my journey with truth

Archive for the ‘reconciling’ Category

**NOTE: This post was started in December of 2010.  It used to begin like this: I got my hair cut in October.  Why am I writing about it now?  Because I’m finally able to embrace it without crying, basically.  Yes, yes.  I cried myself to sleep three nights in a row after the incident.  Three nights.  In a row.  Me, in bed, crying quiet tears about my hair.  My hair.  Not the people of the world suffering – my hair.  But see, hair is like a secret power.  Hair is a stronghold.  Hair is a treasure.  It’s like the plumage of the human body.  And like Samson, my October haircut sapped my strength.

Now, it continues, a year and a half after the haircut incident… but then, that’s partly what this post is all about:  I asked around about a new place to get my hair cut because the last place I went in Durham I had the most boring haircut ever, and my hair had finally grown out from my first above-the-shoulders cut since 7th grade two summers before in Corpus Christi.  That looked cute:

but the inbetween phase was killing me.  And I’d finally grown out some length that needed to be shaped.  Anyway, I asked around about where to go, and a place in Chapel Hill called Moshi Moshi was recommended by a couple people.

So, I went.  And this is nothing against that place, I’m not reviewing it, per se.  But I got the world’s worst haircut.  Seriously.  I guess it was super “in” at the time, especially with hipsters and people who like to trash their hair to make a statement, or a sort of homage to many decades past – part 80s rock, part 70s lady-mullet, part 90s Rachel Green/Jennifer Aniston.  But mostly it was awful.  It was like a sort of nice haircut down to just above my shoulders and then this long single layer of hair that stuck out about 4 inches beyond the rest of the hair.  But there were layers (uneven, chunky ones) cut above my ears, for crying out loud.  Which might be okay if my hair is cut above my shoulders overall, but there was still length.  Awkward length.  And she just. kept. cutting.  (I will say this, though: I had some sexy, sexy bangs going on).  I don’t think I’ve ever had a haircut take so long.  I kept thinking “I don’t have this much hair to cut, lady… WHAT THE DEUCE ARE YOU DOING?”

But of course, I didn’t say a word.  When she asked what I thought, I tried to keep from imploding on the spot, grabbed my coat, and wrote her an obscenely large check in part because I just wanted to get out of there and didn’t want to think about what the tip actually should’ve been.  I’ve always had some combination of believing the hair person knows what they’re doing better than I do, a fear of confrontation and disturbing the peace of just swallowing it down and moving on, and the fact that after it’s done… it’s done and you’re supposed to pay that person for their services (and I know that I’m saying I was dissatisfied but see the previous parts of the combination that lead to me not ever saying anything to the hair person).

It was awful, though.  I remember calling Charlotte and heading to school after bobby-pinning the crap out of it, and she and Amy and Morgan are all trying to be helpful and positive and then I take down the bobby pins and everyone’s face is revealing the tension with which they are trying to maintain a sort of positive face and then Charlotte finally says “Yeah, I’d invest in bobby pins for the near future.”

Fast forward 4 months and I’m finally ready to let someone else try to touch up and correct the haircut (I have a thing about not really liking my hair short if that’s not already clear, so I didn’t feel like I could go to anyone to get the world’s worst haircut fixed because it would just mean chopping off most of my hair.  It stems in part from the fact that my mom made me keep this one chili-bowl haircut for all of childhood [see pic]

which in retrospect looks kind of sweet, but I was always jealous of Rachel’s long, luscious locks).  I have never given so much instruction before a haircut in my life.  I told the whole story, gesturing to my still-ugly hair, which by the way had always laid straight before and had picked up this weird habit of just always looking unbrushed no matter what I did.  The following 40 minutes was the most vindicating moment of my life aside from 8th grade when I was accused of cheating on a math test and then got a 100 on the replacement test they made me take.  She kept holding up pieces of hair and saying “See these?  They should be the same length.”  And then she said after a bit “…did… she… THIN your hair?” and I said “well she just kept going with that razor blade” and she freaked out and said “WHY would she use a razor on your hair??  You have the completely wrong texture of hair for that.  You should never use a razor to layer fine hair.”

So.  A year and a half later, I’m finally able to talk about it.  I mean, mostly I’m embarrassed now that I cried so much over my hair.  But the thing is, I’ve learned this isn’t an uncommon thing.  A woman in a class I go to on Sundays said when she heard the passage in Matthew about reconciling yourself to your brother or sister before laying your offering at the altar, she thought of how it took her TWO YEARS to go back to her hairdresser and talk to her about how she’d cut her hair too short.  And it’s not just women.  My friends Brian and Maggie visited me last Sunday and he told a story about trimming his beard really close (it was still there, just really short) and when Maggie got home, he kept asking “Do I look like a woman?” and staring off into nothingness about it.

What is it about our hair?

