror with one side normal the other, well, let’s just say, you can see EVERY flaw which in itself is scary. Occasionally I will flip back to the normal mirror just to make sure what I am seeing is reality.

Through the years I became a master of disguise, like smoke and mirrors in a magic show. Now you see it, now you don’t. I use clothes, shoes, hair and makeup to create a ’perfect’ picture. Only I know what lies underneath. Yes, my husband knows and loves me anyway.

Honestly I am not trying for perfection…that is way too much work and would require plastic surgery which I am not willing to do even if I had the money. But here is the real lesson I have learned: it is not just about the outside. Quite frankly the outside reflects what is on the inside. It’s about allowing the beauty on the inside to be visible on the outside. We have all met that drop dead gorgeous woman who opened her mouth and the bitterness in her heart came flowing out and she turned into The Beast.

Before I could accept The Beauty in me I first had to “see” how I saw myself. January 2010 I attended on class on “Helping others find freedom”. At the end of the class we were to ask, “God what do you want to say to me?” “Beautiful,” He said. Beautiful, really? I admit I was disappointed. I was hoping for something more than what I looked like. Then He showed me a picture of a woman standing with her hands lifted as high as she could. As I walked to my car Father gently removed the veil from my eyes so I could see how I saw ME and what I saw was The Beast…this horrific, terrible, ugly Beast. When God speaks, His words come to life. As the tears streamed down my face, the word he spoke…Beautiful, took on life and destroyed The Beast. He put the beauty in the beast.

For the first time in my life I accepted The Beauty in me. The Beast died and The Beauty flourished. Who would have thought I could be more beautiful today then I was in my 20’s, 30’s or 40’s? I may be a little unrealistic, but the point is I feel more beautiful than I ever have in my life. Do I still have days when I don’t like what I see in the mirror or change my outfit 3 times before I walk out the door? Yes.

My life is not over because I am in my 50‘s. Who knew that I would have a career in my 50’s or decide to write or the best yet…get married and act like a newlywed? I thought my life was over. I believed I messed it up so much that even God could not put it back together again. How wrong I was. God promised to do a “new thing” in my life and I had no idea what that would look like. I could not have planned this even if I wanted to.

Are you over 50? Do you feel as though you have no purpose in life? Then ask Father what “new thing” He wants to purpose in and through you. Put down the remote, get off the couch. Yes, now. There are young women out there who need you to be all that God has called you to be, He is not finished with you yet. You did not mess up so bad or waste your life. Our God is the God of Purpose. Just ask Sarah, Moses and Joshua. He waited until they were “experienced” (a much better term than ‘older’ or ‘mature’ that I credit to my very dear friend, Cindy) to show them their purpose.

I dare you to dream a little and ask the Father what is….“My Purpose Now?“

And please remember not to grab that pimply faced kid by the throat if he or she offers you the senior discount. They don’t know it yet but they need you.

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About debdearmond

Deb: Christ follower. Writer and speaker. Optimistically mid-life, experienced - not necessarily "mature". Young enough to discover, explore, teach, serve, mentor, and old enough to know how to do it well! She serves as a writer for the online magazine Destiny in Bloom and she is Co-Founder of MyPurposeNow.org, a website dedicated to helping women over 50 find their purpose in Christ. Deb is optimistically mid-life and excited about the next stage of life and what God has for her now. Her latest print project is a book about the relationships between mot hers and the girls who marry their sons. Deb is wife to her high school sweetheart, Ron, who told her about Jesus and led her to the Lord 39 years ago. Mom to three incredible sons. Gigi to two perfect grandboys. But Jesus is her favorite, and the guys have learned to live with it.
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2 Responses to Beauty & the Beast

  1. Tomi Berry says:

    Great article Karen! I especially relate to this one as I approach my 50’s and my body starts approaching what, I’m not quite sure at times!! Yes, it really is about what’s on the inside. Thanks so much for the reminder…

  2. Cindy Smith says:

    Karen, you totally nailed it! I see such beauty in you everytime we are together, but I fail to see it in myself. I think that is what you were getting at, right? I agree that you are more beautiful now than when I first met you 6 years ago and it has come from the inside it. That kind of beauty is unmistakeable. You have it friend!

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