Your Hair is None of my Business

I was part of a conversation recently that disturbed me. Someone shared a story about a pastor friend. This pastor decided he’d like to try having long hair and began growing his hair out. When his hair reached a certain length, a deacon approached him, advising him IMG_5924to get a haircut. He kindly refused, saying he liked his hair the way it was. The deacon replied, “Well, do you like working here?” I couldn’t believe it. A church threatening termination of employment over a hairstyle. According to the person telling the story, the congregation had no other issues with the pastor, they were pleased with his ministry amongst them, they just didn’t fancy his long, gold-y locks.

I went from hearing this story to our Sunday morning church service. Our new pastor was asking for a physical response to the question, “Are you all in?” He wanted to know if we were committed to the mission of bringing in God’s Kingdom. There were artists on the platform with three large canvasses on which they had painted a defining landmark in our city, a high level railway bridge that’s over 100 years old. He wanted us to come up and make our mark on the canvas, a sign of our willingness. There were sponges and three background paint colours; yellow and green for the hills surrounding the bridge and blue for the sky. People began to spill into the aisles as he explained. He completed his instructions with, “and don’t go mixing up the colors.”

Still feeling angry over Pastor Rapunzel’s story, I knew I had two options. Either I wasn’t going up there or I was going to do the exact opposite of what our new leader wanted. goldenbackgrounds-and-textures-1889125__480Really, I only had one option, because I wasn’t interested in staying put in the pew as others indicated their “all-in-ness”. I got in line when there was a lull, knowing full well that I had no intention of conforming. When it was my turn, I soaked one of the sponges in yellow and splashed it with firm defiance across the three canvases where the blue of the sky was supposed to be. Who doesn’t like sunshine?

Why did I do this? For a number of reasons. I did it for a man who had to cut his hair to keep his job. I’m sure short hair wasn’t in his job description, but it was obviously an unwritten rule in that church. To me, it smacks of a lack of love and an emphasis on the wrong thing! God told Samuel, in the process of choosing David as the next king that “the Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward IMG_5925appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Judging people by their appearance. That’s a worldly thing to do. If we’re to be like God, then we must begin to look past appearances. Was that church looking at their pastor’s heart when they approached him? No, they were chasing him with scissors and it’s never a good idea to run with scissors.

I did it for everyone whose ever felt judged at church, because of how they chose to express themselves. I did it for the mohawks and the piercings and the tattoos and the wrong clothes. I’m tired of hearing such stories. Who’re we to dictate how others wearIMG_5928 their hair or how they dress? Of course, it’s important to honor God with our clothing choices, to be modest and not overtly offensive (obscene or vulgar), but that’s where our censure should end. Shouldn’t we be grateful, in an age where church attendance is falling off that people come to church at all? A friend of mine, a gifted choir director, got skewered once because he wore flip-flops on the platform. Is it possible that God rejected this man’s glorious choir tribute, because his flip-flops were an abomination?

I did it because I was staring at art up there and my experience of art is that it’s often chaotic or there’s dissonance that captures one’s attention and imagination. The pastor invited people to go pick up their children and allow them to participate. Children are notorious for coloring outside the lines. I wondered how these children would follow his dictation to keep the colors together. I wondered how many Christian’s spontaneity and creativity has been squelched in the name of conformity.

I did it because God made me an individual not a clone. He meant for each one of us to become Christ-like versions of ourselves, not Cookie-cutter Christians, a term my pastor IMG_5926father used often. He meant for you and I to make a our own defining mark on the landscape of his kingdom, not a prescribed one or why would he have given out so many distinct gifts? We were meant to be different from each other in order to build each other up, complementing each other, each one an essential part of the team. He also made us unique, because he knew not everyone was going to like us. God did this on purpose to reach as many as possible. The long hair may be able to reach someone the crew cut can’t reach and vice versa.

I get that there’s a marked difference in the significance of these two situations. On the one hand, a man was made to do something he had no desire to do to appease his IMG_5930employers and maintain his livelihood. On the other, a Pastor, probably someone who loves order, made a fair request to keep things tidy. I do think order is important. We all need a considerable amount of structure in our lives to function in a healthy way and God created boundaries for our benefit, but God isn’t only about order. Take a step into nature and it’s evident that chaos is not in any way outside of his realm. One of the most magical forests I’ve ever visited is on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It’s called Cathedral Grove: ancient, massive, trees, some tall and stately, pointing proudly to the heavens, some whose branches go higgledy piggledy, draped in drippy, shaggy green, many leaning or fallen where they may, their humongous, jumbled root systems exposed, housing a myriad of creatures. There’s a boardwalk through this forest, man’s attempt to tame it and I’m grateful for that, but it’s all over the place and awe-inspiring to say the least!

