“Why did you decide to cut your hair?”
It’s been the first question out of everyone’s mouth ever since 15 inches of copper-red hair fell to the floor around the salon chair.
“A girl’s hair is a very personal thing,” I say. “You’re not making small talk when you ask that. So let’s pretend you didn’t say anything, and you decide if you really want to ask that question.”
Abrasive, I know. I only say it because I know they’re not ready for the answer. There in the grocery line or filling an appetizer plate at a party, I know they don’t want to hear, “My fiancé left me.”
Two years and two serious relationships. Two times I’ve started looking for venues. Two times for flowers and dresses and… yeah, hairstyles.
Have you ever daydreamed about what you’d look like on your wedding day? Long white dress, silk and lace, flowers woven into the hair spilling around your shoulders. I couldn’t do it anymore: imagine the wild mountain backdrop, blowing gown, and smiles so large they hurt.
Holding on to that princess hair for a dream that wasn’t coming was like standing in learned helplessness beside a burning house. Except the house was my heart, and it was going to end up as a smoldering pile in the floor of my chest.
Holding on to my hair was a symbolic readiness, hoping the man named “Forever” would come soon.
I loved my long hair – it’s been long almost my whole life. But one day the weight of the stuff hit me. The effort it took to maintain something that was outwardly defining me to the world. A thing that spoke before I did. It was heavy and exhausting. And look at all those dead ends. Dead dreams. Why would I carry them every day, there to present to the world, to hold in my hands, to groom and care for? Things that were dead.
There’s a physicality to our emotions and our spirit that we as westerners don’t always acknowledge. Made in the image of God, we’re integrated beings. We harbor emotions and beliefs and inheritances in our body.
It’s a powerful thing to submit your physicality to the grace of Jesus’ healing and redemption the same way you would your spirit. You cry in sadness to the Lord and pray for heart-healing, but I sometimes wonder if there can be complete healing if the places those hurts dwell in your body don’t also release their hold? All of you longs to be submitted to the will of Christ.
So I cut my hair. Not because God told me to. Not because it was symbolic (though it was). I cut it because it was a spiritual act of surrender. Of worship. Cutting it off was my body declaring alongside my spirit, “I trust my dreams to you, Lord. I am not a vessel of dead things. I don’t carry death with me. I am new. Renewed. Free.”
And open to new dreams. It’s not that my God-given dream to be a mother and wife is dead. It’s that the specific futures with the men I’d planned with were. And I needed to yield those plans I had made – and now grieved – to the good heart and hands of the Father.
Sometimes it’s spooky to look in the mirror and not immediately recognize the girl looking back. But in a way, I recognize her more when I look with the eyes of God. She’s free and whole and not her own. She is surrendered in all her ways and plans and hopes. And she is loved without restraint or end.
words by Delaney Kochan and photo by Sara Beth Pritchard