I finally did it.... I shaved my head on Sunday.
Like I said in my last post, when I went to see my doctor on Thursday, he was surprised to see that I still had a full head of hair. If I believed in jinxes, I'd definitely say that he jinxed me because two days after he made that comment, my hair started falling out in mass! I know many of you who saw me on Sunday morning would be surprised that I decided to shave off what looked like a full head of hair.... It was just too emotional to stand in the shower two mornings in a row and pull out handfuls and handfuls of hair. I even had to blow dry my hair while standing in the tub because so much was flying out! Two days of being upset in the morning and having to take extra time to do "hair clean up" after getting ready for the day (plus some great friends who promised to make the experience as painless as possible) was enough to convince me to take the leap. Besides, I knew that I wouldn't feel up to doing it this week right after treatment... and I knew that continuing to lose my hair so quickly would only compound how miserable I'll be feeling. So, after much struggling and deliberation, I finally decided to do the inevitable... and I found myself choking back the tears as I faced the clippers.
It turned out to not be that bad at all, though... I can't tell you how thankful I am for my friends who helped to actually make the experience fun in the end. They thought of every detail... from covering up the mirrors, to vacuuming all the hair off the floor before I could even see it, to making a "bald is beautiful" sign for me, to documenting the whole thing for future laughs, to simply smiling and joking with me through it. To those friends... saying thank you just doesn't seem to cover it. You may never know just what a blessing you were to me on Sunday! You helped me through a huge hurdle in this journey.
Now, here's the thing... I've never considered myself a vain person or even a girly-girl. In fact, I could probably be considered more of a tomboy than anything else. So, the emotions that came with the prospect of losing my hair were a real surprise to me. I found myself wanting to hold onto it as long as possible as fears and questions rampaged through my mind. Would I look ugly? Would I look even fatter than I already do? Would I look hyper-masculine? Would I look sick? Right up to a couple hours before actually doing it, I was still really wrestling with the decision. However, while praying during the Lord's Supper, though, a verse came to mind...
Matthew 16:24 ~ "Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."
The thought dawned on me, "What if Jesus were to ask me to take up my cross and follow him... and what if he said that the cross I would have to bear would be shaving my head? Would I do it then?" Almost immediately, I thought, "Yes... at least I sure hope I would!" So what's the difference? That stumped me for a minute, but then I realized something critical. If Jesus asked me directly to lose my hair, I'd do it willingly because it would clearly be for him; it would clearly be something positive. Yet, in my mind, to lose my hair as a result of chemotherapy points to something negative. It points to the fact that there is something wrong in my body. It points to the fact that I'm very sick (even though I don't feel sick). To lose my hair as a symptom of chemotherapy makes me feel like I'm succumbing to the disease of cancer! But is that really the case? Is it rather that this is just a part of the journey and another opportunity to trust God even more and learn even deeper truths of who I am, who he is, and how he cares for me? Hmm...
That brings me back to wondering - why did this hurdle bother me so much? It forced me to think again about vanity. Like I said, I've never considered myself a vain person or a girly-girl. I don't spend a lot of time trying to make myself look prettier and I don't worry a whole lot about fashion, etc. So, why would the prospect of being bald make me falter so? I had to ask a question I didn't want to... Is there more vanity in my heart than I realize? As that question arose in my heart, God immediately brought me to another Scripture -
1 Peter 3:3-4 ~ "Do not let your adorning be external - the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothes - but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious."
Wow! I've read that verse many times... I've even taught on it numerous times! But somehow in the midst of this hurdle, it hit me like never before. Even though I don't think I'm a vain person, I had to admit to myself and God that there really is some hidden vanity in my heart. It's right there, I just never saw it before. Truly, the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9)!
There's something inherent in all women. To some degree, beauty is important to us! I don't know a single woman who doesn't want to look good. Now, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. The issue is - where are we placing our hope and trust? Really think about it. I honestly didn't think I was trusting in my appearance to any degree, but obviously there was some hidden vanity in my heart that needed to be dealt with. So, I challenge you ladies to examine your hearts.... If to any degree (no matter how small), we find our value in our appearance or rest in our beauty to get what we desire, there's something seriously wrong!
"Charm is fleeting, and beauty is in vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." ~ Proverbs 31:30
As I sit here typing with my newly bald head, I'm coming to a new understanding of beauty. I'm realizing that my countenance, not my hair or my clothes, is what makes me beautiful... and that countenance comes from within. As absolutely silly as I think I look, I'm realizing that my inner beauty can outshine the shiniest of bald heads if I just find my joy in the Lord and let his Spirit flow through me during this crazy time in my life!