Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7
This verse from the book of Luke demonstrates the great worth we each have in the sight of God. He takes the time to count each hair on our head not because he is a detail-oriented obsessive-compulsive and not because he has nothing better to do, but because we matter so very much to Him.
There’s comfort in that kind of love, because we can find our value in relationship with God…a relationship that’s based not on what we do but rather in the grace we’ve been given.
When’s the last time you worried about what others thought of you? How much time do you spend in the morning getting ready, preparing to make a positive impression on people you see that day? When is the last time you compared yourself to someone else and felt wanting?
The other morning a woman on the local news station admitted that she needs at least an hour to get ready in the morning, and, in fact, it took her at least 45 minutes to do her makeup alone. What a shame. It won’t leave her enough time for worship and that’s what matters! Easter is not so long ago and I talked to my children about difficult topics such as death and suffering. But today, it’s a different feeling.
Now, she has different needs than we do in looking presentable since she’s on TV (and some HD channels, I’m sure), but over an hour seemed a bit excessive. Apart from that I really wouldn’t like to do this, I couldn’t afford it anyway as we now have to make it on one income.
Then I thought about my hair. If I have one vanity, one favorite physical characteristic, it’s my hair. I’ve been blessed with thick, somewhat wavy hair that, with a bit of coaxing, can either become tight spiral curls, soft beachy waves, or sleek straight locks. It’s shiny, it grows quickly, and it’s a rich chocolate brown with natural highlights.
I chopped it off a few years ago because I thought I was too vain about it. I was trying to be a Proverbs 31 woman…
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Provers 31:30
I thought I spent too much time on my hair in the morning and took too much pride in it. Plus, I had been thinking of donating it for months but had yet to gather the nerve.
Then one day one of the sororities on campus was offering free appointments with experienced professional stylists if anyone wanted to donate their hair to Locks of Love. I asked if they had any appointments thinking I’d take it as a sign of whether or not I should do it. They had an opening right when I walked in.
The shoulder-length cut was beautiful. It was sleek, it was flattering, and it was modern. I liked it a lot. But I really missed my long hair. I think I was a bit traumatized because I went home later that day, looked in the mirror for the first time, and tried to hold back tears.
I didn’t feel feminine. I constantly expected it to be longer whenever I brushed or washed my hair. I hated looking in the mirror. Time for the gym, but finances are tight and I’ll have to come up with even more excuses.
I eventually got used to the shorter length, but I vowed to let it grow out. I constantly tried new styles and spent much more time washing it and blow-drying it every morning. Straightening it, curling it, spraying it, etc…nothing could really satisfy me. I tried scarves and headbands and hats.
Three years later my hair has grown out to my waist and I don’t intend to chop it off anytime soon. You see, what I thought had been my greatest vanity became even more prominent in my thoughts and took up more of my time once I got rid of it.
I’m sure it would be the same for our local newscaster. If she began feeling guilty about the time she spent getting ready in the morning and tried to cut down that time she’d no doubt constantly worry about how she looked. She’d wonder if she missed a step. She’d be on air and the minute the cameras stopped rolling she would grab a mirror and fix something. Eventually, she might never be truly satisfied. What had taken her over an hour in the morning now took up many hours throughout the day as she worried about not living up to some standard she had set.
That’s the trouble with vanity. It exists whether or not the object of our vanity is physically there like I also noticed in February as we celebrated Valentine’s Day.
Now, whenever someone compliments me on my hair I say thank you. And when I make compliments (which I try to do often) I try to make them about something that person has control over – like helpfulness, cleverness or kindness – because that’s the best weapon against vanity, isn’t it? Not in trying to ignore or get rid of the object of our vanity, but in trying to change what we value and admire in others.
And that brings us back to that verse in Luke. If God takes precious care of the sparrows, simple birds that were sold two for a penny in ancient times, how much more does he care about us when he numbers the very hairs on our head? Vanity is derived from an ever-changing societal opinion of what is valuable, but your value is infinite and constant in the eyes of our God.