Have you ever experienced something for so long, you forgot what life was like before it? Seriously. Like when you didn’t have aches and pains in your joints after working a long day, or when you didn’t have bills? When you didn’t have children? Or what it was like as a single person? When certain family members were alive? Or when you were perfectly healthy? These are all desirable things that as an adult you may reflect back on.
I remember vividly, around 5 years old when my hair began to shed. My mother began to grow weary at the sight of it, especially since my other sister experienced the same thing. “It’s probably the braids you put in her hair, or the fact that you had her at an older age,” my pediatric doctor determined. “It’ll grow back” was always her response. All I knew was that my hair in certain areas of my head was drastically falling out and I began to stand out from the rest of my peers. I remember writing my Christmas list and asking God to help it grow back. It was just depressing to say the least.
Nonetheless, my parents were avid church-goers, and as a family we attended weekly Sunday School followed by what felt like a daylong service. Oh yes, I am a preacher’s kid. So you already know how that goes. One Sunday morning my class discussed the lesson for the day, which was the story of Samson and Delilah. In the book of Judges (chapters 13-16) Samson, an Israelite warrior, was known for his prodigious strength that derived from his uncut hair. He was swoon by his wife Delilah, a philistine woman, when he revealed where his strength came from. She was unaware that he was given to God as a child, and was forbidden to drink wine or cut his hair while the vow to God was upon him. If he cut his hair, the vow would be broken and he would ultimately lose his strength. A sneaky and nosey wife she was, she pushed and pried until he soon revealed his secret not knowing that his enemies were using his wife to gain control over him.
No need to ponder over what she did soon after because you already know she shaved off his head (Heffa) and he immediately lost his strength! Samson was imprisoned for some time which gave his hair ample chance to grow and when he did he prayed to God that he would give him his strength back one more time. Fortunately, God showed favor and he was able to free his people, but it was at the mercy of his own death. Tragic story for a kid to hear right?!
The only thing I took away was the fact that his strength came from his hair and without it he was weak. Even at a young age I felt that I understood his struggle. In my mind, without my hair, I didn’t think I’d be beautiful. I cringed at the idea of losing more of my own long, gorgeous, curly locks. I thought that without it I’d eventually lose my confidence, my self-love, my strength and my beauty. Talk about adolescent stress!
Over the years, my hair has progressively grown out and as long as it has ever been in my lifetime! But just when I was ready to post my “won’t God do it” status on my Facebook, I hit a rough patch in life filled with consecutive disappointments, deaths, let downs and depression, which I believe kick started my hair loss again. Of course the still, small voice that sounds a lot like the young version of me wants to get ready to crawl in a bubble and hide myself. But surprisingly, each day instead of growing weary as my hair sheds, I dive more into learning about my hair, researching natural remedies and somehow still taking a moment to thank God for creating something so beautiful and perfect in his vision.
It’s amazing how we run away from the things that scare us or make us uncomfortable. The things that we believe could potentially strip us of our own identity. When in fact, it is the adversity that we fearlessly chose to face head on that propels us into the place and space that we were always meant to be. In these moments, we usually learn who we truly are and have the capability of becoming.
The same circumstances that I thought would break me has shown me to be stronger, more confident and unapologetically in love with the woman that I am becoming more than ever before. This is not a sad ending at all. In fact, it’s a happy one. (Sorry to all my Debbie Downers)
As India Arie would say “I am not my hair.” But I am also not quite Samson.