Yesterday, I visited the hair salon. Entering one way and exiting another is always exciting. Sometimes it feels like I am a new person altogether. My stylist gently guides me into her chair, examines my hair, then explores how to transform my hair into the healthiest it can be. She walks me to the shampoo bowl, washes out all the dirt, brushes out all the tangles, and then conditions my hair to strengthen it at its very core. She then guides me to her station and cuts off strands that are damaged and unhealthy. Ready for a new look, my stylist then shapes and molds my hair into the final presentation she designs. Visiting the salon has been essential in maintaining the health of my hair, but it requires time, attention, and a commitment that I rarely submit to in other areas of my life.
The hair salon is not the only place in my life that has shaped a different version of me. My relationship with Jesus Christ started off similarly to my visits to the salon. I just showed up, and I liked what He was offering. He had a good reputation, and I had seen many other lives transformed by His hands. Initially, I was curious just how His power could work for me. I had heard that forgiveness and blessings also came along for the ride, but what I got was not what I expected. I signed up with Jesus for help with my problems, not help for myself.
Christ welcomed me into His family with open arms. Like a relative waiting at the door during the holidays, I immediately felt loved. He gently guided me through a washing that refreshed me in ways I’d never known. His love penetrated the deepest parts of my soul and cleansed me from the impurities that I had been carrying for a lifetime. I finally felt accepted. My burdens got lighter and my problems got easier, but a conflict rose in me I wasn’t familiar with. I wanted to be blessed, but I did not necessarily want to bless others. I wanted forgiveness, but I hated to forgive others. I wanted to surrender, but also, I wanted to stay in control.
My faith was weak, and it compromised my decision-making. My attachment to worldly things split me in two and it was damaging me. On the outside, I looked healthy, but the core spaces within ensnared me. And as He revealed and healed those broken places, I felt less tangled. He made some deep cuts, but I felt myself growing stronger in areas that were frayed. He strengthened me in ways I could have never done myself. God knew exactly what I needed and the steps He had to walk me through to get there.
Surrendering my crown to someone else was hard. The washing was a place of refreshing for me, but sanctification required a lot more of me than I wanted to give. Spiritual conditioning required me to relinquish control and trust His process. The more I held on to my will, the more He challenged me to let it go, and this required a level of faith that I was unaccustomed to. I had to learn how to trust my Father and put my life in His hands.
Still, I am a work in progress, but I show up; and the more I show up in His presence, the more different I look. I am grateful to be in the hands of the Master as he prunes off areas and strips away the things that hinder my growth. Some of my dead ends still need to be cut, but my faith is growing, and I am certain God has a plan. He knows the end from the beginning. And He knows exactly what He wants me to look like as He allows my purpose to take shape. I trust Him! I don’t look like I thought I would. I don’t act like I used to act. I don’t talk like I used to talk. It has been a process, but now I can see a newfound beauty in me being uncovered, and with each passing day I’m looking a lot more like my Father.
John 15:1-5 (NIV)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”