William Shakespeare was arguably one of the best writers in the English language. Some people just have a way with words, and Shakespeare was certainly one of them. From plays to poetry, I think it’s safe to say that Willie had a gift. Not only a wordsmith, he hailed from London, making it entirely plausible that he had a fabulous accent, putting him at the top of my list of people I would love to have read me bedtime stories. Well – except for the fact that he died over 399 years ago, so were he actually to read to me, I would likely have a panic attack of epic proportions and not the sweet sleep I had envisioned – but I digress…
Shakespeare is credited for the popular phrase The Eyes are the Window to the Soul and there are some scientific types who would tend to agree. Years ago, as I struggled through a biology course in college, I read a number of studies indicating that eye color directly affected things like pain tolerance. I specifically recall the idea that women with blue eyes were thought to have less pain in childbirth. That idea is surely bunk, as I am the blue-eyed mother of three boys and am here to tell you that bringing those fellas into this world was no picnic! The smarty-pants in lab coats have also had some thought-provoking theories about iris patterns being a sign of one’s tendency towards things like impulsivity, extending trust, or having a warm personality. Sure, my baby blues might be able tell you a bit about me; but if I were a betting gal (thankfully I’m not, as math is not my strong suit, making my poker playing abilities dismal at best) the average joe is less likely to ponder how intense my migraines are due to my pale eyes and more apt to notice my penchant for shades of grey…in the form of eye shadow of course. Due to the fact that I have some groovy artwork framed on my wall in lieu of a medical diploma, all I’ve got to go on is my personal experience. As luck would have it, I happen to be an expert in the field of my life. So here’s how I see it: the hair is actually the window to the soul – or at least it is into mine.
God has given us all amazing minds, so use your imagination and follow me back a couple of decades. Let’s go back to the 80’s – oh c’mon you younger gals may not have been fortunate enough to live in those amazing fashion years when hairspray was king, but thanks to modern technology you can take a quick sec and google it. There was some teased up-permed up-straight up nonsense going on back then for sure! I have to admit, though I was a late bloomer (epically late – like 40), I did jump on board the big haired wagon. As a teenager, I had the biggest, baddest mane on the block. It was long, thick, and at times held the distinct scent of a fresh perm. That is, until I came to the realization my appearance may be the cause of some pretty serious abuse I was enduring.
As many who find themselves the victim of sexual abuse, I felt lost and alone. What was going on was clearly my fault – I had to fix it. In my young mind, I reasoned that if I could make myself as unattractive as possible, then the madness would stop. The visits to my room in the middle of the night would cease. Maybe I could go unnoticed; become invisible. With my plan was securely in place, I was off to the salon. No more long locks for me – I went as short as I could go without involving a razor. As I sat in that chair, attempting to eliminate what I thought to be the catalyst of the abuse, my eyes wouldn’t have told you of the horrors plaguing my soul. However, the signs were evident in every flash of the scissors, each sweep of the comb. My freshly shorn hair was certain to be my protection, except it wasn’t.
As a grown woman, I wish I could’ve bequeathed a bit of advice to that young girl. For starters, lay off the hairspray, sister! It turns out Aqua Net wasn’t all that great for the environment. Living in the desert, the idea of global warming (fictional or otherwise) is kind of a drag. More importantly, it wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you could have done to prevent the predator from choosing you as his prey and you were NOT weak. Living through that horrendous season makes you one of the strongest people I know. Much more importantly, though you may have felt isolated and alone, nothing could have been further from the truth. The truth is you were never alone – not then, not now, not ever.
As women, our feelings can be tricky – so misleading. Many of us feel things very deeply, which can be a good thing; God created us in such a way. However, I don’t believe He intended us to be led solely by those feelings or even the environment we find ourselves in. When we feel alone and isolated, that is when we need to pause and see what the Word has to say (even if we don’t feel like it).Deuteronomy 31:6 is crystal clear when it says, “…for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” So we aren’t alone? What great news! It gets better when we look at one of my favorite verses Jeremiah 29:11 , “’For I know that plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’” Now there is some fantastical news: no matter what the current situation or how we feel about it, our God has a plan. Guess what? It’s not plan B, C, or some thrown together fly-by-the-seat plan. The Creator of the universe – the one who flung the stars into the sky and paints the most beautiful Arizona sunsets – is on the road of life with you and is leading you to a good place, a place of hope.
