Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just Keep Walking

I had one of my friends from church over for coffee last week. We spent some good time talking and I told her that I now cover my head and I told her the reasons why. I talked to her about my bondage to vanity, and how the intentions of my heart weren't always pure when I wore what I wore. I wanted to be noticed for my slender figure, and wanted to "show off" in outfits that were quite flattering. She had a hard time believing that. Not the part about my covering, but the part about my sin of pride.

"But you want to look nice for your husband, and there's nothing wrong with that. And it's not like you wear your clothes skin tight or anything like that. There's nothing wrong with looking nice and wearing clothes that suit you well or are flattering on you," she said.

I knew she wanted to think the very best of me. God love her for that.

"Yes, but the motivations of my heart were not pure," I countered. "I was vain and vanity is sin. My pride was a sin that was costing me something very valuable. And now I just want to trade it in for something that's more pure."

She was very kind, and looked at me with something akin to sympathy. And a tad bit of confusion. This is not your everyday plate of pie. It's some foreign, weird, ethnic dish that everybody just can't get with.

And watch out for an emerging pride of a new variety: the "I'm better than you because I've been 'enlightened'" sort of pride. Let's exchange old impurities for cleaner things, but let us not take on pride in any form. Let's not judge our sister. Indeed, there is a part of me that could wish (if but for a moment!) that I were in those ranks again...feeling like a normal part of the crowd; not standing out; not going out of my way to find something that "covers" as much as I can possibly get away with.

Yet, as I think on it, I wouldn't trade it for where I am now.

Unless I am connecting with you, dear sisters, I often feel I walk this journey alone, with little to rouse me to excitement in covering in my day to day normal life. I'm busy running after my two toddlers and have little time to think about what's on my head! Yet I press forward, from time to time, seeing new insights into covering and why I chose to do so (or why, rather, it chose me!).

Yesterday, Ashunoah came home from work and I was tussling around with the boys, and forgot I'd had my covering on. I quickly took it off (my hair was already styled beneath the scarf, but the scarf was light material, and it was easy to forget I had it on).

Also, my visit with my church friend reminded me that often we don't want to see the worst in ourselves or in others, either, for that matter. If we are Christians, we naturally want to assume that our other Christian family and friends are filled with good stuff and good intentions all the time. God help us and free us from ourselves! Save us from ourselves! Covering is just a small, outward reminder of my desire to follow and obey Christ. It means I'm giving up (at least trying to!) prideful ways whose gains are fleeting, in order to embrace quiet humility, trust and obedience whose gains are eternal. It means I'm "opting out" of the world's standard of beauty and "opting in" to God's standard of beauty. It means that, once again, I'm in desperate pursuit of authenticity. And I intend to lay hold of it!

Since I was 11 years old I've suffered with a chronic pain condition that has often hindered the quality of my life. It was with me throughout my teens, my twenties and my thirties. It's still here with me today, but by God's grace I do okay on most days (even pretty well for long stretches) and I now take meds that help significantly, but not perfectly.

One day, when our first son was just a few months old, and I was still carrying him in a fleece sling that I wore around my torso, I got hit with bad pain while I was shopping in an aisle of the grocery store. I was stuck there for a moment, with Obi lying in his sling on my chest and me momentarily paralyzed with pain (and fear).

I prayed. "Lord, help me. I've got this child with me...."

I felt the Lord say "Just keep walking." And so I did. Slowly at first...very slowly. I kept moving and moving and by the time I'd gotten to the checkout counter, the pain was gone.

Sometimes it feels as though no one is around to understand me through this covering thing; to uphold me and to encourage me. Sometimes it feels like life is that big grocery store and I'm in the "covering" aisle a bit immobilized by lack of support and encouragement. Yet still...

I just keep walking.

Grace and Peace, beloved...


Rosheeda said...

yep. you're my long-lost big sister.

LisaM at ThoseHeadcoverings said...

