We all have to face our own reflection.
I was sitting across the table from one of my girlfriends the other day, eating lunch and chatting about life. We got into our typical discussion about the kids, funny things they are doing, and how they are growing. Of course, that led to the subject of time and how old we are both getting. As she joked about my upcoming thirtieth birthday, she let me in on a little secret.
"You've had wrinkles for a while, though."
That's what she said.
I just stared at her for a second. Waiting for her to bust into laughter, tell me she got me good, and what a horrified look I had on my face. But she didn't. She sat there, straight faced. And so I responded like any rational, sensible, unpretentious woman would:
"What? what do you mean wrinkles? When did I , how long have you .... what wrinkles? Where? I've never seen any wrinkles. What wrinkles?!?"
"The ones on the side of your mouth. Yeah, it's no big deal. I just thought since you are going to be in your thirties and all, maybe you should know."
I thanked her for the heads up and we laughed, and joked more about growing old, wearing girdles and dentures, and finished up our lunches.
I mean, I knew I would have wrinkles. One day. It's inevitable. We are all growing older and you can't stop it from happening. Well, some people try. But not me. I've always told myself that I would try to take aging as it comes. I would embrace it. I would consider it a display of wonderful years I have been blessed with and hold it as a souvenir of sorts of the memories I have collected over time. I guess I just didn't prepare myself for the early onset of that reality.
I have wrinkles. There, I said it.
My friend headed out that afternoon and I found myself in the middle of the rug on our living room floor again with Connor to see what we were going to play with next. I heard the tires on the gravel outside as she pulled away and a honk in the distance as she got further down the road.
That's about how long I waited before I got up, walked into our bathroom, turned on the light and pulled my face to the mirror. Let me see these wrinkles.
She was right. There they were.
Deep, distinct lines on the sides of my mouth.
But I wouldn't consider those wrinkles. In fact, as I stretched my mouth out into a smile, I watched them get bigger and bigger, and deeper and deeper. They were smile lines.
I breathed a heavy sigh of relief and turned off the bathroom light, walked back into the living room with my son who looked up at me with the biggest grin on his face, and without a second thought, I smiled back at him.
You see, those are wrinkles I'm ok with. Those are lines on my face that have formed over the years because I have experienced indescribable happiness. And I fully believe that they will only continue to get deeper.
And it hit me.
Every wrinkle is ok with me. Every one. They all represent an emotion brought on by an experience that I have had the privilege of embracing. Even the immense sadness and frustration. The loneliness in an unsolved heart. The fear and anticipation of a future that turned out to be a beautiful present. Amusement and courage. Appreciation and hope. And of course, happiness. Some people wander through this life without letting themselves feel a thing. They are "rational people". They will tell you they don't let themselves get swallowed up with emotions. In fact, they can't remember the last time that they felt overwhelmed with heartbreak, or wrapped up with joy. They can talk themselves out of every wrinkle that would eventually find a home on their inexpressive faces.
But not me. I've allowed myself to feel. Really feel every bit of this life. And my face will show it.
And Lord willing, when I'm much older, when my bones are twisted and I'm all covered up in gray, my grandchildren will sit in my lap, touch my face, and study every line. And I will tell them stories of how those deep wrinkles got there. The trials that brought the ones that appear when I furrow my brow, the silly things my husband and children said and did that made me get the ones on the bridge of my nose, and most importantly, the ones on the sides of my mouth ...
The ones that will remind me, from this day forward, of all of the happiness that I have stumbled upon and soaked in.
I'm looking forward to the next time my friend comes over for lunch. I'm going to tell her that I know exactly what wrinkles she was talking about now ...
And that I try every day of my life to make them deeper, still.