Our Wrinkles Tell Our Stories

Yesterday was a day filled with joy and thankfulness. Since our daughter Kathryn’s birthday is on May 9, we have developed the tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day and her birthday together each year. It’s always a special day, filled with family and life. Sometimes it’s a hard day (especially those years when Kathryn ends her party with another seizure), but it’s always real, and I cherish the memories of these special days of celebrations, surrounded by the ones who love me best.

Last year, Kathryn was so very sick that there was a shadow hanging over all of us for many, many months — including Mother’s Day. This year, after a grueling surgery and very long recovery during the summer and fall, she is finally healthy and happy, and she sailed through yesterday with smiles and infectious joy. It was a great day.

We also always do a special “photo shoot” of the two of us. I love having these special photos of the two of us. Here are a few from this year.

When I look at these photos, the first thing I see is so much love! I LOVE this girl with all my heart, and she loves me. Her family is her world.

The next thing I see (besides the gray hair that I’ve decided to let go wild now), are wrinkles. These.

Kathryn's 14th and Mother's Day 2018 - #6 - Super Cropped

Mostly, I don’t mind these. You can read the stories of people’s lives through the lines on their faces. They are precious etchings of the pain and joy that make us all who we are, and I believe we should wear them with honor — like badges we’ve earned during the shadows and suns of life here on this earth.

But you see that one super deep one right between my eyes?

I hate that one. That’s a worry wrinkle. That’s only there because of the billions of times I was trying to carry my burdens alone.

Lately, I’ve tried to erase it using some wrinkle cream. But it doesn’t work. We can’t undo the paths we’ve walked in life — not those we have chosen to walk, or those that we found ourselves on unexpectedly.

The unique lines engraved into our faces are visible manifestations and vivid reminders of the journeyings of our souls. Those things can’t be erased. But we can learn from them. Therefore, we can cherish them.

This morning, during my quiet time, I came across these words while reading from “God’s Light on Dark Clouds,” written in 1882 by Theodore Cuyler:

“‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you!’ (1 Peter 5:7). The literal meaning of this tonic text is: ‘He has you on His heart.’ He who piloted Noah and all the precious freight in the ark, who supplied the widow’s waning cruse of oil, who put Peter to sleep in the dungeon and calmed Paul in the roaring tempest — He says to me, ‘Cast your anxieties over on Me; I have you on My heart!’ God’s offer is to lighten our loads by putting His grace into our hearts, and underneath the load. He then becomes our strength. This Divine doctrine of trust is a wonderfully restful one to weary disciples. It takes the weariness out of the heart. It is the fever of worry which consumes strength, and furrows the cheek, and brings on decrepitude! The secret [for Paul] was that he never chafed his powers with a moment’s worry. He was doing God’s work, and he left God to be responsible for results. He knew whom he believed and felt perfectly sure that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord Jesus.” ~ Theodore Cuyler, 1882

You see that bold text in that paragraph?

Worry wrinkles! If only I had learned a long time ago to trust my Father more — no matter what. If only I could really learn this now!

I am giving up on the wrinkle cream. That deep, deep worry wrinkle will be with me through life here. When I get to Heaven, I think it will be gone; wiped away (just as the sin that created that wrinkle will be wiped away); smoothed out of my forehead by the gentle touch of my Father who loves me so much and wants me to remember that I need to ask Him for the ability to lean harder on Him.

But until then, every time I look into a mirror, it’ll be there. And each time I see it, I will take a deep breath, consciously relax the muscles in my face, remember that God “has me on His heart,” and ask Him to carry my burdens for me.

And I’ll try to be thankful for this clear and conspicuous reminder that I carry with me everywhere.

Our stories are all precious. Even the parts that we wish we could undo are key pieces of our stories and of making us who we are in this process of becoming. And God writes great stories.