I was in that place where women go on the weekend to get their hair cut and colored, to cover the roots and dye the grays, to primp the curls and straighten the strands — the salon.
I was sitting there, scrolling mindlessly on my phone, when a woman came and sat in the empty chair next to me. She mumbled something under her breath and made motions with her hands. She spoke louder and then louder again. I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me or to someone else or if she was just speaking into the air.
So I ignored her and kept scrolling mindlessly on my phone.
I was tired, and I didn’t want conversation. I didn’t even want eye contact. I just wanted to get in and get out, just wanted to get my hair cut and be on my way. But the woman wouldn’t stop mumbling under her breath and pointing at all the other women and young girls in the salon.
So I listened. I looked away from my phone and paid attention to what she was saying.
“Her hair is so nice,” she said. “And just look at her over there — all you ladies are so beautiful, just beautiful.”
She pointed to a woman down the row and to a young girl sitting next to me.
“Just beautiful hair,” she said. “Everyone here has beautiful hair.” Then she finally slid into her chair and sat down to wait for her hair to be washed.
I caught a glance of her, noticing her long, gray hair and bronze skin, matured with wrinkles — map lines that told the story of her journey.
She was beautiful. She had nice hair.
And not only did she beam with beauty on the outside, but her eyes twinkled with a truth that came from deep, deep within.
Saturdays at the salon are sacred, is what she was saying. It’s where women and young girls gather together, all bearing bare faces and bare beauty. It’s a sacred place where they show up with their hair undone, unkempt, unruly, showing off every kink and curl and pin-straight strand. It’s where they sit, vulnerable, at the hands of another, who will wash the dry scalp and dirty hair. It’s where they expose the true texture of their hair — all the thickness and the thinning out, all the bald spots and every ringlet that’s been called bad.
When it was my turn, my hairdresser tapped me on the shoulder. She motioned for me to come and sit in her chair. Then she unwrapped the towel covering my hair and ran her fingers through my thick mane. She dried my hair, pulling a bristle brush through it, section by bulky section.
“I am beautiful,” I thought to myself. “Even now, in the middle of maintaining my mane.”
I smiled underneath my mask, looking around at all the other women and young girls. In my mind, I heard the echoes: Everyone here has beautiful hair. Everyone here has beautiful hair . . .
The truth about Saturdays (or Mondays or Wednesdays or Fridays) at the salon is that we are not only beautiful but we are also beloved and we belong.
God looks at each one of us and sees and loves everything about us — the width of our hips, the height of our body, the texture of our hair, the tone of our skin, the length of our eyelashes, the swell of our curves.
God cannot help but stand and point and shout and tell us that we are beautiful, just like that woman at the salon. He is always muttering and mumbling with His breath in our ears that we are His beloved and that we belong to Him, just as we are.
You may (or may not) be well into your New Year’s resolutions by now. You might have cut and colored your hair, stepped out in style, bought the bag or purchased the purse. You might be drinking more water and eating more vegetables. You might be moving your body more or counting your steps.
But, beloved, don’t forget that you are beautiful in your bareness. Don’t forget that you belong, just as you are. On the days or weeks or months when you feel like you are showing up undone, unkempt, and unruly, know that you do not have to primp and perfect yourself to be accepted and loved by others.
You do not have to primp and perfect yourself to be accepted and loved by God.
You can come and sit, with all your color and culture, all your hair texture and taste in style that makes you who you are. Without looking around to compare, without looking around to compete, you can come and be.
And in this season, if you are already comfortable showing up as you are, then perhaps look up from scrolling mindlessly on your phone. Look up to see and call out the beauty and belovedness of others. Make every space that you are in sacred by speaking words that reflect our Father’s loving embrace: Just look at her over there — all of you are so beautiful.
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