My hair has always tried my patience. Problem: it is fine and thin. As a teenager, I put it up in pin curls (does anyone remember them anymore?) each night and wore it curly. Later, I used rollers and back-combed it, so it looked fuller. Regardless what I did, I rarely felt good about my hair. So, whenever there was a special family event involving photos, I’d head to the beauty shop. The beautician would transform my hair into something attractive, and my friends would say, “Oh, I like it, why don’t you pull your hair back with all those curls and the bangs, all the time?”
Problem: I didn’t have the patience, time, or ability. So, in recent years, I curled my bangs with a curling iron and twisted the rest of my hair to the back and put in a clip. It was easy, and it worked. However, that style was dependent on a curling iron. That’s what got me into trouble.
Our youngest daughter, Crystal, recently married an Israeli. After the wedding here in Oregon, we traveled to Israel for the ceremony there. I took my curling iron, and my husband took along a converter for me, since Israeli electricity has higher voltage than ours in the U. S. All went well until we were at a bed and breakfast above the Sea of Galilee.
I asked my husband, Pete, for the converter. Our son, Stephen, said, “Oh, use this smaller one. I use it all over Europe on my business trips. We connected the curling iron in the bedroom, and while it heated up, I went about doing other things.
First warning: when I returned to the room, I smelled the heat, but didn’t think too much about it. Second warning: when I picked up the curling iron, it burned my left thumb and forefinger. This baby is really hot, I thought, but continued to turn my bangs around the iron. I left it there a moment. Satisfied that the curl should be ready, I removed the iron—and the hair. Yes, the hair. Hanging from the curling iron was about two inches of my bangs. “Oh, no,” I screamed.
Everyone came running to see what happened. I held up the curling iron with my hair dangling from it. The men began figuring out what went wrong. I collapsed into my daughter, Crystal’s arms and sobbed. The wedding was only two days away. I had so looked forward to this special event and the photos I would have with Crystal and other family members. Now I wondered how I could even go.
“And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I repeated in my mind, as soon as I could gain control of myself. I could trust God, but oh, what could be done with my hair?
Daniel, my new son-in-law assured me they could put on hair extenders at a beauty shop in Jerusalem. Doubtful, I kept wondering how things would all turn out. Every time I started to panic, however, I repeated, “All things . . . . . . .” in my mind.
That day we went to see the Jesus boat, an archeological find on the northern Galilee and for a ride on the Sea of Galilee. My granddaughters, ages seven and nine didn’t seem to mind that my bangs were gone. I was still Grandma to them, regardless how I looked. “All things work together for good. . . .” I kept repeating, but I couldn’t see how I could come out of this better than before. Was God dealing with my pride? I wondered.
The next day we went to the Dead Sea. We floated in the salty water and rubbed the mud on our skin. It might be healthy for our skin, but I knew it could do nothing for my hair.
Our daughter and son-in-law had taken our family sightseeing around Israel for three days before the wedding, leaving dozens of errands to be run on the day of the celebration. High on the list, however, was a trip to the beauty shop for me.
“We thought maybe you could extend her bangs,” Crystal told the beautician.
He took one look at my bangs and shook his head. “They’re too short,” he said. “I can cut some of the hair further back to match their length,” he explained in Hebrew.
Crystal told him what he should do with the remaining hair and left on an errand.
“I think the sides and back need to be cut,” the hair dresser told me haltingly in English. “You like it.”
I was desperate, and I had no one else to consult, so I agreed. With a few snips of his scissors, my hair was cut about two inches below my ears.
“You like?” he asked.
What could I say, the hair was gone. “I, I’m not sure.” First my bangs were gone, now the rest of my hair was drastically different. I didn’t look like the same person. Oh, my. But I caught myself, “All things work together . . . .” but how could this work for good. Would anyone even recognize me? I couldn’t recognize myself.
When Crystal returned, my usually even-tempered daughter yelled in unbelief. “What did you do to her? Why didn’t you do what I said?”
“Her hair is too fine. It wouldn’t work,” he said defensively.
Then, I understood. Most Israelis have lots of course hair. He’d probably never worked with fine, thin hair before.
“Oh, I like your hair,” Christine, my daughter-in-law, said when she greeted me at the wedding that night.
“Really?” I asked incredulous.
“Yes. I do.”
“Stephen stepped up. “I don’t know what all the ‘to do’ is about. I think it’s cute.”
I sighed. I didn’t think I could ever like it. And how would the photos look?
The evening was lovely with the back-drop of flowers in the nursery where Daniel worked. My granddaughters strew flower petals along the path. Following Israeli tradition, Pete and I accompanied Crystal to the huppah. Daniel eagerly met us, and we all went inside the huppah for the ceremony. Israeli dancing followed. Of course, I didn’t know the dances, but Crystal had assured me ahead of time that the steps weren’t important, just the camaraderie. Crystal and Daniel were hoisted on chairs, and everyone seemed beside themselves for joy.
We returned to Oregon a few days later. The first gathering I attended after the trip was a Moms prayer meeting. Of course, my hair was a topic of discussion. Everyone said it looked good. One gal said it looked more modern. Then Carol, whom I knew would speak her true feelings, said, “Would it be wrong to say it looks better than before?”
Okay, I admitted to myself. It’s not like I wanted it, but I will get used to it. It’s not difficult to care for. And yes, all things, even my bangs getting burned off, work together for good.
Geneva Cobb Iijima lives near Portland, Oregon. She has published four books and over 70 articles. Visit her at www.genevacobbiijima.com