There is a saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and I must say that I strongly disagree. As we allow God to work in our hearts and minds, often times the result is a softening. The one who has felt the sting of verbal abuse is more apt to tame the tongue. The one whose heart has been shattered is the one who shows kindness to those in the midst of heartbreak. As we allow God to work through our past, He has an amazing way of placing us in a position to speak peace, courage, and life to those who need it most.
Every now and again, my sleep is interrupted and I wake with my heart beating out of my chest, my dreams having been disturbed by the nightmares of the past. Those are the times that I have to remind myself that it wasn’t my fault; that I am safe now. I see my husband asleep next to me and think of my children down the hall – all part of His plan. As my breathing returns to normal, I roll over to check the time with a sigh, knowing I have got to get back to sleep. After all, I’ll need to be up early enough to tame my head full of long, crazy locks before I face the new day.
Have you ever run all over your house looking for your glasses when they were on your head? How about screaming to the person on your cell phone that you can’t find your phone? A young mother just told me that she couldn’t figure out why her other three children kept looking at her like she was out of her mind when she asked them where their baby sister was…their baby sister who was perched happily on her hip!
The best one yet, however, was from my good friend who told me the other day that when she poured her morning cup of coffee she scalded her hand when she picked it up. Having not even looked at the cup before touching it, she looked down bewildered. That’s when she saw that she had poured her coffee into and long stem wine glass.
Life is often a madhouse, a series of seemingly random, but purposeful events that string together in something that seldom looks like pearls. Our life strings often look more like one of those pasta necklaces our children made for us in preschool.
In other words, it’s not neat. It’s messy.
My daddy used to tell me that I had two speeds in life: Stop and Hair on Fire. Unfortunately, I seem to settle in the one where smoke billows from my head. Do you?
As Christian women who “manage the house,” as Paul very aptly described it in Titus 2, how can we combat this? Because the truth is that as much as we might want to think that productivity comes in the “hair on fire” mode, it really comes in the “stop” mode.
Why do you suppose that the psalmist records our Lord as saying in Psalm 46:10,
Be still and know that I am God.
When you really think about the application of this verse in day-to-day terms, the truth is that none of us can listen to anyone while we’re spinning in life to the point of exhaustion and losing our glasses, children, minds, and coffee mugs! How can we expect the peace that surpasses all understanding from our Father when we aren’t at peace in our lives? (Philippians 4:7)
Sisters, no one can force you to look for this kind of peace. You must decisively choose to stop, even for a moment, and listen. God speaks to us every day and in so many beautiful ways. However, we simply will not hear Him if we are running around with our hair on fire, even if it is doing things that are ultimately good.
C.S. Lewis once said,
“The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day come rushing at you like wild animals. And the first job of every morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter voice come flowing in.”
As women of God, we are called to be women of excellence in His name, so of course, our lives are going to be full. But full doesn’t have to mean crazy. Full doesn’t have to mean running around like the proverbial chicken with her head cut off. And full doesn’t have to mean out of control.
Full means living to the best and loveliest extent of all that the Father has given us. Full means smiling in the running, singing in the busy, laughing in the chaos. Most importantly, though, full means living a life that ultimately points to the gracious love of our Savior. Full means that we do not lack joy or rest in the middle of everything we do.
In order for us to do that, sometimes we have to stop, take a breath, and look up. Sometimes we simply have to remember when Jesus said,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
It’s okay that sometimes you lose the child on your hip or that you grab a wine glass instead of a coffee cup. But when those times come, remember that perhaps it’s also time to stop, take a knee, and know that He is God.
Have you ever run away from something, and I don’t mean something that might threaten your life? I mean, has there been a time in your life when you ran because you didn’t want what was in front of you, so you did a 180 and took off like lightening in the opposite direction?
Most of us, if we’ve lived for any length of time, can remember at least one of those times, maybe even more than one. As Christians, that running most likely involved running from God. Not too many believers would say that in some way at some time they didn’t run from what God was telling them to do. After all, there is a little Jonah in all of us. (more…)