Very cool opportunity to write about going grey on The Huffington Post Canada blog! Have a read!
Yesterday, royal watchers celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. 63 years ago, HMQ first took her oath to uphold the laws of England and of God and to profess the true gospel. Then a crown was placed on her head, symbolising the honour and authority bestowed upon her.
Today, there’s another, less famous celebration of a crown of another sort, the second anniversary of growing out my grey hair. It all started with a tenacious little Bible verse that I couldn’t get out of my head.
Grey hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Proverbs 16:31 (NIV)
I wondered what I was missing by covering a physical trait that the Bible deemed honourable. I decided to carry out a two-year experiment to understand better both our cultural views and Biblical truth about grey hair by growing out mine. Continue reading
I’m trusting that the message would reach the hearts of those who need to hear it, that it would be a stepping stone to freedom from many women. We all have beauty stories. I’m taking a guess here, but they probably contain brokenness, hurt or confusion. Let God transform your story and find healing.
I have technically finished growing out my grey, except for 2″ of leftover colour on my shoulder length hair, which, for want of hair appointment, remains.
I can’t say I feel prettier with grey hair. But that was never the goal. Continue reading
22 truths that took me 42 years to learn… and, by all projections, a lifetime to perfect:
1. Get your sleep, eat well, go for a walk. These are the best first steps to solving what ails you. If nothing else, it puts your mind in a better place to tackle the problem(s).
2. Pay attention to the words of those who stammer, stutter or blush because they are spoken with courage.
3. Embrace your tears. Those who know me know I cry almost daily. One friend has taken to calling me “Tina Tears.” Their involuntary appearance STILL takes me by surprise and, truthfully, sometimes embarrasses me. But I’ve learned to welcome them. I was marked with them in my early 20s when I received Christ. In welcoming these tears, I’ve discovered that they are a good gift. Tears detect beauty, break down walls, open the heart, and speak grace. They adjust my eyes to see what Jesus wants me to see. When your tears make a surprise appearance, acknowledge this good gift.
4. Welcome interruptions. Like tears, most gifts from God are not the things we planned or expected. The things that were/are an interruption in my life: my husband, my kids, my friends, and, well, 42 showed up kind of suddenly… I can’t rightly say what good thing in my life wasn’t born out of interruption, even the things which initially seemed troubling. So welcome it all as God’s benevolence.
5. Banish offence. I believe it is possible to live a victorious life if we rid ourselves of offence. To qualify the term, I’m referring to when someone insults you either directly or indirectly, whether real or perceived. Root it out with prayer, kill it with kindness, walk through life unscathed and free.
6. Love others by keeping a record of rights. We know from 1 Corinthians 13 that when we keep an account of offences it is unloving behaviour. We like to either hold onto our offences and nurse them and/or throw them at others like a weapon once we’ve accumulated a good number of them. Is it possible to love by keeping track of, placing importance on, and speaking of the good things we see in others? I tried it. Suddenly, my husband is the most interesting man in the world, my kids are angels, I love Monday mornings, I have the best friends a girl could ask for, and I am saying hello to strangers on the street. Gratitude is the outcome when we keep track of the good things.
7. Practice good gossip. Get caught talking well about other people. (That Karen is so amazing. Bob sure throws a great party. Don’t you just LOVE our pastor? And so on.) Start a new trend in the workplace, build the joy in your home, revitalize your church through good gossip.
8. Asking for help is an act of generosity. Be specific with your needs and those who love you will thank you that you’ve let them in.
9. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” Guidelines for life and social media from Romans 12:15-16.
On parenting (teens)
10. “Good for you!” “Use your words,” and “Play nicely” remain solid parenting principles well into the teen years.
11. Your teens actually do want to spend time with you. Force adventures on them, even if they resist. Do things together that make you hold your breath, use your muscles, tempt fate (within reason), laugh out loud. You’ve all just received a shot of perspective and joy. Now repeat.
12. You are the boundary your teen needs to push against. Confirm for your teens that their home is a place where are they are safe to wrestle and doubt. Parents, this is Part II of your labour pains. There will be great rejoicing at the end of it.
