Hair, vanity and being surrounded by awesome people...
[Me, modeling my new look with my beautiful stylist...]
Hair has always been a funny thing for me. Funny in the sense that it's always been too important to me. Back in High School when the football team wanted to shave their heads to look tough in pics, I wouldn't. When I was a cadet at the Air Force Academy, our squadron wanted to all get flat-tops for a group bonding thing: (we were squadron 15, and they wanted to be "Flat Top 15"). I was lame and wouldn't do it.
It's hard to know why. Maybe I saw my dad's head, and knowing the inevitable, I wanted to cherish natural noggin growth as long as I could. Maybe it's because I liked how it looked or liked having something to fidget with when running my hand through it.
Regardless of the reason, it's very clear when I was told the end was coming as a result from chemo, that it was ultimately vanity.
The really convicting part was remembering the Bible doesn't have good things to say about that word.
To take pride in things that perish doesn't make any sense, but it's been something God has been dealing with me a lot about as I deal with cancer. In His grace, He has revealed many things that I needed to see the way He does: the things that just don't really matter. And, you know what's convicting about that? THEY NEVER DID! All the same, the reality is I'm being shown, for good reasons, because He truly loves me, that I'm more full of vanities and pride than I ever wanted to admit.
Take hair for example. It may have made me look "better" (as good as Lurch can look at least.) However, it wasn't hair or any form of how I looked that aided me in my matrimonial ambitions... much less in the quality of my partner. That was all God's grace and what Jesus had done in my life. Sara wouldn't have had time for me if Jesus' grace hadn't arrested my soul and transformed me. While I'm sure she didn't want to marry the elephant man, what truly mattered to her, because Jesus had also arrested her soul was the multiplication of Christ that was possible. In Christ, 1+1 is far greater than 2. For us, it's at least 8, and maybe by God's grace, lest our lives have been completely spent in other vanities, have made an impact elsewhere.
Going forward then the challenge is, what else in my life has God yet to show me that is pure vanity? He's been knocking down these idols systematically with a profound tactical precision. Maybe, just maybe when He's done all that I'll have left is all He ever promised: Christ.
Before I close, I do need to include another thought. I have to document God's grace in the awesome people I get to know. My new look wasn't self-initiated. Sunday morning, I was drying my head from the shower and was greeted with a face and mouthful of hair... freaked me out until I figured out it really wasn't a dead cat in my towel, but clumps from my head. After my subsequent shearing, I was a little nervous about what people at church or work would say. Stupid, yes, but true.
You know what the people at church said? Nothing.... why? Because they know why it's shaved, and they love me... really well! I found myself chuckling as I sang His praises yesterday with these fine brothers and sisters.
I also have an awesome work environment. No one said anything negative... if anything was said... it was only compliments. I don't deserve such people in my life.
Thank you to all of you for dealing gently with my foolish insecurity. Now, I'm more spurred on to see the freedom from my vanity, (in addition to no longer having to chase down my hair brush from one of my 6 daughters who stole it... it's officially retired.)
Lastly, I wasn't going to blog tonight, but I was spurred on by an awesome coworker to dig into a new book. He's been blessed by the Puritan writings as I have been. I've had All Things for Good, by Thomas Watson for a while and hadn't read it. I didn't get far (intro) before I was hit by a good quote. I hope you find it encouraging. Please note how he phrases how people typically think of the verse (Romans 8:28) vs what its more profound meaning truly captures.
"To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that ALL things which fall out shall co-operate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over."