Saturday, November 13, 2010

No Competition

It began to dawn on me when I entered the party that the only husband that checked me out was Papa Joe.  None of the wives inched towards their men in a proprietary way.  The message was clear -- I'm no competition. I am finally off center stage and standing in the wings. 
In the wings I am free to  applaud  the next generation of younger women. 
This role has been passed down to me and I choose: to catch them at their best, tell them they are pretty,  brave, smart or  however they shine.  I try to remind them that the ordinarily exhausting days that pile one on another are a foundation for the masterpiece that will be their life's most important work.
When I was taking a cooking class in Barcelona one of the young women in the class jokingly referred to her hips a few times.  "When I eat this it will go straight to my hips."  "It is hard to work in close quarters because of my big hips." And so on. 
In reality she was a beautiful 30 something from Australia.  Here we were in an exotic city having the experience of a lifetime and you know where her focus was?
When we took a break I sidled up to her,  out of hearing distance from the others, and told her; "You are so beautiful.  You will never be this gorgeous again.  One day you will look back at the photos of yourself on this trip and say 'Why didn't someone tell me I was pretty?"
"Well little girl -- I'm telling you now.  Don't waste it."
Young women have a hard time getting encouragement from other women their age because there is a subtle unspoken competition between us in that season.  Who has the best decorated home, who is the most fit, who grinds her own wheat for her homemade bread ( someone probably grows their own  wheat for Pete sakes) who has the most children and can still act perfect? (Michelle Dugger wins this one but I'd pay big bucks to look in her medicine cabinet.  There has to be some big time Valium rolling around in there).
One day I woke up and realized for me the contest is over.  I was three score and two years old and not a contender any more.  It has come as a big relief but not without responsibility. 
My position from here forth is to pray for, serve, encourage and praise the young women  -- you know, the ones who filled in my seat at the PTA.

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