With my face behind the lens of the camera, I capture my boy and girl pretending to be grasshoppers along the surf’s edge and catch a glimpse of my own reflection in the camera’s screen. I try not to be bothered when I see the loose skin on my neck staring back at me.  But, really?  Am I getting a double chin?

Something about putting on a bathing suit every day for a week, paired with no make-up and disheveled, air-dried hair causes me to focus on all my bodily imperfections:  the spider veins making their webs across my legs, the uneven skin tones, the jiggly skin along the backs of my arms.  When I mention my increasing awareness of this aging body to my husband, he jokingly asks me if I am having a mid-life crisis.  “Maybe, just a little one, ” I tell him.

I remember, as a teenager and on into my twenties, feeling self-conscious about my stick-like figure, my fair skin, and the freckles scattered over my face when exposed to the sun.  And now, 20+ years later, the stretchy flesh across my belly bares evidence of two pregnancies and gravity shifts any extra weight down to my hips.  My sister and I walk companionably along the beach and I notice other women sporting their own aging bodies. I wonder if they, too, hone in on the youth wearing bikinis and golden tans.

In my own humanness, I  find myself mourning the gradual loss of my youthful body in the years to come.  I am reminded, though, in 1 Peter 3:4, that “beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle quiet, spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  I want to be one of those women who ages gracefully.  One who makes the most of what she has to work with on the outside, but also carries herself with confidence, knowing that an inner spirit of godliness dwells within.

I don’t think God minds if I continue to search for clothes that flatter my changing shape and use beauty aids to smooth out my skin  and add a little color to my face.  At the same time, though, He offers me the true source of unfading beauty.  May I always remember to focus on the ultimate beauty product.  God Himself.