Another Perspective

I attended a wonderful family wedding this past weekend and enjoyed great company and delicious food along with an eye-opening perspective worthy of Lenten reflection that came from — of all places — the restroom!

Standing at the sink, washing my hands, minding my own business — which I try to do on a fairly regular basis — I had to laugh (or else I might have cried) at the way in which I was brought into a conversation.

Next to me was an older woman — surely much older than myself — sort of reprimanding two young girls for the stiletto heels they were wearing and in which they could barely stand. The older woman concluded her words to these two young women with a harumph and this line, “Well, you will see when you are older that you won’t choose to suffer for fashion!” at which point the woman turned, looked me squarely in the eye, and said, “Right?”

I admit that this was one of those very few times in life when I have been speechless. I looked at my reflection in the mirror and tried to quickly figure out why she felt I could support her statement about age and lack of fashion concerns. My outfit wasn’t anything that had been hanging in my closet for years and so I knew it was somewhat fashionable. My makeup was done nicely — no 70’s frosty blue eye shadow to reflect my high school years — and my new hair cut was quite nice. Yes, I have lived a fair amount of decades and yet I’m often told I don’t look my age. So when this woman turned to me to confirm that an older person doesn’t suffer for fashion I simply remained silent. My mind raced with thoughts: Was she suggesting I looked old? Was she suggesting that my appearance said I didn’t care about fashion? Was she suggesting I was old AND didn’t care about fashion?

I giggled my best “girl” laugh — intended to sound young and fashionable — and left the restroom. The whole incident was actually quite funny and I shared it that night with some relatives — all of whom appreciated both the humor and the underlying message: we don’t always see ourselves as others do.

Lent is a time of reflection and, ultimately, seeing ourselves as the good Lord sees us. We do the things that show God our earnest desire to foster a deeper relationship with Christ — we sacrifice things we love, we spend more time in Scripture study, we pray more, we watch more EWTN and listen to more Catholic radio — but do we ask Him to allow us to see ourselves as He sees us?

Sometimes, when we do all the right “things” we get a sense of accomplishment that fosters a false sense of self. I know that when I spend time in Scripture study, I do feel better about my journey. And that time is well spent. However, until I can see myself as God sees me I might not fully realize, let’s say, that the ½ hour I gave to the rosary was only the tip of the iceberg as far as what I needed to give to prayer.

It’s like at the wedding, where I had one view of myself and a complete stranger had quite another. This isn’t to say that my view wasn’t somewhat on target but having another’s perspective helped mine become more focused. My clothes, while fashionable, were far different than what the young girls were wearing. My hair, while nicely cut, wasn’t hanging in long tresses down my back. My shoes managed to be both sensible and yet somewhat fashionable — a far cry from the spike heels worn by the girls in the restroom.

The next morning I could better understand why this woman had looked to me for confirmation. Yes, I might be holding up well, but I was much closer to her age than I was to the young girls to whom she was speaking. And, I have to admit, she was right. When we get older we just don’t suffer for fashion the way young girls do! It may have taken awhile, but I came around to admitting the truth.

As Lent begins to wind down, it is probably a good idea to ask God to reveal to us how He sees us; but, first we must be willing to put aside our own perceptions. Then, and only then, will we be able to fully understand how each step in our Lenten journey can bring us closer to Christ.

Christ is, after all, the truth that sets us free!

Cheryl Dickow

By

Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at www.BezalelBooks.com. To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at Cheryl@BezalelBooks.com.

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  • Cooky642

    I’m sure that the “older woman” was not critizing you, but looking to another adult for confirmation. After all, it IS mostly the young who are willing to suffer for fashion’s sake. As we mature, we see how foolish fashion trends are (especially as they become out-of-reach for my size and shape!), and, hopefully, see the value in “suffering” for Christ.

    If it’s any consolation, I’m sure the girls paid no attention to her (or, to you, either), laughing about an old “fuddy-duddy”. Let them be girls: they’ll find out soon enough that “fashion” is a god not worthy of the aches and pains it inflicts on us (not to mention the $$$ it demands of us)!

  • Claire

    Too funny!

  • bambushka

    Now that I have a little snow on the mountain, I tend to spend much less time thinking of how I look, and more about how I behave. To grow old gracefully is a wise statement. You are as old as you feel, but many are mentally stuck in their 20/30s. Even my mom who is closer to 90 than 80 says she thinks in her mind she is still young even tho her body betrays that notion.

    To grow old gracefully. To not remain juvenile. To attain wisdom. To work your way towards heaven.

    These axioms are what those who are young need to learn and understand, and sometimes that understanding comes with I need to be in a comfortable position (shoes) so that I can hear the voice of God.

    I took a trip at Christmas time, and because of the injury and repair, I may never wear pretty shoes again. After 3 months with leg elevated and iced, I have come to the conclusion that fashion and wants are not all that important. As long as my need is Christ, everything else is superfluous.

    Life changes in a heartbeat, and hopefully we have the prayer skills and fortitude to be able to use our newly changed life for the glory of God.

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