BE FOREWARNED! If you came to our blog today looking for something spiritually edifying or theologically profound please RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. Today, I’m just having some fun. . .and hope you will too!
I’m a curly headed girl. It’s a fact.
Leave it be – straight after a wash in the shower – and it’ll puff into a life-size afro reminiscent of Fat Albert’s.
Funny how my hair has become one of my most distinguishing and recognizable characteristics. Sometimes people write or email our ministry – not to ask some deeply theologically probing question – but to dig into the annals of my mind . . . about hair.
Yup. You heard me right.
Makes me question my effectiveness in ministry. I mean, how would you feel if you’d spent weeks prayerfully planning a message that you hope will bring healing and encouragement to the hearts and minds of your audience only to have a teary-eyed woman walk up to you at the end, dramatically dab her cheeks with tissue and say: I’m so moved. . . by your hair. How’d you make it do that anyhow?
(For all of you that have ever written or talked to me personally about hair, relax. I’m joking. I don’t mind at all. I like conversation – any kind will do.)
And honestly, it’s understandable that women would want to talk hair – even after I’ve spilled my guts teaching God’s word. Sometimes for us women, concentrating on how to bring our thoughts into captivity to Christ, walk in spiritual victory, hear the voice of God or prepare for spiritual warfare is so much more difficult when our hair doesn’t look right – or at least fairly decent. (Cause let’s be honest; God may look at the heart but other women are looking at our hair.) Having a “good hair day” makes us feel strangely . . . better. Our day can be going terribly wrong but if we happen to flip down our car visors and catch sight of a head full of glossy, perfectly coiled curls that all decided to cooperate and go in the right direction, it makes us smile – even though we lost our dog, just got fired from our job and got stood up on a blind date. Good hair is analogous to being happy, clearheaded and able to get on with the rest of our lives.
(I’m exaggerating. . . but only a little.)
I digress. . .
So, I’ve been a curly headed girl for as long as I can remember. Even after I put a permanent straightener in it at age thirteen, childhood photos still gave away my roots (pun intended). I was one of those little black girls whose mother put my hair into two, sometimes four, sometimes eight or sixteen plaits (can’t believe she did that to me) all over my head fastened by colorful little thinga -ma-jigs that had hard plastic knobs that looked like gumballs attached to the ends. (Those things should come with a warning sticker: Will smack young children in their eyes if they turn their head too quickly – especially if they have sixteen plaits. I’m just sayin.) Those braids were not only my trademark but the consistent feature you’d find on the head of most every girl where I grew up.
We had tightly, curled hair that would break a comb that didn’t have enough girth to it in one second flat. And this – this – is what you did with it: put it in plaits sorted by perfectly angled parts that looked like a road-map to Mars.
We hated it.
I think I can speak in sweeping generalizations when I use the word “we” (my slight and hesitant apologies to anyone who actually enjoyed this atrocity). By in large, we wanted our hair to be set free from captivity – like a Siberian Tiger who broke out of his cage at the San Francisco zoo several years back and scared the dickens out of the whole city. Yup, we wanted our hair to be that kind of loose – which might have been just as scary as the tiger except that we had visions of it cascading down our backs and being . . .straight. So, we straightened it . . .permanently . . . the very second we got old enough and our mothers said we could.
(Although I saw a girl not much older than three in a salon chair recently who, under the watchful eye of her mother, was getting her very first permanent straightener. THREE. I know, right?)
I stress permanently purposefully because we had temporary straightening options that we indulged in as often as we could. And we have the scars to prove it. Those hot combs smoked up our kitchens and sometimes seared the tip of our ears when the smoke got too close to actual skin. But it was worth it. . .cause our hair was straight!
. . until it rained.
. . .or it was humid.
. . .or we sweated.
. . or we swam.
. . .or we took a shower without our extra-large shower cap securely in place (Darn those few strands that always escaped out the back.)
So, when our mommas pressed our hair. . .we checked the weather report, refused to sweat, wouldn’t dare swim (even with a swim cap cause they weren’t ever cute enough) and we took a shower with extra care, making sure that the humidity had completely cleared out of the bathroom before we dared remove the plastic from our heads – which never seemed to happen soon enough. So, we’d start sweating because we were too hot from the plastic caps.
Temporary straightening was SOOO high maintenance. Geesh. But we did it. . for a while. Then, we were too tired – and too broke – to keep it up during college so we walked down the aisle and made a covenant with a creamy, white solution that made all our dreams come true.
At least during the honeymoon phase.
Then some of us found out we’d been hoodwinked, bamboozled, conned, misled, deceived (and any other synonyms you can think of right now. I’ve run out). We woke up one morning, looked in the mirror at our beloved and realized it’d fooled us. Our curls had been tamed yes, but, in some cases, it took our hair out– and I don’t mean “out on a date”. I mean it literally took whole globs of hair straight out of our scalps by the root.
Damaged it beyond recognition.
Which is why after more than a decade of permanently straightened hair, I let it grow back to its naturally curly beginnings. I had qualms about it. Visions and nightmares of those bubble-gum, plastic barette thingies hitting me in the face again. But I did it anyway in search of my hair’s original health.
I assumed that I’d hate the texture as much as I did when I was a little girl. But as my hair grew I was so surprised to find that now, as an adult, I enjoyed and loved every single curl. They became my own. It’s been 12 years of heavenly matrimony between me and my natural hair and our relationship is working out nicely.
Every now and then, just for fun, I straighten it – temporarily – with a flat-iron or pressing comb (and I’ve learned how to hold the tips of my ears down to avoid any first-degree burns. It’s much nicer that way). Don’t do it often but it’s fun to shake things up a bit.
Had it done this week in fact. And I’ve enjoyed it.
But . . . .Wait For It. . . I miss my curls.
Can you believe it? I can’t.
Never thought I’d say that. . .but it’s so true. I will enjoy some time wearing my straight new-do but I’m already excited about going back to my huge, curly afro that my friend Shawna says makes me look like a lion about to attack.
(She normally sits a few rows behind me at church and sometimes texts me messages DURING THE SERMON like: I wish I could see the pastor but I can’t because you’re hair is in the way. ROAR!)
(I’d be offended . . if it weren’t so stinkin’ funny – especially with the pastor preaching and all. So, I laugh in a nice “don’t-disturb-your-neighbor-cause-we’re-in-church kind of way and then I don’t text her back . . .because good Christians don’t text in church.)
(But sometimes I do tweet in church, or instagram. . .or. . .well, never mind.)
Looking forward to having my curls back in a few days because. . they are mine. I’m sure the first good rain is going to take care of that. Or I’ll just stand in the bathroom while one of my sons is taking their shower. (They’ll just love that.)
So glad that God has made me ok. . . with me.. . just the way I am.
Head full of curls and all.
Have a good Friday my friend!