by Joanie Butman
My model ‘audition’ was this week, which simply entailed having areas photographed that my husband hasn’t seen for years – at least not in the light. Apparently, I have just the right amount of ‘old’ skin, as my daughter describes the cottage cheese dimpling that no amount of diet, exercise or beauty products can prevent – regardless of what they promise. I may have received complements in the past about my facial dimples, which have now morphed into wrinkles, but no one will ever complement dimples on your butt or extremities. The old skin doesn’t even take into consideration the scars we accumulate in life – each with a story of its own.
So why would I be willing to reveal my imperfections in such a public way? Because they won’t be attached to my face – I hope. Even if they are, I’ve reached that liberating age of surrender – in more ways than one. Conceding to the inevitable effects of aging is simply the art of embracing where you are, appreciating what you’ve gone through to get there, and enjoying the freedom it provides. In her book, The Gift of Years, Joan Chittister maintains that “one of the gifts of aging is to become comfortable with the self we are, rather than to mourn what we are not.” Amen sister – literally. Joan is a nun.
As a blogger, I’ve been baring my soul for years, and that has more scars and dimples than my body ever will. Writing is merely a Christian modeling assignment of sorts. No auditions necessary, just a willingness to showcase God’s healing grace in my life. Believe me, perfect people don’t inspire anyone, real people do. The power of our stories is told through our scars and wrinkles. After His resurrection, even Christ had scars. They remain a symbol of His sacrifice on our behalf – a permanent testimony of His undying love for us. In his book, Everything Belongs, Richard Rohr notes:
As they were for Jesus, ‘our wounds become honors.’ The great and merciful surprise is that we come to God not by doing it right but by doing it wrong!
As Christians, we’re all called to be models for Christ. We can’t do that if we only present the polished version of our lives like those so prevalent on Facebook. Our success as Christian models lies in our willingness to share our struggles, and how Jesus transforms our pain into power and our wrinkles into wisdom meant to benefit others.
St. Paul is a perfect example. He originally prided himself on his genealogy and religiosity, blind to his own flaws. His spiritual transformation began with Christ removing the scales from his eyes so that he could see the ugly truth about himself. It was only when he was stripped of his polished veneer that God was able to use him. By seeing and accepting his own faults, Paul experienced the miracle of grace. It wasn’t his pedigree or accomplishments that attracted so many to Christ. It was his humility and authenticity. Paul used his own life to exemplify God’s grace and power: “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” We can do the same if we so choose because God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
Unlike the ridiculous claims some beauty products promise to reduce wrinkles and reclaim a youthful glow, God’s saving grace never fails to produce an inner beauty that can’t be contained. So, bring on the cameras. I’m ready to let His light shine. Are you?