I saw a fabulous and rather brave Latino lady in Target the other day. There I was, in way less than fabulous yoga pants and a long shirt with my slightly disheveled, short hair crammed under a baseball cap. (I did have earrings on though…you’ll rarely find me without them. I don’t know why but they make me feel more put together than I really am.) Anyway, I had just gotten my basket and was about to set out on my mission when she came gliding through the doors. She was dressed to a T, perfect makeup and jewelry, and her hair was shiny, long, and flowing. This is the point where you look at yourself thinking, “good heavens”, and pull your baseball cap down a little closer around your face and hope you don’t run into anyone you know. She was that fabulous. The reason I say she was also brave is because the top half of her shiny long hair was her natural dark brown and the other half was blonde. She was obviously letting the blonde color job grow out but refused to cut her hair to speed the process. She was unapologetic about it, too. I’m sure many people saw her and thought she needed to do something about her hair. That wasn’t my take on it, though. I thought it was bold and gutsy. If that had been me, my hair would have been twisted up in a bun, the bun under a cap, and my clothes may have been chosen to match the cap.
I had a similar hair revelation with one of the 15 year olds this morning about his hair. (Yes, I have two 15 year olds now. Prayers always appreciated.) He likes the soccer cuts that are shorter on the sides and back and longer on the top. They are pretty fun looks and hair is one of the areas I rarely choose to engage in battle with my kids. With two 15 year olds, there are plenty of other hostile territories I must conquer. Anyway….lately he could care less about the hair and just leaves it all disheveled. So, I told him if he wasn’t going to take the time to fix it, he was going to have to get it cut off. For someone who has been so particular about his haircuts, he laughed it off and wasn’t worried at all about how his hair looked to others anymore. Granted, his hair didn’t look fabulous like the unapologetic Latino lady but, part of me was happy to see a bit of an unconcerned, unapologetic attitude regarding his appearance. Now, I’d rather he not leave the house looking like he just rolled out of bed but, there definitely was a bright side to the morning dilemma over the hair.
That got me to thinking. Dangerous, I know.
Maybe I should have bragged on him a little more for not being obsessed with his hair (for once), and for being unapologetic about being himself. Really, that’s what I want for all of my kids….to be comfortable enough in their own skin to strut through school, or Target, on days they aren’t feeling or looking 100% and not worry about what others may be thinking of them. Of all the skills they can acquire or I can help them achieve, nothing will serve them better in this life than being comfortable being who they were created to be, inside and out…..and unapologetic for it.
The thing is, as a Christian mama who desperately wants her children to follow Christ closely, I realize they are inevitably going to experience a certain level of ridicule and likely even persecution. Our world that is so flawed and cruel anyway to those who are “different”, is especially and increasingly hostile to those who identify with Christ. So, if I want them to live deep, rich lives and fulfill their purpose this side of eternity, they have to be able to see themselves beyond the surface and recognize the depth in others beyond two-toned hair, perfect hair, or no hair. I want them to walk just as boldly and unapologetically as the fabulous Latino lady with the two toned hair. So, even though it pained me that he was going to school looking like he’d just rolled out of bed, I guess on some level, I was glad he was cool with it. (He’s still going to have to cut it, though.)
I think I can speak for most Christian mamas when I say that we don’t want them to follow Christ just so they’ll have the easiest life possible, be “good little boys and girls”, make good decisions, stay off drugs, and be wildly successful, well adjusted adults. Much of the time, that can be achieved by being raised with consistent, healthy boundaries. Plus, it’s a common misconception that Christians don’t make bad decisions or sin and it’s also a common misconception that the Christian life is easier because, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” So inaccurate. He FREQUENTLY gives us more than we can handle. Otherwise, we tend to walk around like we don’t need Him. I’ll also dispel that sin myth right now and say that whether you’re 15, 38, or 88, you’re not going to get it right 100% of the time. Sometimes we’re doing well to successfully navigate 10% of our day. The only thing we have going for us is that we live under the guidance and conviction of the Holy Spirit. (He just won’t leave us alone!)
So, no... if I want them to live the safest, most pain free lives possible, being Christian is not necessarily the way to go. After all, Jesus himself warns us in Matthew 10:16-17 that He sends us out as sheep among wolves and in John 15:18-19 that if the world hates us, know that it hated Him first…..and if we want the world to love us, we have to conform to their standards. Once a mama has the mental image of sheep among wolves, raising “good boys and girls” just doesn’t seem to be enough pay off to warrant the risk. So, if the safe, easy life was my ultimate goal for them, I’d simply teach them the importance of hard work, success, being nice, and how best to fit in.
We aren’t MADE to fit in with the rest of the world, though. For teenagers in America, it can be a constant and brutal back and forth battle. Not that it magically goes away for adults. We’ve just hopefully done more living and learning and God has given us more of His perspective on those things. So, the question I have to ask myself is, “In what ways, both obvious and subtle, have I been making sure they simply fit in or have it easy?” and “Do those things work against my ultimate goal for them to be comfortable in their own skin as they embrace Christ and His path for their lives?”
I know, I know, it’s a lot to glean from hair dilemmas. I’m sorry. These are just the inner workings of an introverted mind. I shouldn’t sound so apologetic, I guess….it is how God made me. We are all wired differently, that’s for sure. Even my 15 year old identical twins. That’s a whole other blog post I’ve been pondering on, though. Maybe next week. After all, amongst all the other things we already have going on this week…..now I have to squeeze in haircuts!!:)