Yes, just keep walking in faith and notice that you're in the light too. I surely can appreciate what you wrote about being aware of pride of any kind! Most women who I've read who cover are very aware of that possibility when they begin to cover for worship, especially when they're "the only one". I have a feeling it's because when we were younger and less "enlightened" to use your word, we thought badly of those who were "ahead" of us in the Way, as if by thinking of them as prideful, just because they were doing something that I didn't think I needed to do meant that they thought they were better than me. Just another sort of pride. Amazing how that "proud look" which the Lord hates creeps up in so many different ways. Keep walking in the Lord, and share when you can - it really is encouraging to me.

Muhala Akamau said...

Yes...I feel that way more and more!

Oh what a journey this truly is, and oh, the things we learn along the way! Someone once said that we never choose the moment at which our words (and indeed, our actions, too) have the most impact; it gets chosen FOR us. Who is to say that our obedient and humble walk isn't influencing others in ways we may not even be aware of? I remember a friend of mine from church who had some pretty radical ideas (so I thought) about ten or so years ago. She was a coverer and always covered her head when she came to church. I thought it sort of odd (at that time), but I just said, "Well, that's just Mimi"...because she was a vegetarian, pretty outspoken and wore her hair natural (with no perm). Since then, I've touched base with her and told her how much I now appreciate those "radical" ideas. Except for being outspoken, I'm walking in Mimi's radical ways now myself! Mimi is no longer a coverer, has since become a lawyer, is no longer a vegetarian and now wears a perm. But I know she still loves God and serves Him. Just a testament to how hard it is to walk alone. Thanks, Lisa. You encourage me, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones...

Victoria Rebecca said...

God bless you Sister Muhala. I have recently found your blog, and I am so encouraged to see another African-american covering. I have recently began covering, and I struggle because I am the only one covering at my church and in my family. You are an inspiration. Keep trusting in God.

Muhala Akamau said...

Yes! I'm so glad you're out there! (there are times when I feel like I'm the only one). I'm so encouraged that you are so young and are following the Way and choose to cover. May God bless your faithfulness. Your pies looked really good! I hope your Thanksgiving is a good and rich one.
Grace and peace...

Monica said...

Hello - thanks for sharing again. I just wanted to encourage you again, to keep walking in the light, and taking the next step that the Lord shows - that's all He asks of us, and He gives the grace to do it.

God bless you!

With love, Monica

Monica said...

Oh, and Amen about watching out for pride - it can be so subtle, creeping up on us, but it's an abomination to the Lord, I've come to realize. Every little bit I see it trying to pop up again in my heart, and by God's grace I want to be faithful in pushing it down and out right away. "He giveth grace to the humble."

Muhala Akamau said...

Your words are so encouraging. It's always good to have you visit. Thank you. God's grace to you in the journey!

Our family said...

Hi Muhala, thanks for stopping by my site. I hope to be able to assist you in finding coverings you might like once we get our store up and running, Lord willing.

I am the only one in my church of a 1000 who covers and this can be hard. I'm not trying to do it to stick out, although I do. It's a personal conviction which I haven't pushed on anyone and only talk about it when it's brought up. Thankfully, I have had a handful of people in my church, stop me at one point or another and tell me how blessed they were to see me wearing my coverings. That was encouraging.

Thankfully too, no one has given me a hard time for it, but have rather not talked about it at all, or been very supportive even if they don't agree. It's nice to know, like you said, that there are many out there that are like-minded. Sometimes I wish they weren't so far away though! God bless!

Melissa : )

light and good order said...

Ooooh, this is an incredibly helpful post. I am just now feeling so ornery, so "what's the point," so cranky. I'm just ... aargh ... so restless. I want a hairstyle. NO, I don't. Yes, I do. Picture an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other. :-)

Anyway. This helps. Plop on the covering and keep walking.

Thank you.

Muhala Akamau said...

I hope you are up and running soon. You have lovely fabrics! It also sounds like a nice venture for a mother and daughter.

Also, thanks for the links to your blogs. We are all one in heart and I love that!

Light and Good Order,
Yes! Me, too! Hairstyle today, but not really. No, yes! I mean, no --- I think! I am often like, "does this REALLY matter?" Sigh. But I press on. Let's press on together, shall we? I am thankful for you, dear heart.

God's grace,