Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wrinkles and fettuccini alfredo

This beautiful face belongs to Elisabeth Elliott, a woman I so greatly admire. Wife of Jim Elliott who was martyred and left her behind with a baby girl to raise, and that's only part of her story. She was born 85 years ago on December 21, 1926. I'm 29 years behind her. If you're 29 then that sounds like a long time, but being closer to twice that age I know better. I keep this photo of her where I'll see it daily. I suspect when my own mother looks at my face she thinks how short a time it was that she looked more like me. I wonder if my daughters do the same? Do they see the age spots sneaking up on my hands and remember that not long ago they were smooth and clear like their own? This photo reminds me, even though I don't see those wrinkles yet, they'll be here before I know it. As my chiropractor told me a couple of weeks ago, "everything in us dries up with age." And he's a man. It would probably have been spoken more emphatically by a woman.

The day to day living out of life has begun to take on a different weight for me the past few years. Maybe it's having a husband retire. Or knees and a back that hurt. Or watching my parents grow older. Or noticing, night after night, how quickly I find myself tucked in, snuggling up to my pillow at the end of yet another day. It makes me want to write down on paper big goals like bake cookies every single week, call someone I love every day, be nicer to the person in the grocery or ahead of me in traffic. Important stuff like kiss my grandbabies and my kids (germs be damned!) and my husband.  Give more hugs (I'm not very huggy.) Ask the important questions, even when I don't want to hear the answers. Really listen. Not fuss with what to wear, or how clean the house is, or whether every thing on my 'to do' list is getting crossed off. I'm learning most of the truly important stuff in life never gets written down on a 'to do' list and can easily be missed entirely.

Twenty years ago I had a picture taped to my refrigerator of some girl from a fitness magazine, with toned abs. I was convinced, if I just worked hard enough, I could go back in time, get in shape and resemble her. Now I find myself looking long and hard at someone 85 years old, realizing 29 years between me and her is not that much, and toned abs don't matter much. I can't imagine Elisabeth Elliott, looking back on her life, wishing she'd done more sit ups.

What if I'd had this photo of Elisabeth twenty years ago? How would it have shaped choices I made then? Would I have called my brother more? Made more trips home to see my parents? Worked less, played more? Slept when I was sick? Extended grace more often? Not wasted so much time on trivial things? Worn the two piece swim suit on the beach and danced at all those weddings? Ordered fettuccini alfredo instead of soup and salad? I know, deep down inside, she would cheer me on to order the fettuccini alfredo.

Thanks, Elisabeth for again being an example, an encouragement for how to live this one life I've been given.