Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.
- Luke 12:6-9
As my development and healing continued, after I had children and had established myself as a husband and father, I was in the habit of cutting my own hair with an electric shaver. I never cut it all the way down, instead opting to use the plastic guide coverings over the shears that allow you to cut your hair down to the desired length.
One day, I accidentally forgot to put the guide on and put the shaver to my head. To my horror, I saw a perfect shaved rectangle right in the middle of my head. After calling my wife in to see if there was any way we could think of to fix it, we decided that the best thing for me to do was to shave my entire head.
I didn’t like it.
I always thought that baldness either meant getting old or looking really harsh. Nonetheless, I was stuck with the look, at least for the few weeks it would take for my hair to grow back to its normal length.
Then, a very strange thing began to happen.
I began to feel the Lord calling me in prayer to leave my head shaven. This was a little odd to me that the Lord of Heaven should be interested in my hair style. I mean, really, didn’t he have bigger things like poverty and war that He should be concerned about?
Well, throughout all my years, one thing I have learned over and over again is not to tell God how to do His job or second-guess his wisdom. The other thing I have learned is that the Lord cares deeply about all of us as individuals and knows all of the intimate details of our lives, even those parts of ourselves we would rather hide under the proverbial fig leaves.
So, I followed what I thought were his promptings and continued to shave my head each day. Of course the first one to notice this was my wife. When she asked me why I really didn’t have a good answer. I simply told her that the Lord had called me to it and that it was part of my healing as a man. Prayerful woman that she is, she accepted that. She didn’t like it but she accepted it.
As time went on, I began to change. I started behaving differently and even thinking differently. I used to think of myself as a sensitive and “unintimidating” guy. Now, I found myself not caring whether people thought that or not. I used to worry a lot about how people felt or if I had hurt their feelings or damaged our relationship by something I had said or done. That too, went by the proverbial wayside. I wouldn’t say I was mean or uncharitable, I was just not as sensitive.
And I liked it.
Others around me began to notice, too, particularly women. I was told many times and very nicely by female relatives, friends and co-workers that they preferred me with hair. I had no intention of making any change until the Lord told me to. One time, my wife asked me how long I thought I would keep shaving and I told her that I truly did not know but that the Lord would tell me in His good time. Interestingly, all the men told me how much they liked it and some would even affectionately rub my head.
People also began to notice the changes in my personality. I definitely was not as approachable as I used to be and people began to find me a little intimidating. I remember one particular time that I was working with one of my co-workers who asked me to complete a particular task at work.
When I agreed to it, she accidentally let it slip that other co-workers had talked about asking me but she was the only one willing to approach me. When I pressed here to find out what she meant and who had said it, she wouldn’t reveal her sources. Far from being upset about this, I actually enjoyed it.
I realized that because I was raised in a very female-dominated family and then chose a female-dominated profession, I had really nurtured that sensitive side of myself at the expense of my masculine side. Shaving my head helped me get back in touch with that lost part of myself. I needed to assert my own manhood, not in a boorish or dominating way, but in a way that had very clear boundaries around my masculine self.
This continued on until Lent one year. I saw a man I really liked. I found him attractive and masculine. His face had a hard edge to it that I found alluring. It wasn’t unkind, and he wasn’t what most would consider extremely handsome, but he had very clear eyes and the determined look of a man who knew who he was and was completely comfortable with himself.
He was the kind of man I wanted to be.
It took me a few seconds to realize that I was looking at myself! I looked in the mirror and saw my face and for the first time, after thirty-some years, I finally saw myself as God (and many others) had seen me all along.
I was the man I wanted to be.
More importantly, I was the man God made me to be, not the one I thought He should have made me to be.
I knew at that moment that I no longer needed the shaven head. The process had accomplished its goal. Even if my hair grew back, the Lord had brought to the forefront my masculine essence and I experienced it and made it my own. The shaved had was my own personal “coming out” to the world as a man, whether people liked it or not. Since I had done that, my outer appearance no longer mattered.
Once my hair began to grow back, I discussed the whole experience with my wife to get her insights on the whole thing. We have a terrific marriage, thanks to the grace of God, and one of the really great things that we do for each other is to analyze and discuss how we have changed and healed spiritually.
She affirmed my observations and said that she knew that what I was doing was from the Lord and that it would end when it had accomplished its purpose. She said that she thought it was like a pendulum and that the shaved head was kind of an “extreme” and bold expression of my masculinity, probably similar to what most boys do during their adolescence or college years in order to individuate from parents and the expectations of society in favor of the true man inside me. She predicted that over time I wouldn’t be quite as “edgy” and that the pendulum might swing back closer to what it was before, but with this new insight, I would never lost what I had gained.
She was right.
Up until that point, I had always felt like I was more or less playing a role when it came to my own masculine identity, I was adopting many of the trappings of masculinity and enjoying doing it, but I often felt like a little boy trying on his father’s clothes. They felt right and good but never quite fit right. Now, I felt the true freedom of knowing that masculinity is my own and I will never lose it again.
I have my own set of clothes.
They fit me well and they look great on me.
They are mine.