On that great Judgement Day, Matthew 25:32 says, “all nations will be gathered before him”. Not one nation, one ethnicity, one bland, monochromatic mass, no all peoples, IMG_5927a kaleidoscope of all colours, shapes, sizes, and hair lengths. Why are we not embracing what is so obviously God’s plan? Why are we not celebrating our differences and giving each other room to flower into our most beautiful, unique selves? Let’s go out from now on, looking kindly, with love, on our neighbor’s hair, his ripped jeans, his exposed hairy toes, for we’ve no time to fret over such frivolities. We’re on important Kingdom business and we’ve got colours to splash. 😀

 

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: @pollyeloquent2 and don’t forget to mention that you’re a reader. Thanks for your time!

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Say What you Need to Say

For St. Valentine, because he deserves better.

I love me some Facebook, but I’ve noticed an avalanche of other things where my friend’s status updates used to be. I find it humorous that people are upset when others scroll on by, when they’ve offered little incentive to stop and look. My main reason for going on Facebook is not to be inspired, enlightened, challenged, taught, or entertained, IMG_4788though all of these things take place. I go on Facebook to see what’s happening in the lives of my friends. I enjoy the family pictures, the declarations of love, the documenting of birthdays, weddings and holidays, the silly stories, and the “look what my kid did and I’m so proud” moments. I’ve always been shy and when I see people in social situations that I’m friends with on Facebook, I feel a barrier to approaching them has come down, because I have, at least, a vague idea of what their lives look like. This seems less likely to occur, as personal statuses are replaced with quotes, articles, and cat and dog videos.

We’ve long been trying to take the personal out of our relationships, even though relationships are inherently personal. The cellphone is a primary example of this. Have you ever had someone across from you at a dinner table ignore you while they twiddled IMG_4316with their gadget? I have and I wasn’t impressed. When I’m out with someone, I expect eye contact and conversation. I shouldn’t have to find something else to do while someone checks their emails, their twitter feed, or the number of likes they’ve received on their latest quirky, but charming selfie on Instagram. I’m sitting across from them. Doesn’t that rate as the ultimate “like”? Even more baffling, wasn’t the original intent of the telephone to connect people: families separated by miles could enjoy the sound of their loved one’s voices and catch up on daily goings on? Now we just fumble thumb grammatically incorrect grunts to each other and call it communicating. Texting is convenient for making plans, but it’s not a good way to make or sustain a relationship.

Greeting cards are another way the world tries to interfere with genuine, meaningful connection between individuals. A landmark anniversary, a long-awaited, well-deserved graduation, a sacred wedding ceremony is on the horizon and what is our first thought? We hop on over to the nearest Hallmark. Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? How is it even possible for a stranger to write a heartfelt message to one of our loved ones? There’s nothing personal about greeting cards, other than that they’re created by a team of persons. The messages have to be generic to appeal to a large number of consumers. The cards we give to our mothers, dear children, or best friends are not unique, but mass-produced and marketed. They’re not representations of our thoughts, but someone else’s thoughts. Our thought was to go and purchase a thought, rather than thinking for ourselves. We’ve been duped into buying something else we don’t need.

Why would we pay strangers to say the important things that we need to say to the people who mean the world to us? “Well, I’m not a good writer” is one argument I’ve heard. As far as I know, the average birthday or anniversary message isn’t published in IMG_4792the newspaper or blogged on the internet. Do we really think our relatives and friends expect us to be William Shakespeare? Can’t we just genuinely express our thoughts and feelings with each other? Who wouldn’t prefer a sincere, vulnerable sentence or two over a generic, flowery rhyme?  If one is really at a loss, the phrases “I like you” and “I love you” are powerful and I know people who’ve rarely heard these words. There’s always spell check for those who’re concerned about grammar, but be wary of auto correct. My husband says whenever he types in his name, spell check wants to change it from “Myron” to “moron”.

