For much of my life, I avoided all forms of spontaneity. It was just too dangerous. Eventually I came to realize that we all need fun and joy in our lives. So I’ve tried to loosen up. Just two months ago, I impulsively said to my hair stylist, “What about some pink and purple highlights in my hair?”
“Oh, something subtle?” she said.
I agreed and she began to work her magic. Two hours later, I had delicate pink and purple strands in my otherwise natural looking blond hair. When I got home, my collegiate son asked if I was trying to be “hipster.” (I don’t really know what hipster is. If pink and purple highlights make me hipster, then I guess I am. Sorry, William.) When my husband came home, he actually noticed my hair. (Sometimes he doesn’t. Sorry, honey.) Finally, I texted a photo of my hair to my daughters. They loved it. (Thank goodness for girls.)
The next day when I went to work, people noticed my slight hairstyle change. Their responses ranged from “Wow, that is so cool!” (mostly from the younger crowd) to “Wow, what made you do that?” (mostly from the baby boomers). Once in a while, a patient would admire my hair. What I began to notice was that the patients who liked my hair were people who had tats and piercings. Under my normal all blonde appearance, these people would be way outside of my comfort zone. But now, it seemed, we had something in common. My hair color had become a bridge.
A few weeks went by. My hair faded back to blond and the roots turned ashen. I went back to the salon where I asked for more pink and purple. Two hours later, my hair had fresh purple and pink strands but this time it was vibrant. I guess I forgot to mention the word subtle to my stylist. But I wasn’t worried. Hair is just hair, after all. It grows out and in my case, fades rather quickly.
Then I went to work. Now the responses ranged from “Wow, that is so cool!” to “Wow, what made you do that?” to “I need to talk to you in my office.” My supervisor had been told by her supervisor to talk to be me about my hair. Apparently, having artificially colored purple strands in one’s hair is against the policy. (Even though artificial hair, such as wigs and extensions, is acceptable.)
That weekend as I reflected on the end of my pink and purple habit, I was sad to see the end of my fun and spontaneity. Even more, however, I was unhappy to see my bridge disappear. I liked how my hair color opened doors to conversations and relationships that I wouldn’t ordinarily have.
This reminded me of what the apostle Paul said,
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law…I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor 9:19-21 emphasis added)
The next week, I had a 70ish patient who came in with her two daughters. They all raved about my hair and told me purple was the color for women's cancer. Later, after our time together, my supervisor gave me two comment cards written by the patient’s daughters. They admired my hair and especially how I was showing my support for women’s cancer. Score.
A week later, with less vibrancy in my hair, I went to Trader Joes. While I was waiting to pay, I heard the checkers whispering to each other. “There’s the guy with a dog wearing a helmet and goggles.” As I heard them say this, I inconspicuously glanced over at the people in line and sure enough, there was a guy with a dog wearing a helmet. And just about that fast, the guy came right in line behind me, and yes, he had his dog in a front pack and the dog was wearing a helmet and goggles. ("Why does a dog need to wear a helmet?" I wondered. "Seizure precautions? Or was he riding a motorcycle?") Anyway, the guy noticed my hair right off. “I really like your hair,” he said to me. “That’s really beautiful, the way the pink and purple are done.”
“Oh, thank you,” I said and, of course, I told him all about what happened at work.
“Well,” said the man wearing a dog with a helmet and goggles, “your hair looks very nice.”
As I walked away, I thought I would never have talked to this strange looking man before, but my hair overcame my own discomfort level and I learned that the strange looking man wasn’t so strange after all. He was a human just like me.
GENEVA CHINNOCK is a writer and author of Becoming His Beloved: Journey into the Father’s Affection. Geneva has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and a Master in Business Administration. In her spare time, Geneva loves reading, eating bacon and attending live theater. She lives in Southern California with her husband and blogs about matters of faith at TreasuredbyGod.com.