Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beginning. Again.

So this is my journey. Recently I was thinking to myself that it feels like I just had a baby, so overwhelmingly huge and life-changing this whole thing feels. You know when you have a child that you're never going to be the same again. You know when you've given your life to Christ that you're going to be changed forever. And in many ways this feels very much the same. Like a marked beginning that will take me places I hadn't planned to go.

If you had told me a month ago that I was going to be a headcovering Christian woman, I would have told you just how little you really know about me. That's some other woman, but that's not me. I should have known this was coming, though. I never know what God is up to.

This past summer I'd started a string of fasts. It began with a five day fast I'd done with a friend of mine who is having troubled times in her marriage. The intent was to do this with her and for her, but the fast was remarkably meaningful to me; so much so that I turned right around and did another fast for several days. These fasts had taken my intimacy level with the Lord to a whole new level. During these fasts I'd feel like God was telling me things that seemed clear, but things I clearly did not want to do --- silly things, that seemed to make no sense --- at least at the time. But to not do the things I felt he was leading me to do, well that would be blatant disobedience, and I didn't want that.

After a couple of long fasts, it was nearly time for my 20 year high school reunion. I was really excited about seeing my classmates again and was in a tizzy over what to wear. Suddenly, at the last minute I felt led to wear the more modest dress (one that wouldn't show off my slim figure as much) and no make-up. I really struggled with God's directive on the make-up part --- no make-up to my 20 year class reunion?! No make-up with my oily skin in the smoldering summer heat?! This was preposterous!

But I felt I couldn't not do it. So I did it. I could have felt prettier, but I think I gained something greater than feeling pretty. And now I'm gaining a deeper perspective of what seems to have started this summer.

I've been praying for wisdom and humility for a very long time, and healing, too, from a distorted body image. I can't help but feel that God is answering my prayers in some pretty meaningful and unexpected ways. Maybe every Christian woman doesn't need to be rescued the way I do, but I've been desperate for something more for longer than I care to say.

At first it felt uncomfortable, but intriguing -- the whole idea of covering. Then it felt thrilling, but uncertain. After the initial realization of truth and the height of emotion wore off, I felt as if I was just floating along on a notion --- doing the right thing but not having it feel like such a big deal. I'd read one woman talk about those feelings --- that when you wake up feeling like you don't want to cover, cover anyway. And that's exactly what I did.

I found comfort (surprisingly and not so surprisingly) online --- finding other women like myself, with stories just like mine; women with husbands and kids and actual lives. I'm not even sure how I found them, except for the grace of God. In my hunger and desperation I just kept clicking one link after another, and before I knew it, I was reading about other women just like me.

In retrospect, maybe the writing was on the wall all along. During my fasts, I felt this odd need to drape some cloth over my head when I prayed. It was like my prayers felt more serious when I did that. And I hadn't thought about that I Corinthians 11 passage of Scripture since I don't know when. It just felt oddly right.

When things (finally) came together for me, and I felt God was ushering me in the direction of covering and modesty, I sought counsel from my pastor who advised against it and told me that I didn't need to cover. I felt honestly VERY confused and doubtful. I didn't think I would keep moving forward with this whole idea of covering, especially with what my pastor said. I felt really sad and disappointed. I thought maybe it was all in my head, maybe I'd only imagined being enlightened in some way, maybe covering wasn't all that essential and that maybe it wasn't such a big deal after all.

The next day I felt completely different. I just knew I had to do it; I had to follow through. Maybe God was leading me and maybe He wasn't, but I decided that I'd rather err on the side of obedience than walk a different path. I kept feeling that this might be God's way of answering my (desperate) prayers over my distorted body image. I kept feeling like I wanted to 'opt out' of the current culture's standard of beauty and with God re-create (or re-discover) beauty how God fully intended. This was an enormously freeing thought! And as a black woman, the practical aspects of headcovering were incredibly appealing. Oh, the stress I've had over my hair! Go natural/naptural for a while, which I did, but then it was too much to handle with two toddler boys on my hands. So I go back to a perm after a 13 year break from it, got blond highlights and people couldn't stop saying nice things about my hair. When I was na(p)tural, they mistook me for Celie from The Color Purple, and nobody loved me but my husband and my friends who were naptural themselves. The drama we black women go through on account of our hair! We are accepted when our hair is as European as it can possibly be --- even our mothers and grandmothers insist our hair should be straight, and ask us why we are walking around without our hair done when it's not straight. Oh, the looks I took! Never mind my desire to be authentic and to have my hair stay just as God created it....that's just kookie talk!

So. That said, I have plans to get my permed ends cut off and go back to being naptural. I just feel it's who I am. What to do when it gets so long and thick I can't comb through it unless it's wet? Who cares (and who has to know) since I'll usually be covered when I leave the house? Around the house I can look like a wild woman and have an afro all day...hubby loves it. :-)

Spiritual meets practical in the everyday journey of my life, making ordinary moments sacred. I think this is the way it's supposed to be.

The journey of headcovering, by necessity, also involves dressing more modestly. I'll save that story for another post.

Grace, beloved...


Rosheeda said...

just gonna be following along, ok?

Your name popped up in my mind yesterday in a rather pressing way. Is there some way I can be interceding for you and that beautiful family of yours?

u can email me if u wanna,


Muhala Akamau said...

Dear one! I just found your comment (I hadn't yet programmed this new blog for email notification when comments are left, but I've done that now!); I'll try and email you later today. I'm glad you are following along. Somehow, I hoped you might. :)