I think I was 27 years old when I first started noticing the wrinkles on my face.
The signs of aging.
I felt way too young to start having wrinkles and instantly regretted those years of tanning beds and laying in the sun all day long. It had all caught up with me.
I started noticing the wrinkles on my face in every picture. The streaks of folded skin fanning the edges of my eyes like a delicately creased ripple of water. But, it was on my face. It always bothered me. My dimples had now morphed into long lines instead of cute little dotted imprints on my cheeks. I even contemplated smiling "less largely" to avoid the squishing of my skin together. Why did I care so much? Why was this bothering me so much?
Fast forward 3 years and I looked at my husband at church one day and told him to smile. No wrinkles. Dude is 2 years older than me and not a wrinkle in sight. I responded to his smile with, "Darn you and your beautiful melanin-saturated skin." He is quite handsome.
I felt (and heard) myself begin to really complain about it. My wrinkles. I've never really cared about the affects of aging. I've never stressed over the fact of getting older. Maybe that is, until those wrinkles started settling in and getting REAL comfortable in their newfound home, on my face.
Then one day, we were celebrating life with my family. I was sitting on the floor, playing with my baby Zion and my dad was chatting with my sisters and I. He was telling us a story and he began laughing. My dads' laugh literally warms your heart. It begins in his gut and takes the breath away from his lungs and comes out of his mouth in the most enchanting and contagious way.
And as he was laughing, I noticed the wrinkles around his eyes. And all the wrinkles that graced his face. And all I could think about was how many laughs he had to laugh in his 58 years of life to earn those wrinkles. How many gut-wrenching moments of pure joy did he get to experience in order for those wrinkles to begin making their impact on his face. How many funny stories, how many beaming smiles did he get to endure to be able to claim those wrinkles as permanent residents? I felt like he wore them with pride.
Like they were a pure badge of honor.
It was beautiful.
It was this perfect mix of maturity and child-likeness. His joy displayed in physical from that he developed from life experience.
And I went home that day, imagining my dads smile. And hearing my dads laughter in my mind. And how I naturally viewed his wrinkles. And then realized how I approached my own aging signs. And those two viewpoints did not coincide. I admire.... absolutely cherish every piece of who my dad is. The scars on his face that tell his story. The creases around his eyes that signify the years of smiling. It is so endearing. And it's not something I always notice and appreciate. But, I'm beginning to allow it to shed a whole new light on how I view myself. That is quite a lovely lesson to learn.
So, I am in the process of viewing my own wrinkles just as I viewed my dads. A sign of joy. A picture of a life well-lived.
Age can be a beautiful thing. If we only look at it through a lens of gratitude.
Let the laughter burst forth and relish the very life you are living. Don't be held in bondage by things, by people, by expectations, or by... wrinkles. Let people see the joy in your smile. Let your wrinkles tell your story.