13. Parents of teens, you will need to add a sense of humour to your arsenal. No doubt about it, your kids will laugh at you, but if you join in, it means they are laughing with you. Believe me, they’ll show you just how funny you didn’t know you are!
14. Making the bed together is the best first thing to do each day. Bravo, you’ve accomplished something together. Now go, rock this day. It’s the two of you against the world. I also highly recommend unmaking it together at the end of the day, if you catch my drift…
15. Dissatisfaction is never the other person’s fault, it belongs to you. Once you identify this truth, you can save/build/enjoy your marriage by ending the blame cycle and attending to the necessary changes in your own heart.
16. This one is for the wives. I’ve learned this little tip over time. (Don’t tell J-M, but it works like a charm). Whatever question you want to ask of your husband, ask it three times. This is what it takes to get: 1) his attention, 2) the jokes out of the way, and 3) his real response. Try it and report back to me. We might be onto something.
17. Lighten up. If I may generalize, I think this is one of the brilliant things a man adds to a marriage – an easy going perspective. Women can place such importance on their deep thoughts and over-processing the minutiae. If men and women are polar opposites in their thinking, perhaps the truth can be found in the happy medium. Emphasis on the happy.
18. Faith is our spiritual muscle we must activate and exercise or else we become ineffective and unproductive. Train like an athlete. Digest good nutrients (truth). Work it off with strength training (service). Don’t get spiritually obese by only taking it in and never putting it to use. Don’t run yourself dry by always serving and never replenishing your reserves. And, just as importantly, rest once a week.
19. Worship God completely. Like, use every part of you – your voice, your strong legs, your wingspan, your thoughts, your heart, your eyes, your touch, your gut – to love and praise him. Discover how he wants to heal and restore every inch of you.
20. Thank God for the activists. They increase our proximity to the heart of God. They help us see and love the poor, the needy, the abandoned, the destitute, the lonely. So next time you see an activist coming, don’t squirm in your EZ chair, receive their good intentions and consider how you might take action with them.
21. Trade in Karma for Grace. Jesus paid what you owe. Best deal ever.
Final Word (For Now)
22. Seek after beauty. I have spent the past two years trying to understand what beauty is, where it comes from, where it can be found, who owns it. I can say with great joy that there are very real answers to these important questions. They all lead to a Creator God who decided that beauty is the way in which he would communicate his message of love and truth. Look for beauty, find God.
Related Post: 40 years to learn
This is my brother, Mark.
He thinks it is a terrible idea for me to go grey.
I’ll give you a sec to think that one through.
I asked J-M if it would be wrong to post Mark’s picture, seeing as I’d be ungraciously outing him for an obvious double standard. J-M paused, then suggested I should add arrows.
Now we’re talkin’! Like this?
This guy thinks I shouldn’t go grey. He says it’s a TERRIBLE idea.
Interestingly enough, it’s only been over the last few weeks that I’ve discovered just how much I am greying like my brother, with those J. Jonah Jameson silver temples.
That has been an interesting part of the experiment, realizing what weirdos your hair follicles are. The right side of my head is much whiter than the left. There are parts that are mostly brown (at the back) and only a little bit of salt with the pepper at the top of my head and bangs. If I had a brush cut, I’d look like my bro, but since I wear my hair down and long, it hides the grey underneath and it confuses people. Sophia suggested I tell people I’m going mousey greyish brown instead.
I have turned a corner since my last update. It happened quite by surprise when a friend tagged me in this article showing 26-year-old actress, Zosia Mamet, who decided to colour her hair “antique grey.”
I don’t even know who Zosia Mamet is. Wait, now I do, I just Googled her.
That’s another side effect of aging, I don’t recognize anyone on magazine covers anymore. While I’m in line at the drug mart, People Magazine tells me they’re famous, so they must be. But as far as I’m concerned they just look like the girls who go to my kids’ high school. Mallory, isn’t that girl from your math class? You should tell her to put on a sweater. I feel a small comfort when I see Julia Roberts or Jennifer Aniston in the magazine stands – yes, I recognize these people – and Oprah’s a constant, so that puts me at ease.
