Sunday, June 27, 2010

A New Look

By Kristen Fenton

After years of long hair, I decided to be impulsive and get a short haircut. I began my tireless search for the perfect cut for my hair type and facial features. Finally, I found exactly what I wanted in a photo of Jessica Alba: long bangs sweeping across the forehead with gentle curls--full and falling—just past the shoulders.

I brought my picture to the salon and explained to the stylist—in animated detail—how my hair would be transformed into photo-perfect hair. After many gestures and several forms of explanation, I felt I’d said all I could. I took a look in the mirror, drew a deep breath, looked at my stylist and said: “Okay, let’s do this.” By this I meant cut my hair to the specifications I had described. Yet, by this she interpreted cutting several more inches than my plan.

When she finished, I reached back to run my fingers through my hair and was shocked to realize that this process now took a fraction of the time that it used to. My picture of Jessica Alba? Not what was facing me in the mirror.

Later (while internally cursing the stylist who had disregarded my instructions), it struck me that I’ve felt a similar kind of anger toward God lately. I’m in one of those “growth opportunity” seasons of life where I’m living a reality that I never would have planned--a transition period that has lasted far longer than my husband and I would have ever imagined; jobs, health, housing, medical insurance—all up in the air. There are times when I tell God, “This is not the life that I wanted” or “We were obedient to your calling; why is this happening? When are you going to provide?”

I realize that I treat God like I treat my hairstylist. I give God my picture and “dream life specifications” and expect Him to follow through like some sort of genie. Somehow I believe that this picture is what is best for me. In the midst of the waiting, the uncertainty, the “not yet” season of my life, I’m learning that I have a hard time trusting God. But I am seeking to be honest with him and let him into my anger, sadness, grief, and confusion. I’m practicing this honesty because I have a tendency to put on a happy face, search for the silver lining, and pretend that I am content even though my heart feels far from it. I grew up thinking that God liked me better if I was a good girl that followed all the rules. I’m realizing that he prefers that I bring my whole, real, broken self to him instead of my self-polished facade. I’m in process and thankful that God is making his presence and grace known to me in this season.

I’m not loving this haircut. I wouldn’t do it again. But, fortunately I’m starting to (literally and figuratively) grow into this new look.


  1. Thank you for your honesty. I too have been in a season of transition with nothing really settling into place, including myself. I find myself consistantly searching, seeking, and yearning for that old feeling of "feeling close to God" that just seems to evade me like I'm chasing the wind. Although I often feel like giving up, I know, that I know, that I know, God is who He says He is and is ever present.

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  3. This is great, thanks for putting it all in perspective. Yes, I realize that I am all too apt to do this very thing. Right now I'm desperately searching for what "haircut" is good for me, but I imagine that even if I make an error, God will help me "grow into" that as well!

  4. "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)

    How easy it is to chart the course for one's journey. Many times I have wedged and damaged a good pair of shoes trying to keep a closing ministry door propped open. If I must keep in step with the spirit, (Galatians 5:25) I must know the spirit. Although easier said than done, my only responsibility for my plan of action is to know God's course and how to pack for the journey. Obedience is key, not fun, but key.

    For me, releasing self-sufficiency and faux strands of composure at times are more of a battle than crossing enemy territory. A story would not be adventure worthy without a few battle scars of a flat iron or a disheveled pony tail of a good hard day's work.

    Thank you Kristen for being authentic, bad hair an all. A composed Christian style just does not withstand a gust of wind, the weight of humidity or the relentless downpour of a storm. No matter the mask of the product or the color painted, the integrity eventually shows. Curls draw up, grey peaks through, teased volume relaxes. Thank you for your mirrored reflection and allowing those tangled with our ceramic round brushes and wrestling our ionic blow dryers to put the equipment down long enough to say, "Lord what do you have prepared for me? How should I adorn my armor for your work today?" Thank you again for reminding me to release my arms of manipulation from over head. My shoulders were tired.

    "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

    "Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life." (Proverbs 16:31, although I am not ready for the world to see my righteousness yet. If allowed to show forth it would be a bit blinding. So for now I wear a warm cooper and honey brown. I am a work in process. Just pray.)

  5. There is definitely a mystery to knowing what you think God has for you, and being right about that, and what you have shared caused me to carefully examine my own heart, and open it for God to search my heart, I want to do better in this area, too. It does require an honesty with ourselves that feels uncomfortable in the beginning, but I think it is all part of our journey with the Lord. In His love, mercy, and grace, He allows us a huge learning curve and a lot of growing room.

    and, I had one of those haircuts years ago too, when the stylist did what she thought needed done, not what I wanted. Left me in tears and the best thing my dearest friend could say about the new too short hair cut was that it was perky, and I didn't get the sense that a compliment was in those words.

  6. This is so apt to my own life right now. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. :)