Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Face We Have

Abraham Lincoln once said that you’re not responsible for the face you’re born with, but your face at fifty is all your fault. Every once in a while you run into someone that illustrates this truism. Laura has remarked that our Congresswoman Maxine Waters is a perfect example of Lincoln's comment. Although Waters' website shows a smiling, relaxed countenance, I have seen her press conferences on TV where she more resembles a snarling dog, with her bitter, paranoid ramblings (she proudly asserted, and still does that the CIA sold crack in Los Angeles and that the minority rioters in 1992 were practicing "civil disobedience" when they burned and looted their own neighborhoods. BTW, I should know - I live there and the folks running down the street were not carrying "essentials" from the liquor store. They looked a lot like they were stocking up for a huge party with their fifths of whiskey.) Anyway, she seems to carry so much rage at all her perceived injustices that the angry look has frozen permanently on her face. Perhaps she is proud that her face bears the marks of her suffering and if that is all that has caused it, I will comment no further as I have now discovered a better example of Lincoln's statement.

Recently, I shared an elevator with a woman I worked with about 18 years ago. I don't rightly know this woman's exact age, although I can estimate it as close to my own (+/- 3 years) based on conversation during the time we worked in the same building. She was then, pretty and petite, but with a mouth on her like a longshoreman (sorry longshoremen). You could hear her halfway down the hall, swearing at some guy that had crossed her. Because she had such an outspoken manner, everyone was aware that she liked to party. She was hard-drinking and hard-smoking; she often stood in the pouring rain to get that one last drag on her cigarette before she'd have to come back into the building. Someone had mentioned to me a few years ago that she had gone through a number of marriages/relationships since I first knew her.

Anyway, when she got on the elevator last week, I almost thought that she had been crying -her eyes seemed red and puffy, her face crinkled with lines (what they call the tracks of the tears). On further observation, I realized she hadn't been crying at all, but that her face bore instead the imprint of a very hard life. It was very sad that this once pretty woman had been disfigured by stress. Furthermore, she had tried to cover up the lines and such with make-up techniques that seemed to have been learned at the Tammy Faye School of Cosmetology.

I say all this, not to mock the poor woman, she is afterall, a person made in the image of God whom He loves dearly ( as is true for Ms. Waters), but it reminded me of an important lesson found in Proverbs 31: "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. ... Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised." (NLT)

When we adorn ourselves with strength and dignity, with "inner beauty" as Paul writes about, we will have an ageless quality that will not need to be hidden by make-up or re-arranged by the plastic surgeon.

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