The Perfect Woman

I have known some real beauties in my life. By that I mean they are just naturally beautiful, gifted, kind, generous, fair, and have been blessed by wealth. Let’s see. Let me count them…whoops. I made a mistake there.

I actually don’t know any of those “lucky” ones after all, because as humans, we all have flaws. Maybe it’s only in the movies that we see visions of these lovelies, living a charmed life.

Or maybe you know someone like that. A woman you’d love to hate, but you just can’t because she’s so amazing.

Here’s what most of the women I know are like – their eyeliner might be a tad off if you look too close because they were drawing it on while their toddler peed all over the floor (those pesky kids just cannot make it to the bathroom on time); they have put aside their gifts and talents career-wise while they have and raise children; their generosity and mercy often comes because of not fitting in with other women and girls; they’re wealthy and beautiful, lovely and kind, but one or all of their kids has been struggling for so long with school that they’re at the end of their rope.

To men, the perfect woman is thin or just curvy enough, is an excellent cook, rarely speaks a word that isn’t 100% edifying to his ego, makes other men jealous of him, is smart and makes a good living, has plenty of sex drive, and…well, for some of them, if you throw in that she’s a Christian, that’s just an added bonus.

Am I too jaded? Maybe. A little too experienced with the wrong kind of man? Perhaps.

Answer me this – why do we tell our children they are perfect just the way they are, flaws and all, but cannot say the same about our mothers, sisters, friends, pastors’ wives, mother-in-laws, or colleagues? What is this innate need to find the imperfections of women we know – or even ones we’re just people-watching – in order to feel better or worse about ourselves?

I don’t think it’s culture or models or living in an affluent city full of gym bunnies, like I personally do. I think it’s human nature. And that is one tough mother to fight.

Before my husband and I got married, we did about a five-minute “marriage counseling” thing with our then-pastor. He said that he prances around in his birthday suit, despite aging and whatnot, while his wife covers her eyes. Face it, ladies – men just keep getting older while we’re supposed to stay the same as we looked on our wedding day.

Here’s a fact of life – there are more men on this planet than women, and a man would be hard-pressed not to find another woman who would take him if you didn’t. I’m not saying he will or even wants to – I’m just saying that I think that’s why most of us are so obsessed with getting older. We can pretend it’s for our friends or society as a whole, but if we cut all the you-know-what, I think you would discover that being attractive to men is what drives this. Especially your man.

It’s tough being a woman. Everyone else’s life can appear so perfect, and even when you know it’s not, they seem to be handling the challenges with more grace and serenity. But we all have secret hopes, desires, and dreams that we don’t always share with anyone else. That we put on the back burner for later in life. And as time marches on across our faces, breasts, and butts, we realize there is no later. There is no second chance. The time has passed for most of us. And even if that dream or wish isn’t as important to us, we find ourselves mourning the passing of it just the same.

So basically, life can just become a big ole pile a poo and we can just wallow in it, with our Sunday-smiles for others while we die inside. Or – and aren’t you glad there is one? We can look at life the way God intends us to.

You have a choice, regardless of circumstances, to look at your body, your home, your kids, your husband, your friends, your job – your life – with compassion and mercy for yourself and for the people in it. When I stand in front of the mirror and frown at my belly bulge, I have to remind myself to cradle it like I did when carrying my boys. LIFE has grown from that part of my body. Suck it in and put on some lipstick y’all.

Or we can just stew in the disappointments. I am staring 40 in the face, and alternate between grief and excitement. I keep waiting to mellow. I hope it comes soon. I want to age gracefully, so I pray for that when I realize I am not.  A woman’s life is not at all better than mine simply because of her address and the labels on her clothes.

I think to have compassion for other women, we first have to extend some radical grace to ourselves.