All of us have rough edges, places in our lives that need smoothing out. Let me offer a superficial example. Most women I know have little difficulty finding something negative to say about their hair. I have more excuse than most because I have what some people kindly call naturally curly hair. If left to go its own way, particularly in high humidity, my kind of hair is capable of inflicting psychic damage on small children. I know this because I once unwisely opened the door to neighborhood children who, seeing my untended hair, promptly exclaimed, “Wow, it’s the Bride of Frankenstein!”
Last week I tried an expensive shampoo, touted to calm frizzy hair. What I didn’t know was that instead of smoothing out my hair, it acted as a volumizer. Imagine someone seriously overweight donning a fat suit, and you will get an idea of how this product affected my hair. It brought back the earlier conviction that my curly-haired parents should never have been permitted to marry. Allowing two such people to mate, I am convinced, constitutes a form of child abuse.
Over the years I’ve found that using a flatiron helps the most. Sometimes I have trouble getting all the kinks out in back, so I simply do a few quick swipes on the surface and let it go at that. The problem with such a strategy is that the kinks beneath the surface insist on asserting themselves, exposing the pretense that I have soft, manageable hair.
What’s the point of my bad hair complaints? Simply that each of us has our own set of rough edges to work out. True, we can make some surface changes. But these don’t really deal with underlying character flaws that keep asserting themselves despite our most determined efforts to hide them. Willpower by itself cannot contend with problems like low self-esteem, a quick temper, stinginess, stubbornness, laziness, judgmentalism, and negativity. The only power strong enough to straighten out any twisted elements in our lives comes from God. Today let’s ditch strategies that depend only on us, so we can follow God’s strategies for growing in his peace and grace.