“Well, I don’t have time” is the standard excuse we hear for just about everything these days. I disagree. Many have time to drive to a mall and stand in a card shop, eyeing the artwork, reading the sentimental verses or funny quips, comparing one card with another, and perusing the price points. There’s an hour or more there to be used to write congratulations to a graduate or to pen a love letter.

“Well, I’m not creative” is another falsehood we’ve been deceived into believing. Yes, artwork on cards is lovely to look at, but it’s disposable. Unless you attach value to it, it IMG_4787ends up in a landfill. It’s about the message, not the packaging. We’re all equipped with an incredible combination of mind and heart, idea and depth of feeling. We only need to harness what’s already there. We’re wired to communicate with passion.

My kids have been making cards since they were old enough to draw. The act of making a card is a gift in itself. It says, “I care so much about you that I’m willing to stop what I’m doing and think about you and see what comes of it.” Recently, my daughter was in a hurry and lamented having to make a card. I had previously scanned a piece of her artwork into the computer and after printing it, suggested she write her friend a birthday wish on the inside. My kids are artistic and have come up with some cool designs, but I prefer to use pictures from Google images on my cards. I write something, select an image that suits the message, and simply copy, paste, and print. Some may argue that a handwritten note is the most personal gesture of all and I would tend to agree, except that the quirky fonts appeal to me. Computer or no, the message is always mine, created and signed with love.

Some of you who know me know this about me, but I believe it’s remarkable and will say it again here, because it fits. Every year on my birthday I receive a birthday card from my parents, as many of you do, but my card always has a handwritten list on it. My Dad uses up the white space left on the card to affirm me as a person. He lists my good qualities and achievements. The card may be pretty and the verse clever, but they’re IMG_4790meaningless to me. It’s the list I crave and cherish. I have years’ worth of cards that document my growth over my lifetime, because my Dad takes the time and makes the effort to sit down and think about me. Every once and awhile, I look at these cards again and see what he sees and feel good and grateful. I encourage you to do the same for those you love. You will never know what a message from your soul will do for another human being until you put it out there. In your relationships, you have the power to uplift, inspire, and encourage. Your words can bring meaning, healing, hope, joy and love. Or, you can go to the store. It’s your choice.

Happy Valentines Day!

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: @pollyeloquent2 and don’t forget to mention that you’re a reader. It’s a private account. Thanks so much for your time and attention. 🙂

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A Monologue on Marriage

Marriage is a kiss or a slapmarriagecouple-1783843_1280
A cuddle or a cold shoulder
It’s a serenade or a shouting match,
Don’t matter if you’re young or older
It’s a walk in the park or a natural disaster
Ecstasy or woe
It really depends on what you’re after
It’s your show

marriageumbrella-768541_1280_FotorYou can work as a team or against each other
You can build up or pick apart
You can bear a burden or be a burden
It’s about what’s in your heart

You can forgive or hold a grudgemarriageheartsickness-428103_1280_Fotor
You can let it pass or complain
You can show respect or criticize
It’s how you play the game

Marriage is a dream or a nightmare
A tall tree or a worthless weed
You’ve got to nurture what you plant to see your love succeed
marriagelove-2055372_1280It’s a work of art or a piece of trash
Juicy fruit or a cold, hard pit
But of all the things that marriage is
It’s what you make of it
Show love, work hard, hold fast, have hope
It’s what you make of it 😀

 

Author’s Note: In two days, I celebrate my 26th wedding anniversary. My husband and I dated for six years before this, so we’ve been committed to each other for 31 years. Married life is a blessing. 🙂

Complete the experience. Listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman’s Together.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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Here’s to the Great Sorter in the Sky

Take control of me, Jesus. The current management is woefully incompetent.

 

My son, like many other boys his age, loved to play with Lego. His imagination soared as he created all manner of scenes, structures, and creatures. One Mother’s Day, I even received a clever, Lego cake!legocake_Fotor

At one point, he began the daunting task of sorting his Lego. He made this decision, because it took too long to locate the particular piece he needed. Having obtained a load of it at a garage sale, I watched him patiently sorting through it for days.

One afternoon, I was helping him, while his younger sister looked on.

“Why are you helping him sort his Lego, Mummy?” she asked.

Without hesitation, I replied, “Because I love him”.

