Monthly Archives: June 2010

My hairstyle as a metaphor for my life

So, my hair. I’ve had an interesting relationship with it. Mostly, we’ve gotten along and it’s a strong friendship formed over these many years. But, like with any relationship, there are things I don’t like about the other party. I wish my hair was thicker and either curly or straight, not this weird in-between place it likes to call home. When it’s hot and humid out, I get little curly cues at my temples – not the cute kind you see on toddlers, but the frizzy why-won’t-you-just-lay-flat kind. Like most things in life, I wish I could control it. But alas, my hair is its own person and I have to accept her for who she is.

Its only been in recent years that I’ve been diligent about keeping my hair cut and styled on a regular basis. My usual pattern is to cut it short, then let it grow long….then get tired of it and cut it off again…then get tired of short hair…and the cycle continues. I only went to the hair dresser every six months or so, when I absolutely couldn’t stand it’s scraggly state any more. My hair has been in a short bob for a few years now and I started going to the stylist regularly in Colorado. My friend cut my hair and I realized that it worked for me to make appointments before I left. I needed structure. Plus, with short hair, you have to keep it more maintained than when its long. So I started getting my hair cut every six weeks and it looked pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

This year I’ve decided I’m tired of the short hair and I’m ready to go long again. The problem is, my hair naturally looks good short and, in all honesty, its not in top form when it falls past my shoulders. Oh, it’s fine, but it lays kind of flat and doesn’t get a lot of attention. But I love the convenience of long hair! I can throw it up in a ponytail whenever I want and it just doesn’t take much work in the morning. I’m all for low-maintenance.

I’ve been kind of excited about growing it out, but if you’ve ever done this, you know that it is a painstaking process. I went to the hair dresser a couple of months ago and had her cut the split ends and make it all healthy – to ensure an optimum growth environment. I had another appointment yesterday and before I went, I thought it was a little unnecessary because my hair was doing fine. A trim would have spruced it up, but it wasn’t vital. I went to the appointment and sighed with pleasure as Robin shampooed my hair and massaged my head. Side note: is there anything better than having someone wash your hair?! Heaven. Anyway, she washed, she cut, we talked. As she was finishing up, she mentioned something about keeping it at this length, is this how I wanted it, yada yada yada. And I thought, oh no, we are not on the same page. She obviously didn’t realize that when I said I wanted to “grow it out,” I meant until it fell past my shoulders. I got frustrated because I didn’t know how to tell her that I no, I didn’t want it in a bob anymore and yes, I do want it to be long. I even told my sister one time, “I don’t care if it looks good short, I want it long!” But I didn’t know how to tell Robin because, after all, she’s the expert. She knows how my hair would look best and I didn’t want to hear her to say that it actually isn’t a good idea for me to have long hair.

Right now, I can’t believe I’ve written this much about my hair. But stick with me, I’m going somewhere…

As I left Robin’s house yesterday with an adorable haircut and a scowl on my face, I realized that my approach to my hair is how I approach life. It is interesting to me that my big issues in life manifest themselves in small ways. No area of my life is free from my personality. This issue with how I want my hair is the same way I feel about my career. When I was a teacher, people told me how good I was at it, but I brushed them off and said that I didn’t care because what I really wanted to do was Young Life. When someone says my hair looks good short, I think they better not get too attached because I like it long. I get this idea in my head of what I want and nothing else will do. If I want long hair, by golly, I’ll grow it out. If I want to go on Young Life staff, I’m gonna try my darndest to make that happen. I completely shut out the opinions and wisdom of others to pursue the thing I want. This has happened in my relationships too. In the past, I didn’t listen when people said, “Don’t date him,” because I wanted to. So I did. Apparently nothing can get in the way of me getting what I want.

I would like to think that it’s endearing to be stubborn. You know how sometimes people refer to a person’s stubbornness with a chuckle and playful punch in the arm? They say things like, “Oh that Kate, she just always has to learn the hard way.” I think deep down they’re frustrated and just laughing it off. As far as I know, stubbornness isn’t a fruit of the Spirit. It’s not one of those things Jesus encourages us to have. In fact, I think we’re meant to be the opposite – to heed wise counsel and die to ourselves. We are meant to put aside what we want sometimes because our flesh usually doesn’t want the right thing. So I started thinking through this yesterday and thought about what would happen if I *gasp* listened to the people in my life and took their advice. Now, the hair thing is trivial and whether or not I wear it short or long isn’t going to affect the state of the world. But I want to listen to people’s advice in other area’s of my life. I want to take a step back and think, “Hm, why is it that I don’t want to teach? Is it my stubbornness or a nudging from God to try something else?” When the people in our lives help reveal to us who we are, we would be wise to listen.

