Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zest that Exudes

When I die, just put me in the box as is, or is it as am?  As I will be? 

Some women beg their friends to promise there will be no open casket when they die.  Why?  Mercy, they say, what if my hair isn’t done just so?  What if they put on the wrong color of lipstick?  Ew, what if I look gross?

As for me, I say put me on display for all to see.  Don’t bother with my hair or make-up.  Let everyone comment about how horrible I look.  Maybe people will finally appreciate all the effort I put into looking presentable at this season of life.

At the same time, tell everyone that for the first time ever, I do not care about my appearance.  Finally I will be free from my mortal body and sin nature that always cared too much how I looked and what people thought. 

Then I will be truly beautiful inside and out with no vanity or wrong motives.  Let my decaying body be a reminder to all who see it that I am not there!  Don’t waste money on embalming and beautifying my corpse.  Let my pale wrinkly old face serve as an object lesson.

I’ve shared before about my ongoing struggle against becoming a frumpy missionary, but as I grow older and wiser I wonder why on earth I fight the inevitable.  Money is precious, and worldly beauty is costly.  How can I rationalize the haircuts, the makeup, the clothing, and the shoes? 

Yet I look in the mirror, and I shudder to think what my family would be seeing all day if I didn’t touch up the results of a restless night’s sleep. Lord, help me to find balance!

This past week I met an exuberantly vivacious (is that redundant?) old woman who epitomizes true beauty.  I want to grow up to be her.  She radically changed my definition of loveliness.  True beauty has nothing to do with glamour, jewelry, clothing, hairstyles, or even teeth. 

If there were a missionary magazine looking for a centerfold of the most beautiful woman on earth, I would submit Valentina.  She has curiously split ear lobes, no teeth, failing eyesight, wrinkles galore, unruly gray hair, feet that shuffle, posture that stoops, and a voice quality that warbles and squeaks.

But you know what else she has?  Valentina possesses an inner glow, a zest that exudes joyfully from every pore of her being, even though she lives spitting distance from a cemetery and within sniffing range of the city dump. 

She is the me I want to be when they put me in that pine box someday. 

I want people to stand around and tell stories about my life, not about my decaying body.  I want people to smile and remember the real me, the radiant me who reflected God’s beauty and glory, just like Valentina.

What made me chuckle is that even my hero, Hermana Valentina herself, attempted to smooth down her long gray braids when she saw the camera, braids that were once carefully tied with red satin ribbons.  Vanity is an issue even among the world’s most astonishing beauties.

IRL* When I grow up, I want to be a Valentina who still acts young, not an old person trying to look young.


  1. I love this post, Jamie Jo! Your posts are so refreshing, real, and encouraging!

  2. Ezekiel's GardenMay 23, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    I, too, love this!!! Thank you for sharing your heart (and Hermana Valentina) with us. :)

  3. I love your take on this. I just got back from furlough, and since I'm dealing with jet lag and a busy schedule, no make up has become my new normal this week!

    This is good food for thought.

  4. Thanks for letting me share Valentina with you! It's been a pleasure.

    Someone wrote on my Facebook wall that I should donate my body to science. That's another thought.

    Just so you know that sometimes I think and write ideas that only flit through my brain temporarily, I told my daughter not to take this post TOO seriously - a little lipstick on a dead woman might go a long way. :)

  5. She is just the cutest little thing!! :)

    1. Glad you agree. Photos have serious limitations when the zest is from the inside out.

  6. I am deeply moved reading this post. I want to be Valentina when I grow up, too.

    1. We should form a club of Valentina-wanna-bes.

  7. I think they should comb my hair... or people will giggle too much.

    And I want the pastor to say that I am DEAD. I am not asleep - if I am please wake me and don't bury me. I am not "passed away". Or even worse "passed" (like gas?) I am not "departed" - I did that my whole life! Now I have "arrived".

    I'm dead! Admit it, and then we can bury me. But comb my hair; I'm scary without that.

    1. That's hilarious. I do not like the phrases "passed away" or "passed" either. I like the idea of finally having ARRIVED.

      At the risk of dissension, even dead doesn't cut it. I'll be more alive then than ever.

      But if I'm anywhere around when you reach your final destination, I'll make sure someone combs your hair just so no one has cause to giggle at your expense.


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