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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stylists, AKA, Hair Part 2

I used to complain to my sister, a born hairdresser (minus the certificate from Jean Madeline), that her touch was somewhat less than gentle. I whined as she did her magic that she was pulling my hair and catching my ear with the comb. She retorted that I was a lightweight who couldn't handle the pressure. Little did I know, she had me in boot camp, preparing me for my current stylist, Sophie.

I have a love-hate relationship with Sophie.

Everyone says she does a great job. Even I, with my clumsy, unskilled hands, can't seem to mess up her handiwork. She puts finesse into the old style, and verve into the new one we're working on. She takes her time, checking sides for evenness, snipping tiny wisps that escaped her first run-through. She coifs her masterpiece at the end, crafting flyaway strands into a finished product that Audrey Hepburn in her heyday would have envied. She offers suggestions when asked, but doesn't try to sell me on expensive products to fatten her take home. I absolutely adore my Sophie.

But, oh, the process.

This excellence comes at a price. While the monetary cost is manageable, the experiential bill is excruciating. Sophie is no trifler when it comes to her profession. Her fingers, while nimble, are not gentle. From the time she sits me down in the shampoo chair to the moment we settle up, my head is on high alert. Gone are the days of scalp massaging I used to look forward to after a hard day at work. Sophie, though friendly and chatty, is all business when it comes to getting the job done. My face, ears and neck all get a bath as she suds up my locks. The water more often than not is a tad hot for my delicate sensibilities. The only break I get is when she roughs me up with a towel as we proceed to the electric - er, styling - chair.

Once seated, I brace myself for round two. This is never painless, as the natural contours of my head often get in the way of Sophie's fast-working comb. She pins back unwanted hair with a ferocity that would send Chuck Norris screaming for his mother. Her scissors work mercifully quickly, but not without torturous pulling of tresses that have a mind of their own. When we get to the blow-drying part, I wince inwardly, steeling myself for the anguish I will have to endure as her porcupine needled brush forces my unwilling mane into the shape she envisions for it. When all is said and done, I have a beautiful new look that took years off my life and sent countless follicles running for cover.

After my latest go-round with Sophie, I noticed some interesting parallels to my walk with God. For one thing, I often dread doing what I have to do to earn the rewards that are promised me. I delay keeping appointments with my Savior because they require an expenditure of resources I want to hold on to. Obedience frequently necessitates output of time, energy and emotion, not to mention currency. I get mixed up, thinking these are mine to invest or withhold. I lose sight of one of my favorite assurances, Luke 6:38:

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Also, in a very real way, following Christ involves pain, and lots of it. While salvation is free, Christ-likeness doesn't come cheap (look what it cost Him). The no pain, no gain adage really is true. Blessedly, I haven't been asked to undergo trials like Corrie ten Boom and her family, but I know what marital breakup, loss of loved ones, and single parenting are all about. I couldn't begin to compare my life in the land of the free and the home of the brave with those of Christians whose daily existence is fraught with peril and persecution, but I do understand the upset of prodigal children and workplace distress. Progress in the Christian life, in my experience, is usually predicated on growing pains; there's just no getting around that.

Why, readers may rightfully ask, don't I rebel against Sophie's merciless ministrations? Why not call her on her lack of sensitivity to my poor head's plight? Am I not a paying customer, entitled to pampering and spa treatment? Unequivocally, no! While TLC may be called for in nursery schools and Grandma's house, to my mind it has no place in hair salons. One does not tamper with genius. Allowances must be made for the discomfort of creation (remember childbirth?), with the expectation that the endurance of temporary suffering will produce something of lasting worth. If momentary grief is what it takes for Sophie to enhance my appearance, who am I to interfere? If inconvenience creates greater beauty in my temporal body, how much more can Christ do this in my spirit?

  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."(James 1:2-4)

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Hair