Cut the Locks

In 1992, I made the huge step to wear my hair in its God-given state. For years I had said I would lock my hair when I turned 60. I chose 60 because I figured I would be established in my career and would have great influence with those around me so no one would have the power to force me to change my hair. Well, I didn’t wait until 60. In 1992, I decided no more relaxers for me and cut my straightened hair until my natural coils formed a nicely cropped fade. It was cool, but I longed for the locks I saw the confident women in my African dance class and a black women’s academic conference at MIT wear. The way they moved and expressed ideas had to have something to do with the hair, I reasoned. It was as if the assurance of their bodies and minds had positioned itself on the top of their heads, and I wanted that type of assurance.

In May 1994, I got my hair twisted to begin the process of dreadlocks and my confidence followed, not confidence accepting the hair that God gave me, but confidence in my locks being “the best” or “the neatest I’ve ever seen,” as people constantly told me. I would smile and give a proper thank you, but inside I would be gloating, talking to myself, saying, “I know. I hear that all the time” or “My hair is beautiful, isn’t it?” To my knowledge, no one knew this ugliness was in my heart. No one even suspected it was there, except for God, of course. And in July 2001, He told me I had to cut away the ugliness, symbolized by cutting off my locks.

My initial objection to His request made me realize how deep my ugliness ran and let me know that I had to be obedient. “No, I’m going to be on HGTV so I can’t cut my hair,” I said aloud, and I heard the vanity of wanting to have fabulous hair when featured on my favorite network at that time. In an instant moment of spiritual sanity, I got the scissors, went to the mirror and cut my locks along with a stream of tears. My momentary sadness had turned to joy, knowing that I was pleasing God and on my way to healing from hair pride. I knew my journey was about complete when I felt led to lock my hair again in 2003, after two years of obedience to no professional haircuts. Since I was four, there was never a time when I didn’t have regular salon appointments. In those two years I learned that the salon contributed to my hair pride, and I needed to get healthy in heart before allowing a professional to style my hair. There’s so much more to this hair journey. Even now the story is still being written. I’m finished for now but still would love to hear your stories.

Copyright 2009 by Rhonda J. Smith

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