In the silence that followed, I had a moment of gratitude for the love of God
and His willingness to help me sort out so much more than just my Lego.

 

Complete the experience. Listen to Audrey Assad’s “Good to Me”. 

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

What Does a Gal have to do to get a “Like” Around Here?

For those of you who enjoy watching movies and are around my age, you may remember the moment Sally Field received an Oscar for Best Actress in the 1985 film Places in the Heart. She was glowing and gushing as she delivered her acceptance speech, her bouncy curls combed high atop her head as was the style. (Watch the clip here.) She mentioned her cast and crew and her family and then went on to say something that has been mimicked and mocked ever since and I quote, “But I want to say thank you to you. I haven’t had an orthodox career and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it. And I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now! You like me!”
Continue reading “What Does a Gal have to do to get a “Like” Around Here?”

The Scarf that Keeps on Giving

I have a scarf. It was purchased for me by a dear friend on one of her holidays. It’s a rainbow of fuchsia, coral, tangerine, and canary yellow. She said she saw it and it reminded her of my vibrant personality. I don’t wear scarves, because I have boobs and don’t wish to look like an 87-year-old Grandma with waist deep, wrung out, brightly-colored mammary glands. For a while, I wondered what to do with this scarf. It’s too beautiful to languish in a drawer and I would never re-gift it because I love my friend and appreciate her thoughtfulness. One day, I tied it in a bow and hung it on the bedpost next to my head. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded that I’m a beautiful, multi-faceted human being and that I have a friend who loves me. Do you own such a treasure? Is it out where you can see it?

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

The Sacred Meet and Greet

Somebody needs you. Don’t keep them waiting.

It happens when we leave the house, often numerous times a day. Two people who know each other pass by in a hallway at work or on the sidewalk, at school or a conference, at a bar, a gym, or in the church foyer. Our eyes meet, we recognize each other, and we acknowledge each other with a greeting. We say “Hello”, “Hey there”, or we throw out a quick “Hi”.
Continue reading “The Sacred Meet and Greet”

A Birthday Grief

So far the days have strayed since when we were together
Oh, how the hours have flown since I last held your hand
I long to hear your voice and trace your face and hold you nearer
And wish to never lose you again
Now time is marking days we spent in celebration
But in your absence, I am at a loss for joy
The day that you first graced this place, now a reminder
That you will tarry elsewhere evermore
Oh, God, who watched his closest friends desert, betray him
Oh, God, who died alone in agony
Oh, God, I clasp your promises in weakness and hang my head in heart-sick misery
I plead, though feebly, with the psalmist
Come satisfy as only you can do
I stumble onward, tearful, faithful, and in earnest
And trust that you will see me through

 

Author’s Note: This poem was written for a friend who lost his spouse.

Complete the experience. Listen to Danny Gokey’s Tell your Heart to Beat Again.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Footprints in the Snow

For my husband

Walking together in the chill of a winter’s eve

Bodies craving warmth are bundled into obscurity

Breath hangs like icicles

You trudge on ahead

Diamonds sparkle at the crunch of your heavy boots

I follow sure-footed the glittering path you’ve made for me

I thank you for those footprints in the snow

For the many things you do for me

To make my life a little bit easier

 

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

My Children Have Me

For my children

I have children and my children have me

They have my body

They took from me to form

The bricks and mortar of their frames

All mine

They grew inside

And forced their way into the world

And took me with them

 

They have my time

My resources are theirs

Their sustenance and shelter

Come at my expense

My help, consistent and intense

They flourish in the wake of all my tenderness

I carry and support them

 

They have my mind

My thoughts are oft of them

Their lives, their health and happiness

My meditation

Now become my true vocation

They learn and try, excel and make mistakes

And I applaud them

 

They have my heart

They had it from the first

My love for the them far from a wispy, passing notion

More like a sure devotion

No matter where or who they are

I cannot help but love them

 

They have my cells, my time, my care, my mind, my money, and my love

My listening ear

My best advice

My fervent prayers

My biggest hugs

There’s not a day that passes by

That I don’t thank the Lord above

That I have children and my children have me

 

Complete the experience. Listen to Amy Sky’s I Will Take Care of You.

Posts come out every Monday morning, a poem every third Monday. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: pollyeloquent. Thanks for reading. 🙂