These are the reflections of a stay-at-home dad, or soon to be mostly stay-at-home dad. Beginning this week, I have a small part-time gig lined up at a local church. One of the parts of my daily routine with Lydia is to brush her hair. Lydia has inherited her mother’s wild, curly hair. I learned early in my marriage not to call it “frizzy!”
Lydia has this little pink spray bottle and comb that sit atop her dresser, and every morning we engage in the ritual of taming her tangled locks. It can be quite the time-consuming endeavor. It’s like a miracle in reverse the way her hair manages to tie itself into knots while she sleeps each night. Every morning she wakes, and her hair needs assistance. A few squirts of water, some good chit chat, and the working of the brush through her hair to get out all the tangles.
Each day brings with it the need for more brushing. More untangling. More work and effort so that she can have beautiful hair. After the 4th day of doing this, I found myself getting annoyed. Isn’t there some way to just fix this so that her hair doesn’t keep getting tangled? (maybe there is and feel free to share) Isn’t there some simple one-time fix that will work forever so that she wakes up without knots?
As I sat impatiently brushing her hair I realized that this was a perfect metaphor for sin. I so often wish that I could just sprits my sin away with a quick prayer, read a few Bible verses and have it disappear forever. I often wish it was that easy, but the truth is that it’s not. The tangles of sin, pride, fear, the need for control, unforgiveness and racism show up each morning. The temptation to love myself and not my neighbor is a knot in my soul that doesn’t disappear once and for all. It is a daily challenge. It requires work and time and is sometimes painful. The knots in my soul are far more unruly and messy than the knots in Lydia’s hair.
As I reflected further, I recognized that Lydia needs someone to help her with her hair. There are some parts that she can brush by herself, but to get out all the knots she needs someone else. There are places that she cannot see. There are areas that she is blind too, so there is partnership and trust required for the daily eradication of knots.
It is the same with sin. Overcoming sin is not something I can do by myself. I too have blind spots and places I can’t reach. I need the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. I need Godly friends who will pick up the brush and point out areas that I have overlooked or have been unwilling or unable to see. And it’s not enough to do this every once in a while. I need daily communion with God and others.
So, I’m choosing to make the ritual of hair brushing a sacred one. A daily reminder of my own need for help and healing and wholeness so that I might live the good and beautiful life to which God has called me. I pray that you too will find small, sacred spaces to connect with God and recognize your need for help. A knotty soul is much worse than knotty hair.