Yesterday, I had most of my hair cut off. It is my first step toward growing and cutting my hair colour out. After colouring for the best part of fifteen years, I have decided that I’m done. For a few years, colouring was something I wanted to do. Then I kept doing it because of other people’s opinions. Then, I kept doing it because I was scared.
It’s strange really. I manage to make many other (far more important) decisions contrary to culture. Following Jesus. Marrying young. Having children sooner rather than later. Having quite a few children. Home educating quite a few children. But when it came to my hair, I couldn’t do it. I was scared. Sad but true.
Have you noticed how much praise we give when people look younger than they are? Or when a mother of a new baby doesn’t look like she has just given birth?
And have you noticed how weight loss and fitness and youth are now talked about as moral issues? Any weight loss reality tv show will have emotional confessions about how the mother has failed to be fit and healthy because she was so preoccupied looking after other people for years on end. As if she has done something wrong.
And have you noticed how people equate tiredness with failure? A tired woman must not have her priorities right. She’s out of balance. She’s let herself go. She is not self aware. She is falling short of her potential to look amazing.
I don’t want to live under that tyranny any more.
It is appropriate to look tired when you have done some hard work. It is not a moral failure to have a face and hair that is changing with the years. It is okay to have something to show for the time spent.
I was scared of the compliments drying up. Vain, yes. I know that when I grow back into my dull, mousy hair colour, the changes of age will be more obvious to other people. The gap between myself and beautiful young things will be wider. The years might speed up and I will be middle aged sooner. People will measure me differently. With five children in tow, and my silvering hair colour, people might actually think I am OLDER than I am. Ultimately, I am trying to ignore the reality that time is moving on and I will get older and die.
The Bible describes my reality.
Beauty is a good longing which drives us along. Humanity was created perfectly beautiful, reflecting the perfect beauty of its Creator. Beauty, health, fitness and youth are good.
When humanity decided to pretend to be god in God’s place, the whole perfect order started to decay. Everything in the world became enslaved to deterioration and death. Death is bad. Everything is littered with it, even my aging hair.
God himself entered into the broken, decaying world he had made. As a man, he is called Jesus. He has been part of the decay and brokenness, sitting in the litter with us. He was the only one of us who didn’t deserve to. He felt the worst of it, killed unjustly in the most brutal way, before he had time to go grey. But his death was not the unexpected, out of control, chaos of a broken world. It was his plan. It was essential.
In dying, Jesus did more than physically expire. He suffered the punishment that his own justice required. The price that had to be paid to reverse the deadly effects of human rebellion. And he died to buy back rebels, so they could be with him, forever, in the New Creation. An eternal life where no one goes grey.
Jesus died. But he didn’t decay. He undid the tyranny of death when he rose back to life. He will not die again.
Grey hair now means a shell of a body is wasting away. The shell will die. But, when Jesus comes again to judge evil and to bring in the New Creation, Jesus’ people will have their perfect, new body and hair the way it is meant to be. But we won’t be absorbed with it, because we will be so satisfied with a fullness of joy which is not threatened by anything and not going to end. We will be with Jesus and our longings will be resolved.
Reminders of decay and death are important, because they remind us that we have a very serious problem. Things are not as they are meant to be in this world. We were created for perfect, satisfying relationship with God and each other and the earth. It does us no good to ignore and deny the signs of this serious problem.
This reality means I do not have to live under the tryanny of other people’s opinions, and the fear of old age and death. While I wait for Jesus, I am praying I can get on with using this temporary, greying shell for things which matter far more than hair.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18