Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Pastor with Purple Hair

My hair is constantly changing.

My friend Bob shared my last blog post on his facebook page and included in his comment was “I think the world needs more pastors with purple hair.”

I’ll be honest and say that I am concerned about being judged over my hair. Though my fellow congregants remind me of how my hair is what makes me Julie and I agree, I wonder in what ways it could stop me.

Me outside my dorm room.
My relationship with my hair began in college. While most college freshman were partying, going out, drinking and all the other things that goes with that type of fun, I “acted out” and “experimented” with my hair. I would have my friend put pink streaks in my very otherwise boring hair. I thought it looked cool but hair dye from Hot Topic is not my idea of cool hair now.

After college when I had to get a real job the pink hair died. So then I began experimenting with all kinds of regular colors that I paid a professional to do; different styles, different cuts, different highlights, different streaks. I tried it all. I really wasn’t doing much self reflection at the time so I don’t really know why, other than it fit my personality because I get bored doing the same old thing.
Short with streaks.

When I was a stay-at-home mom and seriously doing my Mary Kay business, I started experimenting with the not so natural colors again but with professionals. I know one of the reasons were because I was starting to feel old and going back to my college years where I discovered myself made me feel young again. Another reason was because in Mary Kay we talked about image; how we never knew when a selling opportunity would take place and if you tried to run into the store without your Mary Kay on, you’d always get caught. It was then that I made sure to always be “dressed for success” when I left the house and I still continue to do so.

Brown with one pink stripe.
Now that I am more focused on offering God’s grace than offering someone a makeover, I still prepare as if I was going to makeover someone. I had to really reflect on why that it is so. Becoming a pastor is not about putting on a fashion show or being entertaining. What it does for me is to build my confidence in knowing that I am prepared to makeover one’s heart.
Black with blue stripes.
If I ran out of the house with no makeup and my hair in a pony tail, I would give myself an excuse to avoid others; to avoid getting caught in a conversation.

Blonde with purple and pink.
What I’ve found about my purple, teal, blue and pink hair is that it does two things. It starts conversations with total strangers and it sometimes leads to conversations that mean something to people. The other day, I met a parent at my son’s school who started talking to me about my hair but ended up telling me all about how she adopted her son and all the things he is struggling with.  The most important thing that I think my hair does is that it sends the message to others that I’m not going to judge; that I have an open mind and an open heart.
My fellow congregant,
JoAnne put a little
purple in her hair!

And if I’m right that this all starts because of my hair, this soon to be pastor with purple hair will keep on dying.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Saying Goodbye

The last time I spoke to my dad was on Christmas Eve. While we were there he was wide awake. My seven-year-old Aydin gave him more hugs than usual and talked to him more than he played his video game. I sat by his side and we mostly just stared at each other because I guess there wasn’t anything more to say. I know that all my dad wanted was for God to call him home. The next time I saw him, he was no longer responsive and by the 28th he quickly slipped away. I feel blessed that God took him before the dementia took his mind completely away from him; that he didn’t have to go through anything more than he already had. 

I still hurt. I hurt because it is one less person to love me. How selfish of me, but it’s true. In my selfishness, I’ve realized that I’ve been so concerned with how I love other people, I haven’t allowed or expected anyone to love me. On Sunday, I broke down twice. The first time Aydin came into my room to hug me and get me tissue. The second time, my nine-year-old Austin came into the kitchen and hugged me too. Later I realized that I feel like for the first time in Austin and Aydin’s life, they realized that I have feelings. The more I thought about it, I realized that I don’t think they are the only ones.

I realized that perhaps more people think of me as a “minister” already, a thought that never occurred to me before. Because in their attempts to console me, they were really just telling me about the grief they have experienced. And in response I am trying to give them encouraging words, when I really want to say is "I am hurting too." 

As I am trying to listen for what God needs me to hear, I realize that this life to come as a minister is going to be more of what I am experiencing at this moment. That I will be focused on loving other people and they will forget that I too have feelings. Perhaps they think I am God’s super woman and my faith is enough. Today there is no one who will call and ask how I am doing and will truly want a real answer, there is no one to sit by my side even if no words are said and there is no one to offer to bring over a meal so I don’t end up ordering take out for two weeks straight, and they certainly won’t be there tomorrow.  

Am I able to take on the life of a minister that loves her flock beyond what she will receive? I guess it seems as though I have already been living that life. God, I’m still listening.

Dad, I’m glad you are where you wanted to be, but I miss you. I miss how much you loved me.