Searching for Gray

I have an odd somewhat self-destructive habit. About once a month, I will climb up on the bathroom counter, sit down, and comb through my hair looking for any that are white. My neck will be twisted at all angles while I carefully examine each strand, hoping I don't find anything but ready with tweezers just in case.

Growing up, I remember my mom telling us she started going gray in her 20's. Her mom started going gray even earlier. This put the fear of God in me. By the time I got to college, I felt like I was watching a countdown, waiting to wake up one morning with a head that looked granny-chic. By the time I hit twenty-five, I breathed a little sigh of relief. Maybe, just maybe, I had beat the odds. Perhaps this thick head of bitter-sweet chocolate colored curls would remain intact until my thirties.

Every so often, though, I see a glimmer. Usually, it's just the light reflecting the occasional shades of red in my strands but it is always enough to send me into a determined mission. That is where I found myself Sunday afternoon. Curled up on the bathroom counter with eyes peeled like a hawk. Eventually, Rob called upstairs asking what I was doing. This is always the end of my search. The story is the same- he asks what I'm doing, I'm searching for gray, he yells at me to stop and reminds me I am young with dark brunette hair, then we go about our day and I forget all about it. 

Sunday was the perfect winter day in Texas. The skies were cloudless blue, it was warm and windy just waiting to be filled with walks and hammock reading. And I wasted thirty minutes of it trying to see if I was pre-maturely aging. 

It hit me that this is a common pattern in my life, worrying over the coming instead of enjoying the present. During college, I would forgo late nights out, thinking ahead of finals week, graduating the business school, and never wanting to tell my kids about the nights I couldn't remember. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I've always been an old soul, that is true. No amount of staying present would change my love of reading by a fire, quite nights at home, or gardening. But as I look back over these years in my twenties, I think more times than not, what kept me from joining in or adventuring boldly wasn't the old soul tucked inside. It was the fact that I was too busy searching for gray.

Recently, I had a more challenging night with anxiety. There are times that business and big feelings overwhelm the medicine and healthy lifestyle. Rob prayed over me and his words were like water on an August day. "Lord, remind Mer that you say we can't add a single hour to our life by worrying" Somewhere between sitting on the counter on a gorgeous day and hearing my husband speak truth over me, I felt my heart stir. 

God promises to be with us (Ex 3:12Ex 33:14Jos 1:9Isa 58:9Mt 28:20Heb 13:5). He promises us peace (1Ch 22:9Ps 85:8Isa 9:6-7Ro 5:1Php 4:4-9) forgiveness (1Jn 1:9) and full and eternal life (2Ti 1:1Heb 12:26-28Jas 1:12Jas 2:51Jn 2:25). He is faithful to fulfill his promises to us. However, he DOES NOT promise us a certain number of days, specific jobs or relationships, physical healing, or endlessly youthful hair. What he promises is enough but he is generous enough to give us more. Anything on top of fulfilling his promises isn't faithfulness, that is the wrong characteristic. It is generous, kind, and superfluous love. 

Somewhere along the way, my mind got twisted. I started associating changing hair with the decline of my life. So I determinedly plucked and pulled any sign of aging along with many hairs that turned out to just have caught the light wrong (my bad). I convinced myself that God was only faithful IF he was generous. And he was only generous IF I was thinking five steps ahead trying to help make it happen. And being preoccupied with the five steps ahead, eight months ahead, ten years ahead, was the only way to live. Honestly, it's not. Who knew? Probably all of you, you little geniuses.

I'm learning to make some overall plans then to hold them loosely and spend the rest of my time enjoying today. I'm training my heart to be fulfilled with the promises and faithfulness of the Lord and my eyes to look for the generosity that is everything above and beyond. It's a work in progress, acting my age and sometimes even younger, but it's worthwhile work.  


Perhaps one day I really will wake up with a head that has turned white overnight. I'm realizing though that I would rather enjoy my dark headed days than waste them away with worry. I don't think I can truthfully say my days of sitting on the bathroom counter are over. At some point, I will most likely see a glimmer and get a bit freaked. But I'm hoping that the lifestyle of searching for gray begins to fade as I work to plant my feet more firmly in the present. 

So here is to learning to live in the moment, to enjoy with abandon, and to letting the granny-chic look come when it may.

(But please Lord, keep the gray away until my forties or even fifties if you are feeling extra generous)