Nearly twenty-five years ago I took my sons to school one day, went back home, sat in front of the full-length mirror in our bathroom with some scissors and a comb, and bravely chopped off all my hair.
I had been trimming my own shoulder-length hair for years, even doing my own highlighting, but I was ready for something different. My hair is fine and straight without a lot of body. I was tired of hot curlers and curling irons and things that made styling my hair a dreaded chore. I decided I just didn’t want to be a slave to my hair.
I had been looking at pictures in magazines of short hairstyles and thought I could pull it off. I was too impatient to make an appointment with a salon for a professional consultation. I don’t know what came over me. I’ve always been creative and figured this was something else I could copy from a picture and achieve good results. I found out that doing it myself wasn’t really a good idea.
Don’t ask me how, but I survived a near disaster. After calling a salon with a cry of “Help! Emergency!,” my hair was properly restyled. I can now say that short hair and I get along very well. Believe it or not, except for the two or three times a year when my best friend (who just happens to be a hairstylist) gives me a professional cut and color job, I trim my own hair every 4-6 weeks. For someone who is blind in one eye this is quite a feat. As they say, practice makes perfect or maybe in this case…practice makes okay.
When I was a little girl I used to wake up early in the morning and sit on our family room floor with paper, scissors and crayons to satisfy my need for artistic expression. One morning as I happily cut and pasted my little heart out, my hair fell over my face. As only a four-year-old could reason, it seemed the best way to get it out of my eyes was to cut it off. So, I did.
When I realized I couldn’t put it back together with tape and glue I went to my father who was in his study reading his Bible. Lifting my arms up with hands stretched out as if presenting an offering, I showed him my dead chunks of hair and told him it “just fell out.” Thank goodness he was in the Word at the time because I don’t recall any harsh words or punishment for my fib or my crime. I do remember my mother standing me on the toilet later that morning, cutting my long, blonde hair to a chin-length bob, crying the entire time. She even saved a lock which I still have to this very day.
What is it about women and hair? Are we ever satisfied? My hair has thinned considerably the past several years. Woe is me. The only reason I highlight my hair is to add texture and body. I don’t have gray hair yet, but I really don’t think I’d mind if I did. I think gray hair is lovely. There’s something regal and royal about a woman who wears her gray hair with pride.
One of our weaknesses as women is letting our hair define us. I remember how devastated I was years ago when a surgeon shaved the back of my head before brain surgery. I actually asked my best friend to shave it all off because I didn’t see how in the world we could salvage the mess he made. When the nurse removed my stitches a week later she asked me, “Are you okay with this? Because brain surgeons definitely aren’t hairstylists.” She shared with me that women who lose their hair to chemotherapy often have a hard time with hair loss. I get this. I had wondered why I was grieving the loss of so much hair. I think it’s fair to say that most of us view our hair as our crowning glory.
But, I’m coming to understand something else. Something a little bigger than hair. I’m discovering what a privilege it is to grow older and I want to learn to do it with such radiance that others don’t even notice gray hair, thinning hair or even crow’s feet. I don’t want to become so concerned with keeping a youthful appearance that I forget to reflect the heart of Christ. The older I get, the more I want to see Him looking back at me in the mirror. When I let God cut and paste and style and color my soul and spirit hopefully there will be an inner beauty that produces an outward glow.
“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” Proverbs 16:31
I want my wrinkles to speak of a life well-lived. I want my aches and pains to scream grace. I want my scars to reflect the Cross. I want my smile to be genuine and my laughter rich. I want my words to be wise and my speech kind. I want my hands to move with purpose and my feet to run with perseverence. I want my arms to embrace in love and my legs to walk in peace. I want to see with Kingdom eyes and hear the King’s voice. I want to hold my head up high because one day it will hold a crown.
I want to grow old as gracefully as I possibly can.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment… Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4