by Beth Foreman
Let’s talk about gray hair.
I first spotted gray hairs when I was in my early forties. It didn’t bother me then because I could pluck them, one by one. For a while. And my handsome husband has had gray hairs since the day I met him. But then they — who are “they” anyway? — always say gray-haired men look distinguished. Women, well, it’s not that simple. Or maybe it is.
By my mid-forties, I started covering the gray because when I looked in the mirror, I cringed. I’m getting old, I thought. I’m too young to be old. And to this day, I color my hair.
Much of this is driven by our youth- and beauty-obsessed culture.
Must of this is driven by my vanity.
Most of this is driven by my fear.
The gray hair means I am inching closer and closer to my final season of life. I may no longer be valuable. All those places I long to see. All the words I need to write. All the love I desire to give. Time is ticking. And maybe if I cover the gray, I can pretend that it’s going slower than it really is.
When I see the gray roots, I can cringe and scramble to get another appointment, to encourage an untruth. (Hey, maybe she’s in her fifties.)
Or maybe instead of cringing, I can see each gray hair as a reminder of eternity and then praise God.
Right here, right now, I’m floating in between those two perspectives. Cringe or praise. Or maybe I can do both. Cringe and praise. Now that’s a thought.
God’s truth in Proverbs 16:31 is most fitting here. “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” I am reminded of the Fourth Commandment. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12. God wants us to live long in this land. Yes. Yet because we live in this fallen world, that might not happen. So because I have lived long enough to gain some gray hair, then perhaps I shouldn’t hide that gift.
But I struggle: I’m not sure I’m ready for gray. I know so many women who lively joyfully with gray hair, and women who live joyfully with colored hair. One isn’t right and the other wrong. That’s not the point here. The question is — where is my heart in all of this?
And then I find myself in a puddle of tears as I realize who I have been listening to in all of this. The world. My stylist. Dear well-intentioned friends who tell me I’ll age ten years if I stop coloring my hair. I return to God’s Word and realize I have not talked to God about this. Ever.
So that’s where I’ll begin again today in prayer to the One who created me and knew me before time began. He knew I would stare into the mirror and wonder if I should cancel my next hair-coloring appointment. He knows I won’t have the answer right away.
Still, I examine my heart, seek His forgiveness for being too concerned with my reflection in the mirror, and trust.
Cringe and praise. Sinner and saint.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. –2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Beth is a nothing fancy, saved-by-grace sinner who loves to walk on the beach and write stories — her stories, her characters’ stories, and God’s stories. She has published devotions, Bible studies, feature profiles, and Sunday School curriculum. Currently working on her first novel, she writes at bethforeman.com about grace, books, closets, and more good things.