The Hair Confessional

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a priest, sitting behind that grate, hearing people expose the darkness inside their souls? Well, you’re about to find out because this post is as good as me stepping behind that curtain and confessing a rather embarrassing sin. (Can you tell I’ve never actually participated in a legit confessional session?)

I’ve always had a thing about my hair. A thing I now know is pride. Aside from a misstep in seventh grade that involved uneven bangs and short layers, I’ve always had long locks. And those locks have always been a light shade of yellow.

I grew up in Southern California, where the seemingly endless Summer helped me retain my natural blonde, with a smattering of sun bleached highlights. The two things most people noted about my appearance were my height and my hair. Over the years I began to link my hair with any good vibes I felt about my physical features. In a sea of girls with blonde from a box, I also loved that my golden hue was natural.

Life post high school found me in the Midwest, where four distinct seasons meant less sun exposure and a slowly darkening mane. I still had summers in SoCal to help maintain my blonde, but it had made a distinct turn for towards the dark side. Those days were my first indication I may have put too much stock in my long, blonde locks.

As the years went by, and my geographical location changed from England to Missouri, California to Idaho, my hair has continued to change too. There were brief periods of time when I thought I could hang on to the sun bleached blonde of my youth, but our move to Idaho solidified my current honey hue.

In isolation, I don’t mind the color of my hair, but in comparison, I long for the straw instead of wheat. Tim has heard me bemoan my darkened strands more times that I’d like to admit. Multiple hairdressers have volunteered to add some highlights but I’ve always resisted the artificial solution.

Until last Friday. I got my hair colored for the first time.

The Hair Confessional

It’s been four days and I’m still not completely sold on the result, but I’m glad I did it. Why? Because the decision and process of highlighting my hair (which I realize is almost second nature to some folks, who are probably reading this thinking I’m a weirdo…) has shown a bright light into a dusty place in my heart that needs some cleaning.

Some observations:

  • I had let my hair become a source of pride. Part of the reason I resisted dying my hair was my inability to say I was a natural blonde – something I had previously worn like a badge of honor.
  • I had let my hair become part of my identity. Sure, hair color is listed on your driver’s license, but it doesn’t define your worth. I had attributed personal value to my hair color and, by association, where I grew up. I love Southern California and my hair had always been a reminder to me and others that I came from the Golden State. But my worth is not dependent on my hair or my hometown. I need to always remember that my identity is in Christ.
  • I had let my hair dictate my approval rating. This process was just further evidence that I care too much about what others think. Track with me here… I was always afraid that if I got compliments about my highlighted hair it would mean those people liked it better the that way which would mean they liked me better or thought I was prettier in an unnatural state. I didn’t want anyone’s approval to be based on something that wasn’t intrinsic to me. Convoluted, I know. And, even if they did, it shouldn’t matter. Again, my identity and value come from Christ, not my hair or getting other people’s approval.

“‘Go!’ God tells us. “Your heart has been untangled from the false distortions of love. You are no longer tied down by fears of rejection or disapproval or popular opinion. If you forget how much I love you, which you probably will, do not lose heart. Turn back to Me, and I will send you out again with a command: Love your neighbors as yourselves.”

Jennifer Dukes Lee in Love Idol

I don’t want to be tied down by a fear of rejection or disapproval or popular opinion. If highlighting my hair taught me anything, it taught me this: I don’t want a small thing like blonde hair to get in the way of experiencing the true love and acceptance of my Savior.

To learn more about “letting go of your need for approval and seeing yourself through God’s eyes,” pop over to Kindred Grace and read my full review of Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee. (There’s only two more days to enter the giveaway for your chance to win one of three copies of Love Idol!)