Monday, February 20, 2012

A Tale of Vanity

It was a Thursday afternoon. I had summoned up enough courage to get a hair cut, something that has been a traumatizing event in times past. I had even decided on a new (for me) hair style, and was almost excited to see how it would turn out.

That feeling lasted approximately two minutes, also known as the time it takes to shampoo your hair at the salon. Once the first cut was over, I realized I'd made a mistake.

Post-haircut Emily is not someone I'm proud of, and on that day I definitely wasn't. I called my husband, basically sobbing, going on and on about how short and how ugly and how stupid my hair was. I kept thinking of all these things I had to do (drivers license photo, trip to my alma mater) and how embarrassing it would be to be seen in public with this new hair style that wouldn't even go into a ponytail (!!!).

I spent the entire afternoon in a tizzy. I cried again when I got home and faced my husband, ashamed of how I looked. Since I didn't get home until late, it wasn't long before bedtime, and I crept upstairs for a moment to myself.

As I laid in the bed, it hit me. Emily, I thought, you are being so vain. I was so caught up in the physical appearance of myself that I hadn't focused one ounce of energy on how I looked to God, or if I looked like Him. Immediately, shame came over me again, only this time a very different kind. I was ashamed that I had spent the better part of my day acting like a child, and being completely caught up in the  physical. I spent the next few minutes in prayer to my Father, thanking Him for giving me such a needed lesson. While I still long for ponytail-length hair, I am thankful that it is short, because I needed the lesson in vanity.

My hair had been super long for a really long time. In October, I cut off 11 inches for Pantene Beautiful Lengths. The last haircut, I got about 3 1/2 to 4 more inches cut off. It wasn't until those last 4 came off that I realized I'd been using my hair as a source of vanity for a long time. I was so attached to it. And while there is nothing wrong with having hair, when you choose to place so much emphasis on the length or color or style or whatever else, you place less importance on God. The more I held on to something that was physical--something that would one day return to the dust, the less I focused on spiritual things. It was a much-needed lesson that I hope to never forget.

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel--rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:3-4

It is my prayer that I will spend the rest of my life more concerned with making my inward self beautiful and precious to God, and less concerned with "arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel".

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