Monday, December 29, 2014

The Hairdresser...

I am still optimistic enough about America to get my hair cut at a discount shop in suburbia. My Pollyanna hopes usually find me there thinking I’ll actually look better after a trim, and paying for my cut-rate coif with a coupon.

I hope against all indications to the contrary for a hairdresser who is not in the middle of an ugly divorce or discontented because her teenage son refuses to listen to her. I usually settle for a cosmetologist who is only slightly drunk on the blue stuff they dip the combs in when they come to the end of the haircut and ask me if the sides hanging one below my collar and one above my eyebrow look even to me.

The worst haircut of my life was the day I waited an extra-long time, paging through old magazines and nervously touching my ponytail only to luck out with a stylist who announced to me first off that he didn’t really think I needed a shampoo. He was in a hurry. That was clear. He didn’t really want to mess with my hair. He wasn’t even really interested in his gig as a hairdresser.  He pulled the ponytail out and began to try to comb through my white-girl afro. He yanked at my head and muttered under his breath like it was somehow my fault that I had this hair. Then, without combing all the way through he just started cutting. He sheared off the back and then put the pony tail back in and whipped off the plastic smock. He was done. I sat stunned as he walked away toward the cashier’s station talking non-stop about how he really didn’t want to do this hairdressing thing and that really he was a handyman and had experience with dry walling, plumbing, carpentry … he actually handed me his business card.

The bargain price of this haircut did nothing to help me get over it. I went home and took a shower and hacked on my hair myself to make it look a little better. I imagined the work the handyman hairdresser would do around our house skillfully strapping duct tape to leaking pipes, or cutting pieces of wood and nailing them up to create things that looked like the L’il Rascals Clubhouse.

What a horrible place to live—hating your job, not even being good at it and trying to get customers to give you work doing something else while they are in shock from how ugly you just made them look. I can’t even imagine doing my job with that bad of an attitude. But sometimes we get stuck in places where we don’t thrive. We get to the end of what we know or want or understand and there we are standing behind some poor woman and snipping off her hair. Weird metaphor, I know. But I feel like that hairdresser sometimes. If I don’t want to do what I’m doing, if I don’t like it, if I am angry and hate everyone. Snip. Snip. We all have an inner discontented hairdresser maybe. Maybe we say really mean things when we are unhappy with ourselves.

I saw a small plaque on a hairdresser’s station one time that illustrates how different this can be when you actually like your job. “Hairstylists bring out the beauty in everyone.” Probably, we all have the potential, no matter what our profession, to bring beauty out of others—or on the dark side to bring ugliness out of others. And like a bad hairstylist, it has less to do with our skills than with our attitude.

So how do you change your attitude? Ah ha. Just renew your mind. Make it like Christ’s. Romans 12. Simple--but not easy.

Sometimes a good haircut helps, too. 
Rebecca works in Kids Ministry at Flatirons and has three children of her own. Figuring out ways for all these kids to understand the love of Jesus consumes the bulk of her time. The rest is spent reading, writing, gardening and cooking.

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