Keeping Up Appearances

Today I tried this new shade of haircolor – Clairol’s “Natural Instincts” in gingerbread. I was a little nervous, since the LAST time I colored my hair it required the intervention of a professional. But the name of the product was strangely reassuring, and it only took ten minutes (which during the summer months, with wild banshees my adorable children running loose, is no small consideration).

It wasn’t until after the product was on my hair that I noticed you’re supposed to put it on DAMP hair. Rats.

But it worked … Not a gray in sight.  Just lots of shine and bounce … kinda makes a girl giddy, y’know?

As I stood there primping, I was reminded of the first time I colored my hair — I did it on a dare, with my mother, when I was twenty and home from college on Christmas break. We bought two boxes of light auburn hair dye, and I did mine first to show her how simple it was. Then mom chickened out.  But I liked it so well, I decided to keep it.

Now, I should mention that the particular Bible school I was attending at the time was part of a VERY conservative Christian community. And so, when I strolled into the dining room my first day back, a cluster of old biddies saintly old souls at the corner table nearly got whiplash from straining their necks so fast to get a look at my new ‘do.

One of them crooked a finger at me, bidding me within earshot.  “Young woman, WHAT did you do to yourself?” (Her tone clearly indicated that I’d committed some enormous fault.)

“My mother and I treated ourselves over the break — isn’t it pretty?” (This last question was rather pointless, as they made no collective effort to hide their horror.)

“Don’t you think that if GOD had wanted you to have red hair, He would have given it to you?”

I paused and studied her a moment, unsure of how to respond in a way that wouldn’t get me in more hot water. Then I smiled sweetly back. “Say, Mrs. D___, your hair is looking lovely today.  Is your hair naturally curly?”

From the look on their faces, her tablemates caught on about ten seconds sooner than my accuser. “Oh, no. I had a wave put in …”

“I guess God forgot the curls, huh?” And with a smile and a swivel, I made a hasty exit from the dining room.

That encounter has stayed with me over the years as an example of how, as Christians, we sometimes make moral issues out of what amounts to personal preference or opinion. What is worse, we exclude or treat as less “spiritual” those who see the world a bit differently.

I think it was St. Augustine who said it best …

In essentials, unity;
In non-essentials, liberty;
In all things, charity.

Lord, help me to be more careful in expressing the humility and charity you extend to me, each and every day!

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