Manicure and a Mini Mid-Life Crisis

Since moving to Tallinn, once every three weeks, I treat myself to a manicure. This shocks most people who have known me for any good amount of time. The last time I truly cared about my nails was when I was in junior high. I was an awkward 12 year old on the brink of puberty. Perhaps one of the only body parts I could control during that time was my nails. God knows I wasn’t pretty; but my nails sure were.

Then came the dreaded day when my piano teacher had finally had enough of my rose-colored long nails, filed round and clicking on the ivory keys. She handed me nail clippers and directed me to the nearest trashcan in her studio. Any serious piano player cannot have long nails. I finally realized that my music was more important than trying to impress pubescent boys with something they did not notice any way. My nails have been rather plain (despite the special occasion) ever since…until I moved to Tallinn two years ago.

I don’t know why I started going to Nail Spa on Narva mantee road every month. At first I thought it gave me a well-deserved “pamper” break. Then I told myself I was just trying to be a part of the Estonian culture of beautiful women- tall, blonde, tan-in-the-winter, high cheek-boned and always manicured. 

Two days ago, I sat in the manicure chair. I had chosen a typical color for me – a minty, sage green. I like to choose a color that pops: white, brown, bright blue, teal, all shades of green. If I’m paying for a manicure, then I want people to notice. As I looked down towards the color as it sat, waiting to be applied to my nails, I had a change of heart. Red. I wanted a deep red- a red that no one would notice; a color completely expected.

It sounds quite juvenile, but I realized something there amidst the filing and nail dust. For the past two years, I have been trying to get noticed. My nails were nothing compared to the inner need I had to still feel beautiful. Still feel smart. Still dream of a life that makes a difference. Still have a voice. At the age of 36, in a crowded room, I was seeing the end of my own, little mid-life crisis. It didn't suddenly come to a halt in the middle of a poorly decorated nail salon. Weeks ago, this crisis started to crumble through a song.

As a part of conquering the weight gain that accompanied that mini crisis, I have added several good, fat-burning speed walks into my weekly routine. After years of teaching spinning, I now pump my arms and click my heels all around Tallinn’s roads and treadmills. As I walk, I listen.

I do not feel God’s inner voice often, but God has been using the most unexpected song to speak to me lately. The song keeps showing up everywhere. At a recent women’s conference I helped organize, I watched an auditorium full of ladies dance to it. I will hit “shuffle” on my massive library of itunes songs, and it almost undoubtedly is the first song to be chosen and repeated several times. I then fight my way through a busy mall, go to a NIKE store, and instead of the latest nightclub tune vibrating throughout the room, my song starts playing over the loud speakers as I enter. So, I keep listening to the words. {Listen to the song yourself, Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay, here.}

Today I woke up early and boarded a flight. My headphones were on as I watched beautiful Tallinn’s buildings disappear under the clouds. I was praying about Estonia and the people I’ve met. Then there was regret as I prayed for the people I’ve hurt in my pursuit to find selfish value. In the midst of my unsaid, inner conversation with God I felt a response. 

Why do you try to find value from others, when you have the undying approval and love of me?

If anything, the last two years have helped me clarify that I truly do love God above anything. Deep in my core, I know that He is real. A part of my devotion stems from the truth that God is the only one who candidly knows every part of me {my selfishness, my mistakes, my tiring pursuits, hidden thoughts; my dreams, gifts, and goodness}. He looks at me and says, no matter what I have done, that I am completely worthy. I am beautiful. I am made to accomplish great dreams. I am made to love him because of His great love for me. 

So, in a sky full of stars, I may not be the brightest. I may not be the strongest. I certainly don’t shine like a perfect, flawless diamond. But, He still sees me; just as He sees you. And as long as we are looking to Him for grace, there will always be beauty. We are not just a forgotten star blazing amidst the billions of others, we are unique and noticed.

I want to be one of the brave suns. I want to move out of the realm of worry and self-centeredness. I want to be completely humble, yet confident, in the beauty and strength God created in me. It was never mine to keep; to trap, admire and study it in front of a mirror. It is also not my creation to curse or degrade. It was always meant to illuminate the love, life and joy in us and to empower the same in every one we meet.

Unending love.
Unquenchable hope.
Unbridled peace. 

I can still sense His voice inside of me.

“In a Sky full of stars,
Each one has its place.
But you, my dear one,
Illuminate grace.”

{You can read the rest of my poem here. And take a moment, play the link to Sky Full of Stars again.  The words are sung for you too. He has always seen you.}