Friday, July 20, 2007

There is a familiar face staring back at me in the mirror. The fuzzy, tight white curls are gone and I have a new short "do." Such a sight prompted me to share what I'll call "my hair chronicles."

I came into the world with nary a hair on my head. Not that I remember, but I've seen pictures of a chubby bald baby with big dark eyes staring at the camera. When it finally did come, it was wavy and my mother tortured me by rolling it in finger curls and around kid curlers. Until I was eight years old I had long curls and wore a bow in the top of my head. It wasn't my idea of cute. Once, when my mother was away for a few days, my daddy took me and had all that hair cut into the stylish "bob of the day." Boy was my mother mad. I loved it.

Growing up I had good, strong dark hair, sometimes long and sometimes short. A very definite gray patch took root during my college days and the gray continued to grow until I had salt and pepper hair in my early thirties. I kept it short, my only request to the stylist being, cut it so it will be easy care. Then in my early forties I underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer. My greatest concern during treatment was if the doctor thought I'd lose all my hair. I look back and shutter at my vanity.

At this point I must tell you an amazing "hair story." The chemo did not make my hair immediately come out, but a gradual thinning began. My hair dresser was aware of my treatments and knew my hair very well so he would cut it to disguise where it was thinning. It had begun to come out by hands full when I was in the shower so I asked a friend to go with me to buy a wig just in case. She was really busy that week and we made a date to go the next week. That was in May. I had begun treatments on February 1 and was scheduled through September. One morning during the week I waited for my friend I was in the shower seeing hair go down the drain and the Lord reminded me of the Philippians verses that tell us to pray, giving thanks in all things and of the gospel verses that tell us that God cares so much about us that He even know how many hairs we have on our heads. Right then and there I asked God to do something about my hair loss. I told Him that I knew He knew how many more I could stand to lose and I'd like not to lose any more. After I prayed I remember thinking how presumptious I was to be so bold. God had better things to do than to answer such a prayer prompted by my vanity. What happened is what makes this an amazing hair story. No more hair came out and when I went for my next hair cut the hair dresser told me that not only was it not coming out, but that I had new growth all in my scalp. Since that day I have never doubted God's care about the small insignificant things in my life.

In 2002 with my second experience with chemotherapy, my hair story was much different. I lost all hair, even my eyelashes. I had two wigs ready and waiting for baldness. One was the color of my hair; the other was sort of red and I had a wonderful time wearing it and watching people's reactions. A friend knit me caps to wear at night to keep my head warm and during the day when I went out without a wig, I wore a baseball cap--something I can't do when I have hair because it's too thick. When my hair grew back it was like a Brillo pad: tight, coarse curls. The texture was like a permanent gone wrong when the solution is left on too long. It took a year for it to get back to normal.

When chemo began a third time in 2006, hair began coming out almost as soon as I left the infusion center so we got the scissors, cut it and the next day I had someone shave my head. I spent a lot of time in the hospital last fall and many people saw me with no wig, no baseball cap, no nothing. I was so glad to live another day and see people that I didn't care about the lack of hair. This time it came in curly again, but not as thick on top and a completely different texture. I have had no idea what to do with it. A lady from our church came yesterday and cut it for me. My instructions were to get rid of the curls and it had to be pretty short for that to happen.

You may be wondering my point in these "hair chronicles." Do you remember the advice to always put your best foot forward so you can make a good impression? For me, my best foot was my hair. I was taught to "look good" meant everything. I bought it, but I hated it. My "hair chronicles" have taught me first of all of God's amazing care. They have also taught me that it's what's inside that counts, that the impression I make comes from who I am and in my case who I am as a child of God. I don't need hair. The truth is you can get dressed a whole quicker if you only have to slap a wig on your head.

Hair today, gone tomorrow seems to fit me. I'm glad to look like me again, but I suspect my image is not as much about hair as I once thought.

Pastor Margaret


marty said...

*ahem* You know you let your mother do that to my hair too. It was torture.

Bubblewench said...

Very insightful. Thank you for giving me good things to think about today.