Well, I've been 30 years old for almost three months now. My birthday was back in the early days of December, and as I approached the big milestone, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I wasn't super freaked out about turning 30 -- not like all the people in movies and tv shows seem to be. At the same time, though, I realized that I could no longer be considered a "young woman". Nope, I was soon approaching full-time regular womanhood.
And then, the big day came, and surprise: I felt no different than I had the day before, on the last day of being 29. If I'm completely, totally honest with you, inside I still feel like I'm 23. Maybe this is because 23 is the age I was when I got married and became pregnant (so became a mom). But when I think, "Wow, I'm 30," I know that logically I am, but inside I still feel like a 23 year old!
The biggest thing I've noticed, though, is the fact that at 30, I am much more content with my life -- and myself -- than I was at 20. At 20, I was much more introverted than I am now. I worried about what people thought of me, and I was painfully afraid of rejection -- even meeting my then-boyfriend (now husband!)'s friends and family caused me a lot of anxiety. I spent time on making sure my hair was perfect, my makeup was perfect and my clothes looked great. Now, I rarely wear makeup. I find it much better for my skin to just take care of it with proper washing and moisturizing. When I do want to look put together, I usually just put on some BB cream, mascara and lip gloss.
More than that, though, I find that I am not afraid of people not liking me anymore. I put myself out there -- and I think becoming a mom really helped me with this (enough time cooped up with a toddler and you can't help but become more social and try to make more grown-up friends!) -- and I don't worry if people don't like me or not. For the most part, anyway! I am who I am, and I certainly am flawed, but I also have the confidence to know that I bring a lot to the table -- as a wife, a mother and a friend. I wish I had this kind of confidence in my early twenties, but growing up from that time is exactly why I have it today. You can't put the horse before the cart.
So all in all, I'm very happy to be 30. However, I'm approaching the time of life when a lot of women feel they need to grasp at their youth that they feel is slipping away, even though if you ask anyone who is over 40, they will laugh when a 30-year-old says they feel old!
I think, however, that as women in Western society we have so much to live up to. The media portrays the perfect woman as beautiful, sexy, thin-but-curvy, polished and, of course, youthful. Ad campaigns are full of models who are probably a lot younger than they look, and Hollywood is constantly pairing young, fresh-faced women with older, distinguished-looking men. So it's no wonder that women feel self-conscious about aging. Men, in general, tend to be told they look "distinguished" as they age. Women, on the other hand, are faced with a barrage of advertisements on how to stop the aging process in its tracks.
But what does God say about aging? In particular, what is the example He gives us of a godly woman's attitude towards growing older?
Proverbs 31 contains a portrait of a "wife of noble character" -- given to King Lemuel by his mother (wow, even Biblical kings listened to their mamas! I mean, this should come as no surprise, given that Jesus performed His first miracle at His Mother's request!).
Proverbs 31:25 says: She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. In other translations, I've heard this as "she is not afraid of aging".
The chapter goes on to say that a godly woman does not worry so much about charm and beauty, but knows that the most attractive quality she can have is fear of the Lord. I can only hope that I can show all the virtues of a Proverbs 31 woman in my life, so that my daughter can grow into a confident, faith-filled young woman who is more focused on what is on the inside rather than what is on the outside.
In a world focused on wrinkle creams, Botox injections and fad diets, the Bible's take on womahood is so refreshing. If we trust God, we can take a step back from worrying about grey hair and wrinkles and focus, instead, on keeping our souls young. Matthew 18:3 says: And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Still, if you struggle with the idea of aging and society's unreachable standards of beauty, why not talk to a close female friend or relative about it? Or, check out a devotional that will show you your true worth in Christ. And don't neglect to take your troubles to Our Lady and ask her to intercede for you. She is your Mother -- and she is a woman -- she will understand.