The older I get, the more I discover there are applicable spiritual lessons in the midst of my mundane daily experiences. Sometimes my “ah-ha” comes quickly; other times I am oblivious to the obvious. While I am transparent in my journey, I usually don’t blog about an issue until I have worked through it and sense the Holy Spirit’s leading. However, this time I feel prompted to write while I am smack in the middle of a huge transition. I know this may seem rambling and perhaps a bit shallow, but...
Y’all, it’s my hair.
All my life, my hair has been the source of my distress and countless meltdowns. Case in point, my school pictures: years of documented bad hair days. While I am blessed to have a thick head of fast-growing healthy hair, it is arrow-straight and no matter what I want it do, it does whatever it wants.
Then there’s my bangs. Early childhood photos are clear evidence of my life-long bang-trauma-drama. I remember – before the invention of the curling iron – my mother slathering my forehead with Dippity-do and taping my bangs down before sending me to bed; the morning results were not pretty. Even now, despite bending the stubborn hair with a curling iron and plastering it with glue-like hairspray, after mere moments of humidity, my bangs will straighten…as in straight out, pointing at you.
In the early 80s, I discovered the solution to make my hay-straw locks more manageable: the perm. From big-poodle hair to the gentler body-wave, I sported curls for well over 15 years…until that day in the church stairwell.
At that time, exiting from the balcony seating after the worship service was a slow, noisy journey down the narrow stairwell. On this particular Sunday, one of the guys from the singles group was on the step behind me and we were chatting when, in mid conversation, he blurted out, “Wow, you have a lot of gray hair!” Stairwell conversation instantly ceased, as did the traffic flow. You could have heard a pin drop. A few women gasped in disbelief; men averted their eyes. An older gentleman a few steps behind us cleared his throat, pounded the guy on the back and, after calling him son, said something I wasn’t privy to. While stunned, and not usually quick with a come-back, I gave him the stink-eye and managed to mutter a truthful statement, “And you wonder why you can’t get a date!”
The next day I made an appointment with my hairdresser. She was the bearer of bad news: I could not have both; it was either color or curl. Traumatized, I chose color.
And that was the beginning of a high maintenance, expensive regiment. Every five weeks I have sat in the salon chair for my stylist to work her magic. I have gone from shades of brunette to blonde to dark auburn and back to brunette. In between appointments, I would carefully arrange my hair to conceal my ugly gray root line, which in my opinion, resembled a skunk-stripe. In my braver moments, I would stare down the gray. It appeared I had not inherited my father’s lovely silvery-white hair, but instead some kind of genetically mutant rat-gray color.
As I aged out of my mid-50s into my late-50s, and with retirement on the horizon, I knew I needed to simplify and financially streamline my lifestyle, including my regular salon visits. When I first told my stylist that I wanted transition to my natural color, she said I was too young to go gray; however, when she realized I was serious, we discussed a game plan. I left with a much lighter color and a lot of blonde highlights. I really enjoyed the blonde, and even more, I was delighted my roots were less noticeable between color appointments.
The daring color change prompted another big change: I decided I was done with bangs. I confess, there were many days I almost took a pair of scissors to them; instead I went through excessive amounts of hair products. And I discovered they still sell Dippity-do.
As I was transitioning from brunette to blonde, banged to bang-less, the Lord was steadily refining some areas of my life; specifically, what I thought of myself and what I thought others thought of me. In the midst of the fire, I realized I needed to clean up my stinkin’ thinkin’ and replace my ugly self-talk with His truth. I am His creation, designed with great love and attention to detail. I am fearfully and wonderfully made to be perfectly me. I am made for the applause of Heaven, not the accolades of man. Saying I believe those truths is easy; living like I believe them is hard.
A couple of months ago, when I paused to examine my roots, I was surprised at what I saw: white, a hint of silver, and jet black. What? Where was the rat-gray? I was fascinated at the unexpected change. I excitedly thought, just what is the Lord doing? Several times over the next couple of weeks, I studied the new emerging strands. And then I started to ponder, what if…
Then I spontaneously cancelled my hair appointment. I decided to roll with it and see what happens. Honestly, I’ve received a lot of comments. While most are encouraging and kind, some have been borderline ugly. And I feel like I must explain my seemingly irrational decision…
See, my incorrect perception of having bad hair has ruined way too many of my days. I am tired of society dictating what is acceptable for me. But the true motivation is that I sense the Lord is challenging me to boldly walk out the truths I have recently learned.
If I am God’s creation, designed with great love and attention to detail to be perfectly me, then isn’t my gray hair part of His design for me in this season of my life? And, if I am to live in a manner that pleases Him alone, then why in the world am I coloring my hair because someone else thinks I should?
To be clear, I am not suddenly against coloring my hair. In fact, I am currently using a shampoo to tone down the brassiness of my remaining chemical-color. I am just very curious to see is going to happen as my natural color grows out. Will it be silver? Salt and pepper? Snow white? Or will I decide I need to meet Miss Clairol after all? Only time will tell.
But there is one thing I know for certain right now: regardless of my hair color, I want to be perfectly me.
A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.
~ Proverbs 16:31