My grandmother took me to the beauty shop to have my hair permed for the first time when I was in third grade. I needed a booster seat to sit in the chair.
It’s such a distinctive smell, the scent of perming hair, but they covered over it (or tried to) with coconut-scented solutions and apple-scented conditioners, and this is what brings back the memories.
One whiff of coconut or apple beauty products even now and I’m still thinking of curlers, cotton wraps over the forehead and behind the ears, a plastic bag holding it all in and tied in a knot to the side, and time with my head stuck in a huge bubble of a dryer with the roar of hot air drowning out the gossip from the stylists and their customers.
Every six months to a year through college and even a little into my married life I went back and watched the experts roll my hair into tight curls.
Then I stepped into a salon in New Jersey in my 20’s and told them I wanted my hair permed, needed my hair permed in fact because I couldn’t take the boring straightness of my boring hair with its boring style one more minute!
The lady sat me down in the chair, snipped a little with her scissors here and there and staged an intervention, refusing to perm my hair. She said I’d look better if I just learned to blow dry my straight tresses. Then, she pointed to a super model photo on the wall and promised that I could look like her if I could just get over my aversion to blow drying my hair.
I left the shop and cried in my car.
My hair had always been curled; it’s what I knew, how I thought I looked best. I couldn’t handle all that hair without bounce and body, weighing down on my face, getting in my way, and just ending up in a ponytail by noon.
And I ….hate…blow….drying….my…..hair.
I hate everything about it. My hair is porous and retains water like a pregnant woman. It’s long and heavy. It takes what seems like a million years to really dry it.
I could end world hunger and find homes for all the world’s orphans if I had all that time.
Really, I’ve got better things to do than stand there with a noisy machine pointed at my head like a wind simulator.
Beauty takes effort, though. Hours spent in a salon with chemicals and curlers for a perm, an eternity in front of my mirror holding a blow dryer, either way it’s an investment. It’s an effort.
For some, it’s manicures, for others it’s eyebrow waxing or plucking, tanning beds, vitamins, exercise sessions, hair coloring and wrinkle creams.
I’m a simple girl, really. Most of that is far beyond me and most days I’m a rebel and ditch the hair dryer in favor of “the wet look.”
That’s a real style, right?
But all those years of perming my hair taught me this: If external beauty takes the effort, the intentionality, the investment of time and resources, then surely internal beauty should require as much.
And I should be willing to pay a costly price and willingly sacrifice for faith like that, the kind that roots itself deep in my soul and blossoms out so full it pushes out all the ugly, the doubt, the worry, the anxiety, the selfishness, the bad attitudes, and the sin.
Faith–that’s a gift from God. It’s not something we work for or earn.
But I can choose to look to God for faith or reject His gift.
In her book, The Faith Dare: 30 Days to Live Your Life to the Fullest, Debbie Alsdorf talks about establishing the groove of faith spoken of in Psalm 84:
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs…
They go from strength to strength
till each appears before God (vv. 5-7)
These pilgrims set their hearts on a God-destination. They purposed to journey to Him, transforming valleys into springs of refreshing life and fulfillment and joy along the way until they finally appeared before God–strengthened from the traveling, not fatigued and worn frail from the task.
Debbie Alsdorf writes:
I have to set my heart on the pilgrimage, which is an extended journey with a purpose…And I have to set my heart and mind on faith in God for the journey, the life he purposed for me alone (p. 12).
Here we begin, making this decision: No more distractions, turning aside for easier paths, growing disheartened and taking refuge in tents along the road, following short-cuts that lead us astray, pursuing other destinations, and allowing others to talk us out of it.
We set our heart and mind on faith in God and we get going.
During the month of August, I’ll be joining with several hundred women in a study of Debbie Alsdorf’s book, The Faith Dare: 30 Days to Live Your Life to the Fullest through the Women’s Bible Cafe. This week, we’re just making introductions and getting started, so there’s still time to grab a book (or download it to your Kindle or nook) and join in!
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King