Cutting the long red ties that bind

This is my hair:

Hair today, gone tomorrow:

This is the second time I’ve donated my hair. I grew it out for that express purpose. In fact, while it’s a novelty to have it long, I don’t actually think it’s flattering on me, perhaps because I’ve had short hair for most of my adult life. Besides, it’s uncomfortable, hot and sticky and frequently tangled. Plus it ends up everywhere, often in the form of menacing hairballs. But this time, even with all that said, I had a really hard time making the cut. It seemed every time I would decide this is it, someone close to me would protest, telling me how beautiful it was or how they envied me. And to be honest, it spoke to something inside of me, that part that wants to be beautiful or envied. That part that is worldly.

I waffled. I wavered. And then God brought me the following verse: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). Those comments, and even the very notion that it might be my hair that made me beautiful, came from the world, and we are called to rise above that.

Even more dangerously, I had several Christian friends tell me, when I brought them my concerns, that God didn’t care about whether I cut my hair. Again: the world! The world wants us to believe that God doesn’t care, that He is too busy with the greater good. But when “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30), God cares about whether they’re cut. No, I don’t think it matters to God whether I have long or short hair. I don’t think that it makes me any more able to do His will or not. But to tell myself that He doesn’t care puts limits on what’s important to Him. Everything about me is important to Him.

Our guide, then, in not conforming to these worldly notions–either of beauty or of value–is the renewing of our minds, which then allows us to “to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Put differently, “we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Every thought captive. Even the ones about our hair. I love this passage because it’s so active–I can practically picture myself with a lasso, wrestling with the thoughts I have moment by moment, binding them up and making them see the truth of Christ’s word, demolishing every pretension. Even the ones about beauty or value.

I prayed about my hair, despite what everyone around me said to the contrary. I took captive the thoughts that went contrary to God’s Word. I made them obedient to what I know and believe. God brought me back to that original verse about not conforming to this world, and I made the cut. And the craziest thing happened: I felt free. I felt like myself–or rather, the person God wants me to be, unburdened by the weight of the world. Yes, yes, I know. It was only hair. And of course, not having that hair will make a person feel not-so-weighted. But this was deeper. This was the promised transformation when our minds our renewed, when we challenge those conventions of the world and turn them over to the God of all creation–and long red hairs, too. Physical transformation, mental transformation. I’m so blessed to have a God who works it all.

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