Have you ever noticed that you've been doing something consistently, maybe daily - but you don't even know you were doing it until the day you stop?
Every morning when I wake up and trudge to the bathroom to start the grooming process, I stand before the mirror and take a look. I spend a few seconds evaluating what position, height or smooshiness my hair decided to form itself into during my sleep. Ponder any puffiness or pillow lines in my face. Then wonder to myself, "Am I pretty enough for a husband to love?", "Is this a face a man would be happy to wake up to each morning?"
I have no idea when I started doing that. My gut says it began about the time my relationship with Mr. Burns ended. Maybe it was way before that. Perhaps it has something to do with my brother glaring at me across the breakfast table, years ago on a weekend visit, when I had short, layered hair which tumbled and hovered all about my head by morning, and saying, "Sheesh, I feel sorry for the man who will have to wake up next to you."
But each morning, after sizing myself up, I have determined, "Yes, I'm pretty. Someone should feel fortunate to see this face each day."
Back in my 20s when I was still optimistic on first dates, if I liked the guy, I would take a moment to assess if his was a face I would want see across the dinner table every day for the rest of my life. (it was not so much about how attractive he was, just if I liked his face. Because admit it, there are faces you don't want to see across from yours every day!) I guess I assumed they did the same to me.
Well, about a week ago, I stumbled to the bathroom one morning, studied the mirror for a second before thinking, "Who cares? It doesn't matter."
That may sound like success. But it was when my BFF said, "Good for you!", that I realized, no, it's not success. It's not progress. It's something more like despair.
It felt more like, "If there is never ever a day in my life that I get to wake up next to my husband, what does it matter if my face is pleasing?"
Imagine there's a lovely painting that went straight into a dark dusty attic before ever having an audience, then the house burns down and no one ever got to appreciate it. Does it matter how pretty it was? What care the painter put into each brushstroke? Nope. It's a painting that never fulfilled it's destiny. Calling it a shame is generous. What you mean is that it never mattered.
It doesn't matter. Who cares?
That's one of the things that I struggle with in just my daily life. Everywhere I go, I see couples. Out to lunch, at the mall, even driving down the street. Most places I see couples, I wonder what brought them together. Did they simply find each other attractive? Do they ever even discuss the wonder of God's gifts to the world? Have they ever even been to church together? Do they visit the elderly? Volunteer at the city mission together? Then why do they deserve to have a companion in life?
Of course, I know attraction has to do with more than just the physical. But I also realize if a man is ever going to fall in love with me, he'll have to find me attractive first.
I don't like to admit this, but sometimes I look at couples and find the wife to be frumpy or homely and it just makes me frustrated. If I'm doing my job of looking good enough, and being dismissed - how did Ms. Frumalump over there get a husband? Hey, I'm not proud of these thoughts - but there they are. It possibly has to do with the emphasis my mom put on always looking my best. As though it's disrespectful to thrust yourself into society without a bit of blush and lipstick. It's just common courtesy to be put together. Why wouldn't you look your best?
That's part of the agony of being single during the entire span of your life. You know that your other fine qualities are more important in sustaining a relationship. But no one will ever notice all those fine qualities if they don't notice a pretty face first.
Ultimately the pretty face doesn't really matter, and after a lifetime of making sure you possess that okay-looking face, it's a harsh truth to realize. Worst of all, then what?
2 months ago