Anyway, Zosia’s new hair has made her a little more famous in the middle-aged circles as this article was shared around Facebook. My first reaction was, “No, no, no, no, no, no! Grey does not belong to the young! She has not earned this!”
Crazy, right? Since last month I was sad-ish about it and this month, I’m defending it as a prize. My reaction showed me that I do indeed believe that grey hair is a treasure, only for those who have been through some significant years of experience. Through such experiences, we have also received stretch marks, wrinkles, minor sun damage, and, hopefully, a bigger, better understanding of the world around us and our place in it. Grey hair is an honourable, outward expression of our inward maturation. (Wow, does it feel good to feel good about grey hair again.) But when young adults or teens colour their hair grey it feels like a white lie.
But if that’s true, if the young do not “deserve” Gun Metal Grey, do the middle-aged deserve the Medium Roasted Chestnut or Luminous Honey Golden Blonde? I suppose fair’s fair – we started this, borrowing from our youth, we can’t be upset if the young want to mimic old age. Perhaps we should be complimented.
Then, another friend sent me this article that grey hair is an actual, bona fide trend for 2015!
I let myself become thrilled that I might be TRENDY. I encouraged my baby sister to go grey too!
“Becky! What do you think! Everybody’s doing it!”
“I told you, I don’t have any grey,” she said.
“Oh no! Poor you!” I said.
I’ll let you know she is also against my growing out my grey, but posting her picture doesn’t have the same effect as posting my brother’s. But she’s still cute, so… here.
Now I’m starting to see this in a couple different ways. When grey hair goes trendy and the starlets and young ones try it on for size, it could actually be a good thing as it puts a premium on grey hair, perhaps a small improvement from when we were collectively devaluing it (if not for others, than for ourselves). Maybe it gives us the push we need to explore it for our own heads or embrace it when our friends/siblings do.
After reading the Zosia article, I contacted my hair stylist. “Barb, can we do something about this? Can I just colour my hair grey??” I was elated to think that I could cut out the time-dragging part of this experiment and move straight to trendoid!
Barb is not only the best cutter and colourist, but she is a good friend and I’ll tell you why. She asked very tactfully if it wasn’t important for me to go through the whole process? She could do it – strip my hair and then add a fashionable granny grey toner to it… but it wouldn’t match my current hair growth, of which I have already put in seven long months. More importantly, it might be skipping a valuable process – the learning that only comes with the experience of growing it out. I was trying to skip out on the meaningful stuff.
Wasn’t she kind to remind me of that? To actually turn me down so that I can reach my goal for my hair and for my soul. It’s selfless really.
You know, another time (more recently than I like to admit), I asked her if I should get a perm and she didn’t laugh at me. She’s a keeper.
So this is me, with my mousey grey brown hair roots and J. Jonah Jameson temples hiding underneath, at 7 months.
By the way, that’s my friend Sharon with me in the pictures on the right. She is my exact same age and not a stitch of grey. Poor thing.
As of today, it has been six months since my last colour appointment. Six months since I made that fateful decision to grow out my grey. As an experiment, I said. It’ll be worthwhile, I said. Oh, if I could talk to the six-months-younger me now.
I’d say, listen, you young, innocent thing. Enjoy those breezy ponytail days when you could toss your hair in the wind without a care and your biggest worry was whether you should get highlights or lowlights, cut your bangs on an angle or straight across. What you think are “bad hair days” are really just “hair different days” – no one says your hair should have body every day! Drink in the compliments about your colour and highlights, even if that colour doesn’t really belong to you. You still wear it well! (And that summer tan helps too!) Straighten that hair, curl it, braid it, pin it, scrunchy it, but promise me, six months younger self, that you will EMBRACE your colourful locks. Fear not what’s ahead (but don’t look forward to it either). Continue reading
At noon on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, I announced to my hair stylist that this would be my last visit for colour. I’m growing out my grey.
She was understandably horrified.
This is not a decision I’ve arrived at flippantly. In fact, I commit to (and make public) this decision with knee-knocking fear and a boat-load of doubt.
Let’s refer to my hair stylist as “Barb” …because that’s her name.
