The Disruption of ChangeAug 19, 2018 05:11AM ● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
It was 2:30 AM, and I was wide awake. Hot. The air conditioning was not coming on. My hair had grown so long, wavy, and three-wigs-worth-thick. When I am ready for a haircut, a switch goes off. There is no gradual realization. I wake up one day and can’t rest until I get relief from the heavy tresses. First-world problem, I know.
So it was mid-morning as I realized I would not easily get back to sleep. I grabbed my phone, googled how to cut layers in your own hair, remembered something about an upside-down ponytail, and headed downstairs for the hair scissors. There was no turning back. I was fully committed.
I am not usually this impulsive. On the contrary, I research new decisions for months before acting on them. This was completely out of character for me.
After cutting off the first swatch, I examined myself in the mirror, and other than more interesting layering, my length was not very different. I was still hot. Wildebeests (gnus) would have envied what looked like my growing winter coat. The layering technique just wasn’t cutting it.
So I kept cutting…for another hour and a half. I couldn’t stop myself. I wanted shape, a few bouncing waves on top, but shorter sides and back.
I looked down several times to find the hair carnage all over the floor and sink. At 4 AM, I decided it was unwise to vacuum the mess at that time of day, so I left the vacuum at the scene of the crime and returned to bed. I had no idea what would transpire the next morning as everyone awoke to my shorn pate.
I head downstairs, see the mess, review my face in the mirror and burst into hysterical laughter at my crazy 2:30 AM activities. Humor was what I was wearing, apparently too loudly.
Younger son comes downstairs upset I woke him with my laughing fit. He didn’t even look at me. As he asked what was so funny, I mentioned I had cut all my hair in the middle of the night. There was expressed disbelief, but not long after, he approached me cautiously, frightened not only by my maniacal laughter but equally by the possibility that what I said was true. He said something along the lines of “What on earth?” “Why did you do that?” “What is wrong with you?” And then...”Please wear a hat when we go pick up my friend.” He even told his friend getting in the car for carpool later on that it was still his mom despite the hair crisis.
(And this is how I knew she was having a rough morning): I enter my daughter’s room to wake her, but her eyes are open looking at me. I explain what I did, and she doesn’t bat an eye. No reaction. Just sleepy eyes.
A text and email from my husband asked me to return his call. He wanted to hear my voice and feel reassured, after seeing my chopped hair and the bathroom floor in the morning, that I was not going to then dye it and disappear out West.
Oldest child told me it looked like a rock star haircut from the late ‘80s or early ‘90s. Just to be clear, that was not intended as a compliment.
Change is a funny thing, isn’t it? I’ve done this whole dramatic haircut once before when we headed out to live on a tiny island in the South Pacific halfway around the world. I have no idea what triggered this more recent frenzy of shedding the hair, but I am facing a child going to college for the first time. Life is about to up-end me once again. Maybe it’s my way of getting ahead of it, taking some control, and rebelling. I’m not really sure.
I tell this story for several reasons:
1) I could not have predicted most of the reactions in my family, but I learned much about them as I took in their concerns and comments.
2) Each person responded differently.
3) I needed the change; it was a good, albeit, impetuous decision.
We often fear change. Certainly, huge adjustments like divorce, loss of a loved one, bad news, a crisis, a move, a new job, etc., require adaptation and often a grieving period. Change is not always desired. But as we persevere through either forced or chosen changes, we can use them as opportunities for learning about ourselves and those around us.
Playing pop psychologist for a moment, here is what I took in from my family:
I was playful and lighthearted.
My younger son was annoyed and wanted the reliability of the familiar again. I didn’t look like the mom who went to bed that night.
My daughter had other things on her mind and could not process at the time, but she was mostly nonplussed.
My husband was worried this was a breakdown or out of the norm for me. He wasn’t sure if it was a hint of more changes to come or an isolated decision.
My oldest son needed to put it in context to understand why I did it. It wasn’t awful, but he figured it was a haircut from my “era.” (This last one is a wild guess, to be honest. I could be completely wrong.)
Our changes affect others. They often come along for the ride. A haircut certainly isn’t going to rock someone’s boat other than a minute or two, but our decision to return to work or live somewhere new does.
How do the changes you are making right now impact those around you? Who needs you to pay attention and acknowledge the upset in routine?
Also, what changes are needed to continue improving your health, communication, relationships, faith in Christ, work ethic, etc.?
Here is the truth about change:
1) We change our minds—a lot!
Exodus 13:17, ESV
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt."
2) Times, culture, and circumstances around us can change.
Daniel 2:9, ESV
“If you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation."
3) God never changes!
James 1:17, ESV
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
4) He can ask us to change when He sees we need to reflect Him better.
Genesis 35:1-3, ESV
God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau." So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone."
5) He effects necessary change in our lives to accomplish His purposes.
Zephaniah 3:9, ESV
"For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.”
What changes is God asking you to make? Have you obeyed?
What changes has He required of you in the past, and if you followed through, what good came from them?
Can you think of a time God changed His character? (No, me either.) But if you think you can, have you asked Him to show you where this is not true…where the changing one was actually you, or perhaps a circumstance?
To feel anchored, we must be able to count on the One who will not fail us, who never changes. The Bible says this is true about God, so when change comes, we must learn to understand it in its proper context and lean on the One who is with us through transitions and trials, steady and true.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.