Windsor Elliot was blessed with one of the world’s most beautiful faces. During the meteoric rise as a fashion model in the 1960’s, she appeared on the cover of Vogue four times. Diana Vreeland, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, coached her models with a six word maxim: “Fake it, Fake it, Fake it”. At the height of her career, Windsor began to grasp just how fake her life really was.
She never planned on becoming a model. Her childhood had not been easy. After her parents divorced, she became a ward of the State of California. For a while she lived in a juvenile center full of hopelessness, chaos and mindless authority. She grew up without a single memory of anyone telling her that trusting God might be a viable option for facing life. That was fine. She would carve her own path. That path took an unexpected turn at a party in Paris hosted by Salvador Dali, the world’s most famous surrealist painter. All the beautiful people were there. She was one of them but there was something about the whole experience that seemed fake. She asked herself “is there any authentic mystery and meaning to life-something that wasn’t fake?
Sometimes while walking down New York’s Fifth Avenue she cried out, “God, I can’t find you. If you are there would you please find me?”
Writing today under her married name of Jenny Guinness, she shares the story of how she became a follower of Jesus. Her memoir is called “Faces.” Jenny points out that everybody has three faces. First, there’s the face we’re born with. Second, there are the various faces we “put on” throughout our lives-the cosmetic, emotional and social masks we wear in order to appear happier or wiser or more alluring than we really are. Finally, there’s the face we are becoming-the visage that reflects the person who is gradually emerging over the course of a lifetime. Our culture is overwhelmingly preoccupied with the transition from Face 1 to Face 2. It’s the journey from Face 2 to Face 3 of course that actually matters.
Many of us struggle with what psychologists call the crisis of the False Self. There is a distance between who I really am and the person I think I should be. We put on a face that smiles, even though we are sad. A face that exhibits confidence even though we feel inept. The wider the gap, the more weariness we feel.
The most important call in your life is not what you do. It’s who you become. How does such a thing happen? It happens slowly. But as we offer ourselves day by day to God’s Spirit, it happens surely.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:8, “And we all, who with unveiled face contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being His into His image with ever-increasing joy-increasingly glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” This is an astonishing promise. Our “face,” our real self is being transformed into Christ’s image-His very self.
That process begins in this world and isn’t completed until we receive the gift of wholeness and holiness in the next. In the meantime, we don’t have to fake it, fake it, fake it to make it through life.
By God’s Grace we can develop more and more of the beautiful “face” that reflects the identity of our Lord.
Ron Naylor, Chaplain