Barb figured I had a good reason to make this big decision and she became willing, after a while, to hear it. In essence, it’s a two-year experiment to help me understand both the Biblical view and our culture’s view of grey hair. I could – and will – interview those who have gone through this process, but I also want to experience this myself. How will this affect others’ behaviour towards me, how will I feel about myself, will it increase the generation gap between me and my daughters, what will my husband think when I look 10+ years his senior… etc. etc.
I want to challenge what up till now has been a *need* to cover my grey. I can’t help thinking, once again, there’s a better way.
As I said in my previous post, I am on a quest to discover/develop a foundational understanding of beauty. I know it’s important to God because he has breathed wisdom into scripture on the subject of beauty… and hair is a big part of the beauty equation.
Our culture has equated beauty with youth and doing everything we can to maintain it. This means we’re fighting a losing battle from the get-go because – newsflash – none of us will stay young. It’s actually impossible. And yet, we are continually “anti-aging,” putting on the aforementioned creams, getting surgery, colouring our hair, resenting inevitable signs of aging, hating ourselves for not living up to an impossible ideal.
The Bible gives a place of honour not only to the aged, but specifically to grey hair.
Proverbs 16:31 (MSG) says, “Grey hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life.”
It’s honourable to have grey hair. It is an award, a mark of distinction. Some translations call it a crown of glory and splendor.
Why do I have a standing appointment to cover up my crown of glory every 4 weeks? I want to grow out my splendor.
I expect this will be a painful process because, as my friend Marguerite, who has done this already, says, “It gets ugly before it gets better.” And I don’t know if I can yet claim the better part.
So I make sure to soak in the lasts of my colour appointment with Barb. The cold paint on my scalp, being forced to relax for 45 minutes while the colour takes, the luxurious shampoo and head massage…
As Barb works her magic one final time, we talk about beauty. It’s a complicated thing because where is the line between caring about your appearance and vanity? I honestly can’t say at this point.
Barb says she isn’t against aging. “Aging is beautiful!” She’s generally against plastic surgery, but – don’t tell anyone – would be open to getting botox herself. She feels she has a wrinkle developing in her forehead that she thinks makes her look angry and it’s reflective of something she’s not.
Except I can’t even see the line she’s talking about.
She thinks I’m too young to go grey. Underneath Barb’s fabulous, funky burgundy hair, she is covering her own head of grey hair – she went prematurely grey in her 20s. She leaves me to let the colour take and to contemplate her use of the word “premature.” I was in my 20s too when I started going grey. Wonder how many of us there are.
As I pass the time, I pose the question on Facebook, “For those of you who colour your hair, have you ever considered going grey?” The responses come fast and furious and a complete range of answers. (Oh, y’all didn’t know your comments were fodder for my blog?) Here is a sampling:
- Nope! Hair dye is ‘in our budget till death do we part’!
- Have thought about it many times because of cost but nope “grey” is not one of my colours.
- …have always hated the inequity of the sexes when it comes to youthfulness…one of these days, I just might give the world the finger (the male half anyway) and do it…if my daughter was 20 and not 2, I might consider doing it sooner….until then it is Loreal #51…
- NO! I’m going to fight the grey hair until I’m too old to go buy the box of colour!! Even then, I’ll make one of my kids go get it. Of course vanity and societal expectations keep me from taking that step. And, well, I just don’t want to look older.
- If we all did it, we’d prove that aging gracefully has nothing to do with hair colour!
- Um … you first.
Also, can you imagine the conversations we’ve had at home about this? My family is absolutely sick of me. J-M has reluctantly agreed because, I’m guessing, a happy grey-haired wife is better than a frustrated brunette. Mallory says she’s OK with it except she resents having to explain to her friends when I have 6″ roots that her Mom’s not really that weird. Sophia’s answer gave me pause, “I don’t want you to look so old that I won’t relate. I’m afraid I’ll notice all the old things about you rather than all the fun, young things.” I can’t say that won’t happen, but I want to challenge that because – and this is a theme for another post – what makes us think old is negative?
Barb unveils my colour for the last time. I think it’s fitting that I’m “bronde,” neither blonde nor brunette. I document the event. Barb is definitely forcing her smile.
