My hair is growing back. Little wisps have suddenly appeared around my face, darker brown than the rest of my hair, like someone accidentally scuffed a marker across my temple. I didn’t see them a week ago, but now they are there, and I wonder what else might be being restored.
The hair began falling out in clumps last winter, long strands whirling around the shower floor and clogging up my detangler brush. I finally went to the dermatologist; she asked if there had been any stressors in my life a month before this began.
A month before, I had gotten into my husband’s car on a cold Christmas Eve to go look at lights. It was the last thing I did without pain for months. The doctors said nerve pain is like nothing else, and they were right. Screaming pain seared from my lower back to my toes, and I once wondered if cutting them off could possibly hurt more. Months of physical therapy kept me from the surgeon’s knife, but months were hard to retrieve.
So, any stressors? Yeah, maybe.
Apparently, my body responds to stress by dropping its tresses. This is discouraging for me because my hair has been my vanity since I grew it in perfect Farrah feathers in high school. I’ve been growing it out long, because I feel it’s time to look like the free spirit I’m becoming in my later middle age. Having it all fall out feels like Mrs. Trunchbull shaking her finger and reminding me that vanity is one of the seven deadly sins. (Though why I’m trusting Mrs. Trunchbull with theology concerns me on many levels.)
The hair was just the flashing alert signal of what was happening inside. Work, family, writing, hobbies, everything — all of it was uprooted and rearranged to accommodate this new me. Unable to perform daily, normal functions, I felt useless. Incapable. Like everyone else had to pick up my slack, and I wasn’t pulling my appointed load in the universe. Whatever that is.
The me who planned a sea kayaking trip in February, a sixteen-mile hike in June, a book launch, speaking gigs, and five spring church programs didn’t coincide with the me sitting in the recliner trying to decide if the walk into the kitchen to retrieve my teacup was too much for one morning.
The post-injury me lost herself in a dark world of lies about my usefulness and fears about my future.
My life would be divided in two by this event. Before injury and after injury, like my personal form of BC/AD time. Isn’t this true more often than we realize? Something comes along, and we may not even realize at the time that it’s going to be a big thing — like getting into a car on a Christmas light expedition.
It becomes a big thing. A massive thing. It invades our life, changing all that we knew about what we could do and what we thought we knew. I’ve had dividing points before this. A parent’s death. A life-altering surgery. A child’s wandering away. We sit in that space between life before and life after, not knowing what it will look like on the other side of the door, not truly believing we’ll even get there because the pain of the empty space is so great and the darkness so deep.
Then one day, we see wisps of hope curling around our faces. They weren’t there before. We didn’t think we’d ever see them again. But there they are. They greet us, gently telling us that the threshold waits for us to cross over into what life will be from now on. It will be different, but that does not mean it will be bad.
We take the things we’ve learned in that in-between space and we venture into the new, newly equipped. We say to ourselves, blinking in the light outside the door:
I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Lamentations 3:20-24 (NLT)
I will never forget sitting in that place of in-between. I will never get back what was before. But I will never not feel the presence of the One who met me and embraced me there, and I know I will be there again sometime. Yet still, I dare to hope. I dare to believe in restoration. New hair is new hope, and isn’t it like God to offer those beautiful wisps of joyful hope when you forgot to expect it?
And hey, it’s not even grey.
We take the things we’ve learned in that in-between space and we venture into the new, newly equipped. - @JillMarieRichar: Click To Tweet