Over the past five years I have grown my hair out and cut it off on more than one occasion. And, like yesterday, when it is long I sometimes get asked, “What is the deal with your hair?”
My normal response is that my wife likes it, which is a true statement and one part of the motivation. In fact, it was most of the motivation initially. Whereas I, once upon a time, would not have considered my wife’s preferences about such things important (because I would weigh business demands and the like as more important), I have learned in the past 7 years how much I lacked respect for my wife. I often failed to let her desires influence my decisions. Thankfully, I have learned how foolish and unloving I was in this. God didn’t give me an amazing and godly wife for me to ignore her heart and opinions.
Even having said that, I have learned another reason why my hair is long.
The first time I grew it out I was overseas. It was already ponytail length by the time I returned to the United States. When I came back, for the first time in my life I had a tangible awareness that many people who did not know me at all received me in a different way. I saw people walk further away from me if we were meeting on a sidewalk. I was more often asked for identification, stopped in the airport for patdowns, and even people who knew me asked me why I had such long hair. It seemed to impact my influence with many.
In that place God spoke to me about my own prejudices. I began to recognize more quickly when I made a judgment about someone. I even realized that sometimes I looked down on a person with long or oddly colored hair! I saw where I had subtle, repeat thoughts about individuals with tattoos, piercings, extra weight, what I considered to be odd clothes, and more.
I’m not sure I would have been as quick to see my judgmental heart had I not been the recipient of judgment based on something as trivial as my hair length. I wholeheartedly believe God led me to grow my hair out so that I would be reminded of the deceitfulness of my own heart in this area. Honestly, because I am too quick to want to please people and fit in, I often would much rather just cut my hair and not even think about the issue. And, I recognize that some of the issue is simply me thinking I know what others are thinking. Nevertheless, I am thankful to have a reminder of how much prejudice hurts and how it can prevent me from loving someone from the very first moment they walk into my life.
I don’t know when I will cut my hair again, but even in such a “small” matter I hope I listen not to the world or my pride, but to the Lord.