As I pay ONE FINAL TIME for hair colour, I tell Barb – and Kristin at reception – “You know and I know that mid-winter is going to hit hard. I’m going to have half a head of grey roots and an extremely depleted self-esteem. When I come in and desperately say either cut it off or colour it all…”
Barb interjects, “We’ll be strong for you… even if we don’t want to be.”
It would be interesting–horrifying?– to discover exactly how many “beauty” messages we are subjected to every day from advertising alone. The general consensus is that it’s in the thousands. And if we know anything about advertising, whether specifically for a beauty product or not, it relies heavily on “beauty” and “sex” to sell. (Which goes to say, we are told thousands of times, daily, what beauty is and should be.)
We know this, right? Media literacy was part of our school curriculum growing up. I can remember dissecting a page from a Sears catalogue to see the 101 ways they used sex to sell a twin set!
Even with such awareness (and in some cases, hype), I believe I have become an unwitting adherent to the dogma of beauty as it has been presented to me in all its printed and digital media over the past 40 years. Without thinking, I’ve wanted to buy what they’re selling; namely, eternal youth, flawless beauty. Give it to me.
I am in cahoots with beauty ideals from media as truth – mixed with the formative messages I’ve received via my family, friends, and the current cultural norms. They yoo-hoo at me and I follow. These ideals are what motivate me every day to style my hair, put on makeup, and select my clothing (or gripe when “I don’t have anything to wear”). They are what make me colour my hair every four weeks to hide the ever-creeping grey. They are what have me buying and applying decadent creams with Glycolic Acid and Retinol and AHA and any other anti-aging chemicals I’ve been told I should slather on my fine lines and sun-damaged skin. I hoist the anti-aging flag!
At the same time, I am deeply discontent with this “truth.” It would have me dread every passing day as my treasured youth pulls away from my grasp simply because I’ve lived to see another day. It would have me begrudge certain physical traits I was born with and others I’ve “earned” over time.
Oh, and let’s talk about “earning” signs of aging because here comes the pendulum swing. There’s that defiance we muster up when we just can’t keep up any more. We ask to a sympathetic ear (ourselves), “How long must I fight this losing battle?” Or we declare, “My wrinkles are my war wounds!” We become aggressively, falsely proud of our slowing metabolism and sagging skin. Fine, we’ve been found out! That’s how we wanted it to be anyway! Ha, fooled you, I’m not young and I don’t want to be! (Not today, anyway, mostly because I can’t be.)
All the time we’re receiving these messages of beauty, we’re doing the tough (albeit subconscious) work of categorizing them or embracing them obsessively or discarding them aggressively.
Thousands of messages, coming at us daily, telling us who we should be and what we’re worth.
Dare I say, there has got to be a better way!
This is a recent track I’ve been on, looking for the foundation of my own dissatisfaction, trying to figure out where the truth resides. All this searching has me getting excited (uh oh, there’s that word I like to use!) about what I’m learning.
That is, God actually cares about beauty.
We tend to relegate discussion of beauty to the shallow end of conversation and things to think about. But God’s got a beauty message for us to rival all the others, one that runs deep and brings healing. I don’t know about you, but that’s SUCH a relief to me.
So I say we look into this. By the fact that God has written about this, we are invited to adopt a foundational, God-infused understanding of beauty. I want to be beauty-marked with this understanding, so that it becomes the filter by which I see myself, others, and those thousands of messages coming at me everyday. This new and true understanding could and would have the effect of making swift work of our insecurities by settling our minds about where true beauty/our worth is found, and–importantly–what that looks like.
Over the next little while (weeks? months?) I’ll be exploring the topic of beauty/physical appearance from a biblical perspective. I hope you’ll dig deep with me!
There’s less than one week till my 40th birthday. Oh, have I mentioned that already? Well, anyway, it’s on Friday, October 25th. I’ll give you a moment to mark it on your calendar.
I’m making a big deal of it. Since the beginning of the month I’ve been talking about it all over the place, reminding my friends and family daily about this upcoming milestone. Perhaps over-celebrating it will reduce the impact when those big numbers – in Roman numerals that’s XL – actually hit.
Physically, I’m noticing my age. Not just on the surface, like wrinkles and age spots, but functional things like failing eyesight and a chronically sore left knee.
