I have a thing with hair–I love all things connected to it: styles, cuts, colors, accessories & products. Truthfully, hair is an emotional outlet for me & a gauge of control struggles.
I’m not exactly sure when I first expressed my feelings through my hair. Maybe it was when my college exams were weighing on my mind & I reached for my drugstore ‘flexible hold hairspray’, thinking it wasn’t quite doing the job I needed it to do–keep things in place & give me a little order–my hair was a little too flexible.
A bit later I landed a happy job teaching 4th grade & that’s about when I ramped up to ‘firm hold hairspray’. I remember sneaking a break in-between stressful parent-teacher conferences & basically gluing my hair down to my head because if I couldn’t control the conversation, well then, I was certainly going to control my hair.
As the chaos of adulthood added up, life felt ‘out of control’ & so I sprayed my hair within an inch of its life—committed that no Chicago wind would blow my bangs. This was now with ‘extreme hold hairspray’.
You could chronicle events of my life by hair happenings!
As time brought careers, challenges, marriage, full hands & hearts with 4 kiddos— I turned to other ways of controlling my hair—cutting, coloring & stronger hair spray-as well as too expensive products!
My hair became my heart’s barometer. What I mean is, underneath all my attempts to find the perfect hairspray, hairstyle & hair color was my unhinged attempt at control—& let’s face it— most things in life we can’t control.
Funnily enough, I gave my sister most of my failed hair products & when I would visit her, I would ask what she was using on her happy, bouncy hair–actually it was her joyful countenance & contentment that I saw & envied. Ironically, she’d pluck a product from her bathroom drawer that was one I had gifted her & offer it back. When I was caught desperately considering maybe this one I had misjudged–my wise, beautiful younger sister stated with grace & truth–
BINGO! She was spot on!
What I was hoping for a hair product to accomplish, was something even the strongest of hearts couldn’t sustain on it’s own! I wanted comfort, reassurance, control & relief all packaged in a cheery can with an artsy label & satisfaction guaranteed!
Since those days of coloring, cutting, blow drying & spraying my hair into submission, I’ve settled down to the reality of my fine, graying locks. I laugh at it all now looking on hair history in family photos—but, also realize how the struggle for truth & grace was real & is so still.
Recently, my daughter’s had some puzzling new symptoms that are outside of her diagnoses & her medical team & I have been trying to figure how to buoy her body, as well as her heart. It feels overwhelming &, some days, out of control. Not coincidentally, I have been contemplating-bangs, not bangs…bangs, not bangs-in my hair. My emotional outlet is hair—other outlets may include: shopping, redecorating, dieting, wine, binge watching shows & the list goes on.
Here‘s the bottom line–I don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution to the times when life feels out of control–but I can tell you cutting bangs probably isn’t the answer (neither is repainting living room walls, another glass of wine or the sale at TJ Maxx). What I can offer are some things, when my feelings are louder than my faith, that I’ve found helpful in getting my heart’s compass back:
- Looking for Beauty: in emotional chaos, grief or ongoing challenges, I find beauty to be very comforting & calming. In particular, nature (woods & water), classical music, church stained glass, art & any act of creating. In Japan, they have a beautiful term for walking in the woods: Forest Bathing. There’s something healing about God’s creation & others’ art washing over our souls. Find what best soothes your heart & camp there for a bit.
- Journaling: to unwind thoughts, calm feelings & find order in the chaos or to choose the next best steps to take– writing things down can sometimes help. Don’t put the pressure to filter your words as that can become too labor intensive but, feel free to write & toss, if needs be.
- Reading or listening to a good book/podcast: a captivating story line (not tragic), can give serve as a mini-mind break. Often our hearts need a small vacation from the heaviness of struggle and books can be a healthy provision.
- Calling a trusted friend: sometimes we need a friend/counselor to listen (emphasis on listen) to our heart’s struggle & maybe offer a few choice words of truth and grace.