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.