But I’ve recently come to view the aches and pains not as a sign of what’s to come, but as the sign of transition. This is what trade-off feels like. Wisdom for beauty via pang, spasm and twinge. And that’s when I realized that I am going to be A-OK with 40.
Because (a) I never had this beauty thing down, certainly not in my teens.
And (b), I was a foolish young woman with regrettable behaviour. It’s taken me 40 years to learn some very important things, things I wouldn’t trade for the world. And they’ve come with age and most often they’ve come via heartache. Strangely, it’s resulted in a gift worth more to me than gold and I wouldn’t give it up for minimized pores or rocking skinny jeans.
At 40, I understand I get to be obnoxious, correct? So indulge me as I share 20 things that took me 40 years to learn. 20 things I didn’t know at 20… because I hadn’t yet had the full experience of it (which can mean doing it the wrong way one or a few times).
1. Life is meaningless without friendship. Therefore, work to keep the friends you have (especially your family) and be a friend to those who need one.
3. .Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you’ve won. I’ve bolded that because this was the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned – which cleansed our marriage – with a fantastic back story of turmoil and tension and those words coming from John-Mark’s mouth toward me. My insistence on being right (and trying to correct what was “wrong” in him) almost tore our marriage apart. It is much preferable to win in marriage than to be “right.”
4. A nap is often the best remedy for an argument. If you feel grumpy, critical, negative, go to bed already, then we’ll talk. Again, J-M’s words to me.
On Church and Ministry
5. Church can be so very ugly… and breathtakingly beautiful. On this side of eternity, it’s a holy mess. But at its best it’s a foretaste of heaven.
6. The key to loving the church is realizing that we are the church.
7. Hope for everything, expect nothing. Hope keeps you encouraging, challenging, and loving others. Having no expectations takes the weight off your shoulders and keeps you from taking it personally when others have their own unique journey of faith…
8. Use your gifts. God has equipped believers in a unique way to be a part of the church. How thrilling when you discover that he can use you. Also, let others use their gifts. Sometimes stepping away from ministry so that others can step in is the right decision.
9. It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. There is nothing you have done that (a) he doesn’t already know about; (b) he won’t forgive.
10. There’s no more important thing to learn than forgiveness. God has forgiven you, you must forgive others. Walk in it, practice it daily. How about this – PRE-forgive! This is love.
11. We need others on this pilgrim’s progress – the faithful, the hopeful, the charitable – to teach us, to make the load lighter and the journey a joy. To seclude yourself is to weaken your faith.
12. God’s promises are not the mantra of the happy, they’re the lifeline for the suffering.
13. Neglect produces independence. Let me qualify this tongue-in-cheek statement – it’s about life skills. Let’s say that you forget to make your child’s lunch one day, they will most likely choose to make it themselves the following day. If you don’t pack their favourite PJs for their sleepover party, they’ll want to do it themselves next time. If they run out of underwear because you haven’t yet done the laundry, they may choose to learn. HYPOTHETICALLY of course.
14. Never refuse a request for a hug from your child. Never, never. You can’t over hug. Drop everything to give the hug. And force hugs on them from time to time, even when they don’t want them.
16. Your example will be the most powerful lesson for your kids, so love well, fight fair and make your bed too.
17. In order for truth to be the strongest voice in your head, immerse yourself in it. Preferably daily.
18. You must put your time in the trenches. The most mundane task, done well, leads to growth and opportunity. Everything is useful.
19. Never make a decision based on fear or solely on money. That is for those who feel they have no choice. One’s choices should be life-giving.
AND FINALLY (FOR NOW)
20. Stay curious. It is the remedy to many things, such as boredom, ignorance, and self-consciousness, to name a few.
Of course there’s a whole bunch more, like HAVE FUN, READ LOTS, GET REST, TRAVEL, but I’ve got my forties to beat you over the head with them. ;)
And so, believe it or not, despite my ranting, I’ve come to appreciate 40. Not because it’s “fabulous” or “the new 30.” Because it reveals a gift, given through the fine lines and grey hairs. There is great value in them.
Although… I’m still inclined to cover up the evidence.