Thursday, May 7, 2009

Trust and Masks

There are two things for a woman that sometimes can be a wilderness to navigate - one is her hair, and the other her face. And sometimes, when one goes through harrowing experiences relating to these features - at the same time you are learning a lot from God - you learn a lesson or two that sticks with you. I recently was the beneficiary of two such lessons, and as such, I felt as if I should share them with the world wide web.

I love my hair - it is one of the few features that I possess that I genuinely like. Most of the time. You could say that my hair is an extension of myself. It has a mind of it's own and can be pretty stubborn. But in the hands of a professional (which I am not), it can look gorgeous, and I can look in the mirror and say, "I LOVE it" and really genuinely mean it. And I will pay what I need to pay to in order for it be chopped and changed by experienced hands. It is an indulgence that I give in to every three or four months, or right about the time that I am ready to shave my head, a la' Britney.

The stylist that I have been going to for the past four years since I've lived in Warrenton is probably the only straight male hairdresser out there that can pull off leather pants and long hair. I love him. He is my hair guru. The moment he cut my hair the first time and I found out that he is one degree away from Nick Arrojo, my hair god from "What Not to Wear", (he used to be Nick's colorist!), I was sold. So I usually just sit in the chair and tell him in general terms to do whatever, and away he goes. He is like a sculptor and it is in the moments that I am sitting the chair and he is looking at my Chia-pet head, that I revel in watching the creative process come alive. He comes up with the vision and then "bam" it is done and beautiful. I love the whole process, my whole time at the salon. It is a wonderful experience. Usually.

This past Friday I went in to get some highlights, which I have done from time to time. But when it comes to color and my hair, I am not bold. I am very, very conservative. I like it to look very, very natural - almost so that you don't notice the highlights. Nothing to rock the boat. But this was not to be on Friday. Nope, when I sat down in the chair, I was given two choices - platinum blonde or really, really red. I was scared and very, very nervous. I was kind of hemming and hawing, but I made mention that at one point he had done some auburn reddish highlights which were cool, and instantly my decision was made for me - "We're going with cool!" - when in fact I was going to say to go with blonde. Too late.

So, I nervously sat there watching my stylist mix the color. One shake, two shakes, three shakes, FOUR shakes, FIVE shakes - mix! I knew that the more color being put into the bowl, the more intense this was going to be. But I sat in my chair, smiling and chatting away, as if I didn't have a care in the world, while inside I was like, "what have I done??"

When it came time to take out the foils, the poor girl who was taking the foils out and washing my head had her hands stained bright pink. I walked back to the chair, looked at the mirror, and my eyes must have gotten wide as a chipmunk because staring back at me was a wet-headed mop of brown and bright pink streaks throughout my entire head of hair. I was shocked. My stylist loved it. In fact, all the stylists there at the salon loved it! And I thought briefly maybe I should just take up residence at the salon and never leave, because I didn't know who else would love it! After drying my hair, I literally said to my stylist, "I feel like a rockstar" to which he was ecstatic. And off to work I had to go.

Needless to say, my new do definitely got some looks and remarks at work. Myself, I didn't know whether to burst into tears or to laugh about it or to love it. The turning point was the remark from my boss who said that he was proud of me for taking such a risk with my hair - to which I thought, "am I really that boring?" And the more that I looked at it, the more I came to embrace it and love it. And over the course of the next couple of days the bright pink faded into some bright deep red highlights which I now absolutely love and adore. Because there is a part of me, that most people don't see, that loves to take a risk and surprise others and myself.

And this is what was revealed to me through this whole experience. I went into my salon that morning fully trusting whatever my stylist was going to do, because he can rarely do any wrong in my eyes (at least when it comes to my hair). In the midst of the process, when he gave me my two options, my trust was shaken. At the end of my time at the salon, highlights in and done, I was shaken to my core and doubting everything that had been done. But as I continued through the process, gauging my own reactions to the mirror, as well as people's encouraging comments, I came to realize that I had nothing to fear. My hair looked awesome and my trust was rewarded.

How often do I doubt God when He asks me to trust Him? Very often. I sit in that chair, looking at Him, wondering what in the flippin' world I have allowed Him to do. I get up, questioning myself, my entire identity, wondering what I have done. But if I continue to journey on, how much more often do I find that all along, I was right in trusting my Lord, that He has worked an amazing thing in my life, and I find that I know and love Him that much more? What other things are there that I am too scared to experience because I don't want to rock the boat; I don't want to take the risk? I think I have hit a vein, a theme for this year. If last year was "Change" in all shapes and sizes, I believe that this year is "Risk and Trust".

The other thing that happened was that I was so out of it the other morning (actually because I was thinking about my hair and trust issues), that I literally walked out of my house, got in my car, was ten minutes into my commute, on the highway ramp when I suddenly realized that I had not put on a single bit of makeup. I was horrified. My brain raced for what my solution was going to be - do I spend $40+ on a new set of makeup?? Do I have time to go to a drugstore and do that (that would have been no, as I was running late)?? Do I/Can I turn around and go home?? Again, no dice - already on the highway, with no where to turn around. So I had to resolve myself to facing the day with all my facial flaws exposed to the world.

The thing is, I really came into the makeup game late, and I am by no means a master of it. I went years without wearing any makeup and I was fine. But I have found that now that I put it on everyday, I can't go out of my house without it on my face. Even if it's just the basic essentials of mascara and blush, I can't go without it. I need it to mask my flaws!

So, to go to work, without any makeup on to mask those flaws, was extremely hard and horrifying - and yet liberating. I had forgotten my mask, so all I could do was smile and laugh. That was the only thing I had for my face. There was a lot of power in realizing that my flaws were exposed for the whole world to see, and there was nothing I could about it.

Because, how often do we put on masks to find our flaws? And how much harder is it when those masks are revealed for the falsehoods that they are? For me, I see masks up everywhere. Masks and walls that people can't let go, can't let down, and thus miss out on what real and fulfilling life is like. A couple of posts ago, I wrote about what success means to me. I think the way that my Enemy wants me to think about success is just another mask that I would put on to the whole world - just another lie, to hide all the flaws and turmoil of my real life and heart. If I was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that would certainly make me look good and cool and smart in the eyes of a lot of people. But behind that appearance, what would really be there? Would that really be a real and fulfilling life for me? No, not really - not for this chick. And I would say that's probably the truth for a lot of other people as well - especially those that have achieved their success, and once there, they find that this appearance, this success was a lie the entire time.

I don't want to live my life hiding behind masks. And I love how God used me forgetting to hide my facial flaws as a way to reaffirm and remind me of what really matters - that smile on my face. That's real.

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