IVP - Strangely Dim - Lashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

March 22, 2010

Lashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

For some time now, I've been on the hunt for The Perfect Mascara. (Bear with me here, boys. There is a point to this. And it might give you some insight into the opposite sex.) No clumping or smudging. Not too thick but still visible. The right color for my eyes. Small brush. Not too expensive. Trying out a new kind is risky, though, as one tube of mascara lasts for quite some time. Even if I hate it, I feel obligated to use it up before buying more, since I spent money on it. You see the difficulty of the situation.

When one tube finally does come to an end, I get excited to try a new kind in hopes that it will be stunning, smashing, revolutionary. (Okay, maybe not revolutionary, but certainly eye-opening--in a lid-lifting, lash-lengthening kind of way.) I recently had just such an opportunity when, after giving up on two kinds of mascara I had gotten for free, I conducted an unofficial poll among friends, read about a few suggested brands in a magazine, spent entirely too long wandering around the makeup section in Target and finally made my selection.

Since I know you simply won't sleep until I tell you how it turned out, I'll spare you the suspense. The new kind was better but not perfect. Definitely tolerable for the duration of the tube, but maybe not worth buying again. So the search continues. (I feel your sympathy dripping through the wireless access.)

I notice the difference between each kind of mascara, whether it's good or bad. Each brand has its own particularities, its own nuances. Each does something a little different with my lashes, for better or for worse. Yet each time I've switched brands and eagerly applied the new mascara, guess how many people have noticed? Zero. No "Hmmm . . . something looks different about you today," or "Are you getting more sleep? Your eyes look really bright today," or "Wow, I never noticed what long lashes you have." Not a single comment to date. And I think I know why.

Because nobody cares.

Apparently I am the only one who studies, examines, analyzes, critiques and reexamines my face, and particularly my eyelashes, closely enough to notice a change as subtle as new mascara.

And this is why (one reason among many) I desperately need Lent. In our self-oriented, image-crazed, "it's all about me" culture, it's easy for me to get distracted by not just what I own or don't own, not just what I'm wearing and how I feel about how I look in it, not just what my hair and makeup look like, but also the minutia of what the heck my eyelashes look like on a given day.

Lent pulls me away from my bathroom mirror, outside my apartment with all its stuff, farther back, even, than my job and my relationships, way back before I was even on this earth, to three essential truths about myself:

I am created in the image of God.

I am a sinner.

I am saved by God's grace, through the love and sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Lent reminds me of this bigger picture, this reality that is so much truer than the distractions I so often live in. On Ash Wednesday we're reminded that from dust we came, and to dust we will return. We're marked with ashes. Next week, Holy Week, we're reminded that, through Jesus' death for our sin, we're marked with blood. Then, on Easter Sunday, in Jesus' resurrection, we're reminded that we're marked with life: abundant life that manifests itself in compassion and love and unity and grace and truth and light. These markings point us to the final day, the culmination, when Jesus returns and every tribe and tongue and nation falls down before him and confesses Christ as King. On that day, our earthly possessions will pass away, worth nothing, and our broken bodies will be made new, whole, glorious.

And I can guarantee you I won't be thinking about my eyelashes.

One brave and beautiful coworker friend of mine gave up makeup for Lent. I hope one day I'm courageous enough to do the same. I won't give it up because makeup is bad, of course, but just because it will be a tangible reminder every time I look in the mirror, every time I'm tempted to get obsessed over the petty details of my life, of what really matters, of what world we live in--God's kingdom reality that has different values and priorities from this fallen world that he's using us to redeem.

I suppose, when I use up this tube of mascara, I'll try a new kind. By then another Ash Wednesday will most likely be just around the corner, with its needed perspective on who I am and what really matters. In the meantime, I hope my eyes will simply be open to see the minutia of God's kingdom--the hundreds of ways he's at work redeeming the earth with compassion and truth, with love and light.

Posted by Lisa Rieck at March 22, 2010 8:47 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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