Monday, June 5, 2017

God, glory, and the baldheaded woman

“Shame. Embarrassment. Humiliation. Depression. All of these over a long period of time. My condition has gotten worse and I’m tired of trying to hide it, tired of all the time and energy wasted trying to hide my shame. So in an effort to declare myself free of this nuisance, I’m coming out.”

I wrote that on this blog on January 1, 2016, about my hair loss. At that time, I got my hair cut short, then went further into the Annie Lennox realm and had my hair bleached to within an inch of its life so the scarcity of hair wouldn’t be so obvious on my white scalp. It wasn’t enough. My hair continued to fall out and the shame continued.

I have alopecia, an auto-immune condition that has caused me to lose a lot of hair. The entire lower part of the back of my head is bald. That big bald patch is creeping up the back and sides and I have growing bald spots all over my head. After consultations with five different doctors over a period of time, I am faced with the fact that there is no cure for this and it is likely to continue.

A woman’s hair has been called her crowning glory. So much for that—no hair, no glory. But here’s the thing—it’s a real condition that I can’t pretend doesn’t exist, and somehow, I have to come to peace with it or live my life hiding in shame. It’s not just theoretical, not something I can ignore or wish away. This is my reality.

There’s a lump in my throat as I type these words. It sucks. But. The important stuff, the truth comes after the “but.” But somehow, I am going to find the strength, the confidence to face it full-on. The truth of this is that I can’t do anything meaningful without the strength of God so I’m leaning into Him, praying, putting my shame and heartache at His feet. I will walk proudly, my balding head shining in the sun. (Ugh!) My glory doesn’t come from my hair. I’m claiming His glory for my own, the reflection of His goodness inside of me.

Do I hide in shame or truly walk in freedom? I choose freedom. And I consider that the Lord doesn’t make mistakes. I have this and He will give me the strength and dignity to hold my head high. I expect that something meaningful will come out of it in time, something I can’t yet imagine. God can be found in all things, especially the painful things. His will is a gift that I can’t appreciate yet. So, I will wear this baldness with dignity, not shame.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an even shorter haircut, a buzzcut. I’m not even trying to hide the baldness any longer—it’s out there for anyone to see. I’ve been asked if I have cancer. Just yesterday a man at church asked me if I was getting “medical treatment.” Without being specific, friends ask how I have been with a telling urgency in their questions. It looks like the side effect of chemotherapy. I’m grateful that they are concerned about me but it’s obvious that I’m not hiding it well.

How do I feel about it? Sometimes weird, sometimes painfully ugly, yet sometimes bold and free of pretense. I want to see what the Lord is planning with this baldness in this life at this time. Forget the crowning glory. I just want it to be a reflection of His glory.