I think for myself, I can say that because I have long-held self-esteem issues about my appearance, there has always been my hair.  It’s blonde, naturally, which is supposedly a unicorn of sorts (though it’s getting dirtier and I kind of want to dye it all the way dark brown but that’s a whole other post about how I don’t know if I could basically give up being a blonde since hair never really goes quite back to what it was before once you mess with it chemically).  It lays straight without much effort (or used to).  It can be manipulated into all sorts of styles.  Yeah, my hair has been a physical refuge for me.  A stronghold.  It was my pretty part when all I could think about the rest of my body was “ugh.”

So, seriously strange, just weeks before my haircut incident, Willow Smith released “Whip My Hair,” weeks shy, herself, from being 10 years old.  Now, while she didn’t write the song, I have to give credit to the little sassy sasserson for her sense of self and willingness to do what she wants without really caring about convention.  The song suits her.  And she has some mad dance skillz in the video besides the actual hair whipping part.

I have to say I appreciate the gist of things lyrically, despite the hook being, as some describe, “grating” and “a nightmare of a brain drill.”  She knows that there’s power in the hair, too.  But she knows something more:

Don’t let haters keep me off my grind
Keep my head up and I know I’ll be fine
Keep fighting until I get there
Am down and I feel like giving up

I whip my hair back and forth…

All my ladies, if you feel me
Do it, do it, whip your hair
Don’t matter if it’s long, short
Do it, do it, whip your hair

A freaking 9-year-old knew better how to be herself and claim herself while I was crying in my bed 3 nights in a row.  She’s saying I can whip my hair back and forth no matter what it looks like, and I think that basically the whipping is a metaphor.  A year and a half later, I still can’t really tell you what that means fully.  But this is the truth I’ve come to understand via grieving my hair and listening to the wisdom of Willow Smith: I’m awesome no matter what my hair looks like.  I’m awesome even though I’m overweight.  I’m awesome even though I’m a pastor and that apparently makes a lot of people uncomfortable (which in turn, and I don’t think people realize this, makes me uncomfortable like I’m the one actually being judged for being assumed to be a judgy person myself).  I’m awesome even though I am not very good at sports.  I’m awesome even though I live alone with my cat.  I’m awesome.  I’m awesome no matter what my hair looks like.

Sidenote: I have these AMAZING new, big, argon oil hot rollers that make my hair look FANTASTIC.  But I’d be awesome without them too.

So one of my friends is really pushing me on why I’m writing this blog, why it’s named what it is, and why I want to share this stuff.  I guess there’s a little ‘what’ in the mix, too – what is it really about?

In a certain sense, I’m not sure.  I feel a strange compulsion after having had experiences where the world didn’t implode and my life didn’t explode upon saying what I really think, admitting to truth, sharing openly instead of half-heartedly or with fear of judgment.  But then another insight into ‘why’ came tonight when I was reading for my preaching class.

Professor Lischer’s book, The End of Words, finishes up with something to say about reconciliation.  It draws on Karl Barth’s statement that we preach “one mighty truth of the reconciliation” which, naturally, has 3 phases (preachers are really drawn to 3 illustrations, points, phases, etc.  I know my 2-4 grade teachers always emphasized 3 body paragraphs/points for TAAS Test essays).  The first truth of the Gospel, the good news which we should preach, is that through Christ the world is reconciled to God.  The second is that through Christ we become reconciled to one another, brother and brother, sister and brother, enemies and frienemies (my paraphrase).  And the third phase of reconciliation is that through Christ we become reconciled to ourselves. “We were not created to be torn by doubt, guilt, and personal conflict,” believe it or not.  To be fully human “is what God intended for us all along” and “to embrace one’s humanity is not mere humanism but good theology,” (p. 136).

In other words, we’re humans, not God – we’re a little less than perfect sometimes.  We think things we probably shouldn’t think, we say things we probably shouldn’t say, we do things we probably shouldn’t do sometimes.  But more fundamentally, we worry about being someone we can never be sometimes.  We betray ourselves, not just others.  We think we need to be something other than human.  Maybe we actually long for that.  And sometimes reconciling ourselves to our humanity, even forgiving ourselves is one of the hardest things to do.  Alongside just being ourselves.

So I’m trying to be myself in this blog, through this blog.  I am trying to encourage more truth-telling in the world.  Professor Lischer also notes that “A young Reinhold Niebuhr confessed to his diary how hard it is to tell unpleasant truths to people you have come to love.”  Amen and amen.  But also “reconciliation cannot occur apart from truth-telling,” (145).  I’m trying to reconcile myself with the truth of who I am, humanly and very openly.  And I’m a divinity student, for crying out loud – if this is ‘good theology’ then I guess I should take a crack at it.



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  • myjourneywithtruth: i had it in my office at my internship in Corpus Christi two summers ago. ellen davis is brilliant and glows with an aura of holy.
  • amy h: i love this quote. i think i may need it hanging on my wall where i'll see it daily. perhaps in front of the toilet? by the door? bedside table? i'll
  • chaz: That post made me really sad too. Mostly because I want to take young Lizzie by the shoulders and shake her (gently?) into sublime realization that sh

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