Tuesdays with Sarah… Gracefully Gray

With Mother’s Day being just a few days ago, of course my mom has been on my mind. If you didn’t know, my mom passed away unexpectedly April 1, 2013. Scott surprised me by taking me by her grave the Saturday before Mother’s Day. I know that she isn’t truly there, but I had been feeling like I needed to go visit the last few weeks, and I was so grateful that he took me.

Mom's Grave

Mom’s Grave

As I was standing there looking at her grave, I cried. Not that I want her to be back here on earth. That would be terribly selfish of me. I know she is no longer sick, lonely, or worried. She is in the presence of her Creator, Healer, Friend, and Provider. But I cried hoping that when she passed, she knew how much I loved her, respected her, and appreciated all she did raising me and my sisters, as well as the love, help, and advice she provided to me and my baby girls. It’s amazing how after you have children of your own, you realize what a superhero your mom is! Hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

And of all the things I could be thinking about at her graveside, the main thing I kept thinking about was her hair. Her beautiful gray hair. I think it’s because on the drive to the cemetery, I could see my own gray hair shining in the sun. It’s like over the past few months, my gray has decided to make a grand entrance.

Me, Mom, and Girls

Me, My Beautiful Gray-Haired Mom, and Girls

Oh, gray hair… I can’t figure out how I feel about it. Part of me looks at it and it makes me sad, reminding me that I’m growing old and am no longer a spring chicken. Most parts of my body definitely show that it has aged 38 years. But my hair?! I was always proud of the fact that I still had not colored my hair. That I was still a natural brunette with a few blonde highlights. My body may be out of shape, but my hair was rockin’ 🙂 Oh, but in 2015, it decided to betray me, and be yet just one more reminder that I am OLD.

On the other hand, I look at it and think of all the memories I’ve made in my 38 years of life. All the hair styles and cuts, perms and bangs, I’ve had over the years. I think of all the experiences I’ve been blessed to have in this life, and all the life lessons I’ve learned. All the times my sweet little girls pulled it when they were babies. Maybe gray hair isn’t so bad after all.

My gray hair showing out :)

My gray hair showing out 🙂

The other day, we were working out in the yard, and I had my hair pulled back. Scott said, in a very romantic and gentle way, “Wow, I can really see your gray hair when your hair is pulled back and you are standing in the sun like that.”  I decided to take this time to ask him what he thought about my gray hair, and what his opinion was about coloring it. Of course, he knew this was a dangerous question and he needed to be very careful in how he answered it. He gave the very neutral answer of, “It’s your hair. Do what you want to do with it. I’ll like it either way.” I told him I was leaning towards not coloring it, because it seems like a pain and something I’d have to start keeping up with. Plus, I had come across a few Facebook posts recently that said that having gray hair is the new trendy thing! People are actually dying their hair to be gray! It’s the hot look for 2015! So ha! I’m actually cool and trendy! Who’d have thunk it?!

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/life_and_entertainment/2015/02/20/1-gray-hair-becoming-hallmark-of-coolness.html

And if Facebook wasn’t enough proof that going gray is a good thing (please note those words are dripping with sarcasm), Scripture actually talks about how great gray hair is!

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. – Proverbs 16:31

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair. – Proverbs 20:29

So apparently gray hair is a sign of righteousness and splendor! Yes, please, sign me up for that!

As I continued to mull over the thought of coloring my hair, I remembered a fabulous true story that a pastor’s wife told me. One of the blessings of being in ministry in the Methodist church is you get to meet so many wonderful people due to itinerancy (pastors being appointed to different churches). One of my favorite pastors has been Bro. Stan Waldon and his lovely, gracious wife Marilyn. Scott was the associate pastor and youth pastor with Bro. Stan, and Mrs. Marilyn would take me to coffee every few weeks to just chit chat and pray.

Mrs. Marilyn and Bro. Stan Waldon and Their Precious Twin Grandchildren :)

Mrs. Marilyn and Bro. Stan Waldon and Their Precious Twin Grandchildren 🙂

She has to be one of the most genuine people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and a wonderful example of a pastor’s wife. She told me of a story about her own journey with gray hair that absolutely rocked my world. I asked her if I could use it for this blog post, and she graciously said yes. Because her words are so beautiful, I’m posting them exactly how she sent them to me:

It was my first (of what would be 5) trip to the mission El Ayudante in Leon, Nicaragua. The trip was with the United Methodist Church through their Volunteers in Mission program.   That week impacted my whole way of thinking in regards to how I live my life authentically as a child of God. I had never experienced such physical poverty in the midst of spiritual joy. One thing I did when I returned home was to cut up all my credit cards. Stan still says that it is the best investment we ever made. If I didn’t have the money for it, then I certainly didn’t need it.

Another thing I did was to ponder how to be authentic in my life. I saw just how beautifully made these Nicaraguan people were without the help of makeup, hair color etc. So I was convicted personally that it was time to give up some of these luxuries and face the real me.

I had been making a trip to a pricey Memphis hairdresser every six weeks for several years to cover the gray. I stopped. It was like a bird mottling. At the end of that year, I calculated the savings, and at the same time, I received a needs list from El Ayudante. I was amazed that for the exact amount of hair money I saved that year that I could build a HOUSE for a family. As a pastor’s wife, I have never owned a house and the thought of being a homeowner was enticing. So here was the ultimate decision. I have colored hair and this family lives in a black plastic lean-to OR I go gray and this family lives in a dry, concrete block house. I didn’t have to think long.

So in Leon, Nicaragua, a family lives safely while I enjoy the freedom of going gray! I call it the House built by Loreal!

Mrs. Marilyn's Loreal House!

Mrs. Marilyn’s Loreal House!

How can someone read that story and not be moved? Challenged? Compelled? Every time I think about Mrs. Marilyn and her beautiful gray hair, it makes me want to be a better person. An authentic person. A selfless person. And what I think is pretty amazing, and I chalk it up to God’s divine mathematics, is that the more we empty ourselves of ourselves, the more full and content we feel! It’s because He doesn’t leave us empty – He’s filling us up with Himself! And it not only fills us up, it frees us. As Marilyn described, she enjoys the freedom of growing gray! Trying to interfere with the aging process and cover it up like it’s not happening seems agonizing and stressful to me. Letting the aging process occur naturally is quite freeing! Fill me up and set me free!

Now please don’t take me the wrong way. More than 50% of my friends probably color their hair. Maybe even more than that. And I am in no way saying that you are a terrible person or are going to bust hell wide open if you color your hair! 🙂 But I just think – no, I know – that we should always have our ears open to what the Lord is trying to tell us. We all have different convictions about things, and for me, for now, I need to let the gray go. I hope for the sake of everyone I know and see on a regular basis, that He doesn’t ask me to give up make-up any time soon!!

As I have heard so many times during my lifetime, God looks at the heart. He is way more concerned about our inward appearance rather than our outward appearance. With that in mind, the good Lord probably doesn’t care whether we color our hair, wear makeup, or go to the tanning bed – as long as our hearts are pure, genuine, authentic, and following hard after Him. And when your heart is in that condition, you never know what He may ask of you. Who knows, you may end up building a house by Loreal 🙂

 

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