“…but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40:23)
Years ago I was talking with a friend after church about the resurrection. Not in any deep, meaningful way, of course. She just mentioned the scripture that says “even a hair of the head shall not be lost,” and she said that she hoped it only applied to the hair on top of one’s head and not to any other random hair that one might not want to have restored. She didn’t expound further and neither shall I; suffice it to say that I share her hope. But that’s not primarily what this post is about.
Well, maybe it is primarily what this post is about, because I frequently think of this conversation whenever the topic of resurrection and of receiving one’s perfected body come up. I always wonder what my perfected body will be like. I don’t have any particular ailments that need to be cured. Not physical ones, anyway. I have all my limbs and my eyesight and most of the hair on my head. (I know better than to wish for more of the latter. See: “The Monkey’s Paw.”) I suppose I could stand to hear a little better, but presumably after the resurrection my ears will be kept perfectly clean, so that kills two birds right there.
I haven’t done any scientific surveys, but my sense is that most Mormons imagine their perfect, resurrected bodies to be like their mortal bodies were during the “prime” of their lives. (This despite the fact that most heavenly beings are depicted as white-haired men with beards. I hope this is just metaphorical, like the angels with wings.) I’m not sure what the prime of my life would be. I’m 40 years old. I’m reasonably pleased with my body right now. I actually think it might look better than my 25-year-old body did. It works pretty well, too. It can’t run as fast, but it dances better. I think that will be more important in the afterlife.
As much as I complain about the deep lines that came from years of frowning and brow-furrowing, I think I actually like my 40-year-old face better than my past faces. I like the maturity of it. It no longer has an acne problem. It probably smiles more–and I make an active attempt to un-furrow the brow at regular intervals, though I will probably never give it up altogether. (I hope that doesn’t mean my face actually will freeze that way…for eternity! Maybe more active un-furrowing is called for.)
And I know that if all goes according to plan, I should have perfect eyesight after I’m resurrected–but I’d still like to keep these glasses around because I think they make me look smarter.
So if I get to choose my perfected body, I may very well opt for the 40-year-old model. (Unless I turn out like Lena Horne and look super-hot at 70. But I’m not one to count my chickens.) Assuming that my40-year-old resurrected body will not need to wear braces like my mortal 40-year-old body does. I don’t mind the braces so much now, but part of the not minding is the knowledge that it’s not eternal. Will I have to specify 40-year-old body and 42-year-old teeth? Make that 44-year-old teeth because I don’t want to be wearing a retainer in the afterlife, either. I don’t know. My orthodontist says that I’ll always have a little bit of an overbite because my lower jaw just isn’t…whatever…enough. (Of course, when he said “always,” he wasn’t referring to THE RESURRECTION!) I’ve decided I don’t care enough about the overbite to get surgery on my jaw to fix it (in this life). Will this overbite, presumably, be fixed in the resurrection? After I’ve had it for a lifetime, will I look weird without one? Will they have one of those computer programs like cosmetic surgeons have that shows you how it will look? (That might be an Urim and Thummim thing, for all I know.) It’s not really important to me. I’m just wondering.
I also have a mole on my chin that has not historically bothered me, up until the last couple years when it has started to resemble a wart more than a mole. I do not mind a mole on my chin. I very much mind a wart-looking mole. I keep going back and forth on whether or not I am vain enough to have it removed. This is another thing I wonder how much it will affect the look of my face. I remember when I was five or six years old, my father was called to the bishopric and he was asked to shave his mustache. I had never seen my father without a mustache, and I confess that initially I found his clean-shaven face repulsive. (Seriously, I wouldn’t look at him for, like, a day.) My father hasn’t had a mustache since, and my grown-up self thinks he looks much better without one and always did look better without one, but that could partly be familiarity talking. I really hope my father doesn’t have to have a white beard in the afterlife. (What if I emotionally reverted to my 6-year-old self and couldn’t look at him? A “day” in the afterlife could be a very long time!) How different would I look without my chin mole? Probably not very, but would there always be something a little “off” about me? I don’t know.
One thing I do worry about, speaking of hairs not being lost and all things being restored, is that I currently dye my hair–have for the last three years or so and intend to keep doing so until I die or start looking ridiculous, whichever comes last. I’ve never particularly liked my natural hair color, and I particularly do not like the 40-year-old version of my natural hair color, which is a dull brown streaked with liberal amounts of gray. The color I choose to make my hair is a light auburn, which looks fabulous, and I’m not just saying that to be conceited. Everyone says so. (So if I’m conceited, take it up with everyone else.) I very much want my hair to be light auburn in the resurrection. Permanently light auburn, because as much as I love the color, I hate the hassle of dyeing it (even though it is totally worth it). Do you think I could make that request? Or would I even need to–because really, I’ve always felt that I was meant to have hair this color, and it may well be that the resurrection will correct the congenital defect of my non-red hair? I certainly hope so.
I don’t want people to think I’m picky or anything. I take some pride in not being picky about a lot of things in life–but this is eternity we’re talking about. Do you think the hair thing is taking it too far? Is it like asking for the house salad except I don’t want the regular dressing, I want the balsamic vinegar and oil and I want it on the side? Do I dare specify that though my 40-year-old body is perfectly acceptable, if at all possible I would really like to have my 26-years-old-and-6-months-pregnant breasts? I do NOT want to end up pregnant in the afterlife, so if there is any possible Monkey’s Paw factor at play here, maybe it’s best not to bring it up at all.
But back to the hair thing, in addition to having my hair made permanently red, do you reckon I could also have my legs permanently shaved–or waxed, or whatever they do on the other side? Or will I be resurrected with a feminist enlightenment that recognizes hairy legs as a symbol of empowerment and self-determination?
Lest ye think I’m just some shallow lady who only cares about her looks, let me assure you that my primary hope is for my brain to be resurrected with as much wisdom as I’ve been able to accumulate over a lifetime but without the dementia or short-term memory loss. (Though if we could erase some of those long-term memories I haven’t been able to shake in mortality, that would be super-awesome.)
Speaking of super-awesome, though, the other day I was talking with my thirteen-year-old, who was expressing her disappointment that she won’t get wings after she dies because wings would be “epic.” I had to agree that wings would be pretty cool. I told her, though, that she might prefer to have detachable wings because wings that were permanently affixed to her person might make it difficult to change outfits and stuff.
We do get to change outfits in heaven, right? (Right?)
Artwork by Mary J.