I haven’t decided what to do about my hair. I didn’t make another appointment with Robin because I figured we didn’t have the same vision. I thought I’d just grow it out on my own and not go back until sometime in early December. But I’m not so sure now. Maybe if I learn how to take the advice of others in something small, it might be a little easier when something big comes along. I want to hear God’s voice even in the mundane and hear Him call me to something better through the voices of my loved ones. I don’t want to keep making the same mistakes over and over and just settling on the lie that “I just have to figure things out for myself.” What if I listened to my close friends and family when they cautioned me, even if I didn’t agree with them at the time? I’ve done the opposite enough to know that I usually end up on their side. When I get deeply involved in a situation or relationship, I have a hard time seeing the truth. So what if I said, “Ok, I love you and trust you, and you’re probably right,” the end? It’s something I hope I’m growing into.

And maybe it starts with a hair cut.

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Such Sweet Sorrow

“When I was 6 years old, I had an ant farm. After a few months, I opened the top, left it outside. The next day, the farm was empty, all the ants were gone. But they’d left behind these tunnels, all these empty space they’d been living in, working in for months. I remember staring at this empty ant farm, noticing one last ant still inside, still moving little grains of sand. I watched him for a while until he began making his way through the maze of tunnels and finally climbing out the top. Anyway, once he was outside on the grass, he just stopped – it was like he was trying to decide which way to go. But then, finally, off he went.”

(from the season 1 finale of Felicity)

Graduation was on Saturday and now all the girls are gone. As I started saying goodbye to people and watching them carry boxes out to their cars and give tearful hugs to their friends, I started getting sad. There was so much activity leading up to graduation and then, all of a sudden, they were gone. I was left with a sharp pain in my chest, a melancholy that swept over me unexpectedly. It hit me when I gave a huge hug to one of my senior girls I had gotten particularly close to – I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Not long after she left, I met up with her and her sister (who I adore as well) for coffee. I needed the closure and a little longer of a goodbye.

I guess up until Saturday, I didn’t realize how attached I became to the girls here. All during the school year, I would jet out of town as soon as I got the chance and towards the end I spent a lot of time alone in my room. It was like I got overstimulated or just took for granted that they’d always be here when I got back. But on Saturday, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay at school and soak up the last drops of their presence. As I walked around and looked in their rooms, I thought of how much their lives filled those spaces this year. They lived and breathed, laughed and loved, yelled and cried in those rooms. And now, all is quiet and I’m left with a sense of bittersweet loss over their absence.

I know that most of them will be back in the fall, and I know it will be great with new adventures and memories, but nothing will be like this year. It was this year that I fell in love with this school and with all the girls around me. They became a part of my world just as much as I became a part of theirs. I got to keep them company when they were homesick, watch movies and eat pizza on Friday nights, drive around town singing to Justin Beiber at the top of our lungs, giggle as we scarfed down huge meals at IHOP. They got to see the best and worst of me, which kept me running back to Jesus for strength and wisdom. I look around now and remember the girls with fondness and love.

I realized something cool the other day. You know, at the beginning of the year I was embarrassed to tell people I lived at a boarding school with high school girls. I mean, what kind of a grown up does that? I tried to encourage myself by thinking I was like Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea), but at times I was nervous about waking up one day and being a single old woman still living here. But somewhere along the way, I fell in love and all of my insecurities melted away. Once I admitted that I really liked being here, it didn’t matter to me what people thought. The truth is, I do miss being in a house with girls my age and I hope I get married someday and have a home, but right now, this is exactly where I am meant to be. It’s breathtaking to have the feeling of being exactly where God wants you to be and living in the peace and joy of that truth. And the cool thing I realized is this – I do think God wanted me here to minister to these girls, but I think He just knew that I’d love it. He created me with a capacity to love and feel passionately and find life in relationships. I cannot express the contentment this brings me. I picture God with a huge smile on His face saying, “I knew you’d love this…this is all for you.” He is beautiful.

So not only did I fall in love with the girls and (some parts of) the school, but I fell more in love with Jesus too. I’ve learned that He constantly calls us out of ourselves and into places that seem ridiculous, but usually end up being perfect for us. He’s a sneaky fellow…but after this year, I can’t help but trust Him with wild abandon. His ideas are far better than mine and He knows me intimately. Not only does He know what things will challenge me and fit me to a tea, but also the things that I will absolutely love. And it turns out that all of those things are intertwined. We love the experience and places that make us feel the most alive – and we feel most alive when we are doing what we love.

I’ve chosen to stay here another year and I don’t know where I’ll go after that. But I’m not worried because He’ll show me. He’s already preparing the way.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.

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