Monday, August 28, 2006

Bad Hair Days and Endurance

Thirty years ago, a hair stylist with two detached retinas took one look at my baby-fine locks and said, “You need some layers!” So I went under the knife. Little did I know that it would take the better part of three decades to get rid of them! Over the years, I have looked like a little boy named Sue, a little girl named Fred, and a virtual biosphere of exotic pets and foliage. Let’s see. One year I looked like a cornered hedgehog. Then there was the year I resembled an hallucinogenic mushroom. And long will I remember the home perm that turned me into the living embodiment of an electrocuted sheep dog. If only Tim Burton was around back then… I’d be famous.

So when I had to contemplate losing my hair to chemotherapy last year, I figured it might be God’s way of letting me start all over.

How ironic He let me keep it…

I’ve been growing out layers since the time of smiley faces, bell bottoms, peppermint pots-of-gloss, Wacky Clackers, Skinny Dip Cologne, enchilada TV dinners, foil-covered rabbit ears, green and gold countertops, shag carpet, polyester shirts, puca shell necklaces, brown paneled station wagons, Pillsbury Space Sticks, Lipton Onion Dip, black lights, blue eye shadow, flower power and the year Georgia Tech squashed Notre Dame.

It exhausts me just thinking about it… that was a long time ago.

But I looked in the mirror the other day. And they were gone! The days of looking like a victim of an encounter with a possessed Ginsu knife were over. The layers had vanished! I had reached a personal appearance milestone three decades coming.

I had to stop for a moment and reflect on why it took so long.

I came to the conclusion that I’ve had an endurance problem. Rather than having an end goal in sight, I caved time and again to the impulse to make a quick fix. Hair’s not looking too good… so let’s go get some MORE layers. I knew 30 years ago the split second the lady whipped off the black cape and chirped “What do you think of the new you?” that I was not a layer person. I took one look at a boy named Sue glaring back at me in the mirror and cried like a Pacific tsunami. But rather than gut it out and grow it out… I ignored the desired end state and continued to take one step forward and three steps back with every “quick fix” haircut. I was going in reverse instead of moving forward.

Isn’t it just like the walk of faith. Maybe we’re plodding along as best we know on the narrow path. Then life hurls a Molotov cocktail and we leap for a quick fix to drug and numb our inflamed heart. Maybe we even know better. But off we go in directions that detour us from God’s ultimate purpose for us.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 1: 2-4

These verses are about going the distance with joy or hupomone—the Greek word for “patient and hopeful withstanding.” Because in pain and suffering there is purpose. The Bible assures us that trials produce endurance. And endurance leads to a desired end state of maturity.

Every time I whacked off another layer of my hair, I took a step back from a desired end state. You don’t get a “no layer” look by continuing to chop it off. How often in my walk with Christ have I done the same thing. All the detours and u-turns and switchbacks that have cut a winding and convoluted path.

James 1: 2-4 is one of my favorite passages. Because it gives us something powerful to hang onto. A light on the shoreline breaking the barren vista of darkness.

This thing called hope.


Anonymous said...

Endurance is such a hard word. It means that life will not be a sprint it will be a marathon with ups and downs. It is sometimes easy to run with endurance and sometimes it is the most difficult thing you can do. Thankfully sometimes we can see the fruits of our labor so that we can keep going.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

anon... your marathon analogy sent me to Hebrews which tells us to run with "perserverance" the "race marked out for us." We are to "fix our eyes on Jesus" and "consider Him who endured such opposition... so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Della said...

We all know the definition of insanity!

Diana said...

I'm the shallow one here. I think your hair has always looked great!

This life is a journey, often times a difficult one. But there are lessons to learn from every leg of our journey, and I've found that we learn the very most when our situations are so grave that we feel that we can't bear it. Those are the times that our souls are being polished and we are reminded that we DO need a Savior.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Della... have you ever in all of your life had a bad hair day??

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Diana... sometimes it seems like God polishes with a soft cloth... other times He uses sandpaper. But as you so eloquently suggest... there's purpose in all of it. even if we can't readily see it... it's there.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Diane B. and I were separated at birth. Not really. But we walk, talk, think, laugh, look alike. People frequently ask if we are sisters. Someone once asked if we were twins. You get the picture.

So imagine what happened recently. I ran into Diane at the baseball park. She now has a new hairstyle with...l-l-l-l-l-ayers! Like, 1,245 of them! (I stopped counting at 1,223.)

"I read your blog the day after I did this," she explained to me.

But here's the thing... she looks GREAT!

Ah... the lure of temptation!

Should I... or shouldn't I?