My hair was falling out.
Yup, me, the Asian girl with thick black hair, who has always been told by hair stylists, “Wow! You have a LOT of hair!”, quietly freaked out every time I washed my hair. It had gotten so bad, I started stretching out the days I washed my hair because I felt so discouraged by the amount of hair that collected around the drain.
It started last year during the pandemic. At first, I wasn’t too worried. “Oh, well, it’ll grow back later.” I figured it was a phase my body was going through, like when I had my babies.
When the pandemic first hit last March, I was pretty calm. “Things will be better by the summer,” I told myself. I held my breath, figuring surely by fall, my tween and teen would get back to school and I’d get back to my writing. I had a new book deadline hanging over my head, but I just couldn’t get into that soulful space to write while hearing all the kid activity (aka racket) in the background. My bedroom door became a revolving door of the gazillion hats I wore throughout the day — from cheerleading mom to crisis youth counselor to referee to academic tutor to first-time homeschooling teacher to short-order cook to personal shopper and to just about everything under the sun.
My priorities were my kids and my husband. Me? I’ll figure that out later.
But the longer the pandemic stretched out, my emotional reserves, once filled with optimism, starting thinning — as did my hair. The more stressed I became, the more hair I seemed to lose.
What I needed was hope. Optimism is seeing how circumstances will get better, but hope is seeing God’s love and care in the midst of bad circumstances. Hope is the refuge in uncertainty when optimism runs dry.
So what could I do differently if I chose to hope again under God’s care? I needed to believe I was worthy of feeding my soul and caring for my body, even if it meant I had to change my expectations of myself. I needed to stop putting on the things God put on my heart on hold until life returned to “normal.” I needed to prioritize my well-being. As I asked God to renew my hope, I asked myself, “How can I live now, in a hopeful way?”
First, I needed to eat better. Because I was trying to squeeze in writing whenever I had time, I was skipping lunch and eating odds and ends. Eat lunch, Bonnie! You need protein.
Second, I needed to face my fear. Even though I was afraid of falling short, I knew I had to ask my editor for an extension. Despite all the worst-case scenarios I played in my head, I asked for what I needed and received it!
Third, I realized I needed to nurture hope throughout my day by doing something that fed my soul. After making the two changes above, I felt less stressed. With my mind more relaxed, I thought of writing outside at the park. I took my lawn chair, a thermos of tea, and started writing outside. To my surprise, the words began to flow again. Doing something that fed my soul during the day relieved my urge to stay up too late at night. And getting good sleep definitely helps with feeling hopeful!
To hope again is to believe God will help us. Hope gives us permission to do things differently and to believe God will be faithful.
Is your soul missing hope too? When we hit the wall of our limits, God gathers us in His arms to say, There is a better tomorrow for you. It might seem easier to just stay in survival mode and to simply maintain living life, but God’s truth refreshes our hearts to hope again. In Romans 5:5 it says, “This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts.”
The world seems to find hope in producing and accomplishing things, but Jesus offers us a radically different vision of what gives us hope: His love. Hope comes alive when you believe you are worthy to loved. And Jesus loves you so much, friend.
His love fuels your hope, and hope is the oxygen your soul breathes.
Since I’ve made changes to my schedule, my nutrition, and my expectations, my hair has stopped falling out as much. Over time, I’m hopeful my hair health will be replenished. (My hair loss appears to be stress induced, but please know there are many different medical reasons for hair loss, so be encouraged that God understands the complexities of each woman’s unique health journey.)
God can renew your hope. His faithfulness to do so is like the sun that rises each day to warm the earth. You matter to God, and He desires to fill you with hope to keep going — one day at a time.