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Airbrushing My Life: Why Do It? - by John Clark

Airbrushing My Life: Why Do It?

I was recently preparing some photos for printing and came across a software program that corrects imperfections. Commonly referred to as airbrushing, this is all the rage. So I downloaded a trial version and began playing with our photos, the first one of Lisa and myself. The results?

I looked the same. I am apparently beyond airbrushing (there is only so much you can ask from modern technology). But Lisa ended up looking quite different: her wrinkles and blemishes vanished. The children agreed that their Mom looked ten years younger.

“What do you think?” Lisa asked.

I responded, “I can’t see the children.”

What I meant was that every one of our children is reflected in her face. Why do I want those reminders to go away? In truth, every face tells a story. Every face is the snapshot of a life.

Oscar Wilde, in his Picture of Dorian Gray, wasn’t the first to make this observation. And Lisa’s story is a great one; it is a tale that deserves to be told.

When others look at her, I don’t know what they see, but I see someone who has loved her children, laughed with them, cooked for them, sacrificed for them, cried over them, and prayed for them. I see someone who loves God. I see someone whom God loves. I see someone who loves me. It’s all right there in her face. Some might call it “aging.” I call it beauty. And it doesn’t need correction.

This isn’t my attempt to sound romantic or noble. It is simply an observation about beauty, and how we men often view it.

When you are young, you accept the fact that some day, beauty will fade. After all, in a world that doesn’t seem to be able to find any agreement about anything, it seems to agree on this fact: beauty fades. But if the whole world agrees on this, the whole world is wrong. True beauty does not fade. What often fades is our ability to see it. Sometimes we men let this happen in marriage, with disastrous results.

In marriage, some forget the true focus—the gift of self—and everything becomes blurred in the process. Some lose sight of that which was most beautiful; they become cynical and self-centered. The springtime of their souls becomes winter as pride bleeds the grace from their souls.

Some make ridiculous claims like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” as though beauty were about their own lens. But beauty doesn’t depend on me or my eye; beauty is there whether I happen to see it or not. The challenge to all of us is to see beauty where it really is, and to train our eyes, as well as our hearts and souls, to see it.

We husbands live in a difficult age—we are force-fed what the world calls beauty, but rarely has a society had a more distorted image of what it truly is. This can damage our relationships, but there is a cure: we must turn to God and ask for the grace to see beauty, because it is right there staring at us.

If we cooperate with grace, we recognize beauty. Grace helps us see things as they truly are. In the end, grace is the airbrush that corrects—not your beloved—but you.

May God grant us all that grace.

About John Clark

John Clark is a homeschooling father, a speechwriter, an online course developer for Seton Home Study School, and a weekly blogger for The National Catholic Register. His latest book is “How to be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford a Decent Cape.”
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