A couple of days ago one of my best friends came by with an incredible hairdresser. The goal was to fix my hair after it was shaved (for the third time) by a surgeon. As Kendra (the hair dresser) looked over my head I could tell from her sighs it wasn’t going to be an easy fix. Everything was uneven. It was impossible for the short hair to be blended with the long. I had two options. I could have it all buzzed off or, I could be willing to step out and try a funky, punky look, hold my head high and go for some sense of style.
As Kendra did her amazing work, my dear friend Denise sat across the table smiling, laughing, loving and supporting. Even when I began to feel more and more insecure about my decision to go for the funky, punky look, her soft words, gentle smile and love reassured me. “It looks good.” “I like it.” “You can pull this off.” Her steadiness helped soften the blow of shaving off most of my hair, that is except for a small patch on top and a really funky mohawk in the back. (My kids by the way are all over the mohawk as you can imagine — Faith thinks I should dye it pink!).
Once the hair cut was done I stood in front of my mirror and realized I have a version of Miley Cyrus’ new hair cut. Minus the platinum blonde, the skinny twenty something face and pop star attitude that is. Hmmmmm.
As Kendra, gave me a hug and left, Denise stayed for a few minutes. Again and again she reassured me I looked beautiful. In that moment what struck me is Denise wasn’t just looking at my hair, she was looking at my heart through the prism of her friendship and love for me. She saw me as a whole person and in total authentic truth (surely blended with a whole lot of mercy and grace) saw beauty instead of the physical train wreck that I have become.
Now, that is a true friend and that is real love.
For a couple of days now I’ve gone out with my “Miley” cut and have seen about every look possible. When those looks make me want to hide though, I think back to those quiet moments with Denise and remember how she saw me. When I remember those moments, my tension eases, my hope returns and I am once again able to hold my head high. Love after all brings strength, heals wounds, renews hope and can even bring a giggle in the most silly situations…like Miley/mohawk haircut on me.
God’s love, does the same thing don’t you think? God steps into our lives and sees the uneven mess we are. Character flaws, sin, anger, unresolved hurt — on and on — the landscape of our lives makes it very difficult for us to be evened out and healed. He doesn’t come in screaming and raging that we pull ourselves together and look perfect though. No, he comes along side, like my friend Denise did, softly, lovingly and fully of grace and mercy.
God loves us so much that he is committed to working on those areas where we need to be evened out. But, the God I have come to love, always comes with grace, mercy and abundant love. While in process, there certainly will be ups and downs. We might even have to find the humor in a Miley cut or mohawk a time or two. With God, it isn’t about looking perfect, it’s about learning to walk in his grace, grown in his character and trust — no matter what other people think. With God, it is about being shaped in his loving hands. With God, our journey — even the ups and downs — is always good.
In my life I have been blessed to have many wonderful friends. Friends like Denise who see me in spite of my flaws. Each friend is a treasure – and each makes me a better person because they are in my life. I am also so blessed to know my Lord and savior who loves me more than I can ever imagine. He too sees my flaws – but instead of rejecting me for them, he journeys life with me to help me through them. It is so incredibly humbling to be blessed and live life in the midst of just endless and abounding mercy.
May we all grow in love, mercy and grace. May we all be willing to be shaped by the master — even if for a season we wear our Miley/Mohawks for the world to see!
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails …