As a little girl I found my identity in my long, golden locks. Time and time again people exclaimed how beautiful my hair was. “Don’t ever cut it,” they said. Of course not; why would I cut my hair when it was my identifying glory? I was proud of my long locks and swooshed them back and forth to make sure everyone noticed them. My hair was me; after all, everyone told me so.
Just before entering first grade, my mother informed me that I was going for a haircut. Shocked and bewildered, I just stood there and stared at her. A haircut, how could this be possible? My hair was me. Without my hair I was nobody. My individuality would disappear and no one would like me anymore.
I worked myself into a frenzy. My mother was betraying me. Didn’t she understand what this would do to me? Gone would be her little girl with the long, beautiful hair.
I screamed and cried but my efforts were useless. I was marched to the neighbor’s house and thrown into her scissor-crazy, life-destroying, identity stealing, hands. As I sat on the stool, huge crocodile tears streamed down my face. She raised the scissors. My life flashed before my eyes. Then it happened! I heard that first cut and let out a death curdling scream. Unheeded, unloved, and mutilated, I sat there deflated as a punctured balloon.
She continued to slice and hack my hair until my blond tresses that once fell to the middle of my back now only reached to the bottom of my ears. My mother called it a “Pixie” cut.
No crying left in me; I stepped down from the stool and quietly followed my mother home. I hid in my room, not wanting to see anyone, or let anyone see me. Fear paralyzed me. Who was I now that my hair was gone? Would anyone recognize me? Would they want me as their friend? What would they say now that I was no longer the little girl with the long, beautiful hair? Would they call me names? Would they call me the little girl with the short, ugly hair that looked like a boy?
No amount of begging could convince my mother to let me stay home that first day of school. Not wanting anyone to see how much it mattered to me, I held my head high, chin in the air, and walked to school. Insecurity overwhelmed me.
Now the test, my friends ran towards me. It was the first they’d seen me since my haircut. At first they just stopped and stared. Then . . . my worst nightmare . . . they burst out laughing. One jokingly said, “Where’s Lisa?”
“It’s me,” I said, but the damage was done. Truly I was not the me that I used to be. Who was I now? And thus my first major identity crisis began.
What’s the big deal? How can a haircut change my entire perspective on life? To an adult, secure in their identity, it is no big deal. But to a five-year-old, it was confusing and unbearable. To this day, I think long and hard before getting a haircut.
Insecurity stemming from so long ago digs its ugly roots deep and it is hard to cast aside. Is my security found in my hair or in the way others think I should look? I would like to say, “Absolutely not.” But I can’t.
It is still a struggle to keep my eyes focused on where my real identity lies; in the person of Jesus Christ. The onset of menopause ignited those insecurities big time, when, for a few years, my hair fell out by the handful. My mind ran wild with worst case scenarios. I envisioned my self a recluse, lonely and bald the rest of my life! I can laugh about it now, but, for awhile it was quite devastating.
I know in my mind God is the only One I need to please. My heart fights that battle everyday. I have learned, as my faith matures, that my heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), and to follow my heart without first lining it up with God’s perfect Word leads to disaster. He only speaks the Truth to me. His Word tells me that “I am his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10). There is no shame or insecurity in that.
Your identity crisis may not have started with a haircut. Maybe it was something much more serious. Regardless the initial cause, God’s Truth remains the same for each of His children. “We have been bought with a price,” (1 Corinthians 7:23). That makes me special. That makes you special. In that knowledge we can hold our head high. Our identity is found in Christ alone. We are His! Nobody can take that away!