Has anyone ever stared at you? It’s the kind of stare when someone is looking at you for a very specific reason, but you have no clue what it is. It’s almost as if a person is looking at one part of you, not so much you as a person. It kind of makes you wonder if you should call the police, yet at the same time you wonder if this is your moment, and you’re about to be “discovered.”
I had one of those moments a few year ago, and I don’t think it will ever leave my mind. (Ok, I’ve had several, mainly because I’m a ham, or just natural awkward, but we’ll go with this one.) First, understand I have naturally curly hair. I’m not complaining one bit about my curls! In fact, if you touch them with a hair straightener, that’s the last thing you’ll ever touch. I was born with straight hair, and had the classic 90’s spiral perms with gigantic bangs. For some reason my hair started to develop some loose natural curl. Now it’s taken on a life of its own, and I love it! I’m pretty used to seeing these curls, so most of the time they don’t shock me. Apparently, that’s not the case for everyone.
This particular “staring incident” happened mid-June, so my hair was at almost at maximum fluffiness. It wasn’t extremely humid, so curl shrinkage hadn’t fully taken effect. My family was headed out of town for the day and about halfway to our destination we stopped a Sheetz, a well-known Western Pennsylvania convenience store chain, for rations and the restroom. There are two kinds of people reading this right now. Some of you are saying “did she misspell ‘sheets?’” The rest of you are thinking about midnight runs to Sheetz for MTOs, one of their coffeez, (that is not misspelled) coke freezes, and gobs. You can probably even smell the cappuccinos right now. For those of you asking “why midnight?” the answer is, “why not?” It’s basically a mini supermarket, delicatessen, restaurant with about 3 tables, gas station, and most importantly when on a long drive, many have nice restrooms.
After applying yet another coat of fresh lip gloss I was about to leave the said nice restroom, when it happened. A woman in her 50’s with glasses and short straight blonde hair came in. Her eyes got wide as she looked at me. It was “the stare.” Then, she started to walk around me in a circle. I looked at the grey tiled floor, white walls to avoid eye contact. Then, I glanced in the mirror making sure I don’t have toilet paper stuck to me (nope, all good) and wondered what was going on. Even though I was a grown adult, a part of me wanted to tell my mom “stranger danger!” The woman’s hands started moving towards my head in slow motion as her eyes got bigger. Finally, I took a step backwards, and she seemed to remember I was not a museum display. She said “I’m so sorry, but your hair! Can I touch it?” (Uh oh, her eyes were glazing over again.) I didn’t really know what to say, but said sure. She said she had always admired curly hair, and loved how curly mine was. This was both awkward and flattering at the same time. I went with flattering, enjoying being in the spotlight, and had a good laugh. She thanked me, and we went on our way.
After grabbing the necessary rations (pretzels and gummy Swedish fish candy) we made our way to the checkout line. Then it happened again. I could feel someone staring at me. She was right behind me and HAD to touch my hair again. She said “If I were you, I’d never pull it up. I’d just blow it out as big as it could get, and wear it like that all the time!” (Looking back, should I have given her a lock of my hair to remember me by?) Then she explained her fascination. She said all of her life she tried everything to get curly hair. She spent countless hours and money on all kinds of perms, and her hair refused to take any curl. So, she resigned herself to living with the short straight hair and admiring those of us who had the curl. She said I seemed like I was nice so she just had to ask to touch it earlier. She apologized if it seemed weird. I happen to like weird, and flattery will get you everywhere with me, so I was enjoying this now, and made sure she got to touch my curls one more time.
I stood out to her because I had something she was looking for, and I didn’t even know it. Isn’t that what we’re all called to be in one way or another?
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
In a dark world, people are naturally drawn towards light. My curly hair was what had that woman’s attention, but she only approached me because I seemed nice. That’s the kind of light I want to shine, a light that makes someone approach me when she’s only laid eyes on me for a few seconds because something is different. I hope it was Jesus shining through me. The curly hair was just the thing that grabbed her attention. She gave me A Jesus Moment by reminding me to treasure what God has given me. That day we didn’t even discuss Jesus or anything related to religion, but I was able to make her smile. Sometimes simply spreading the joy of Jesus does more than any conversation can. In this verse, we’re not called the “trumpet of the world.” Jesus calls us “the light of the world.”
A silent shining light often speaks louder than words.
What about you? How do you shine? You may not be the center of attention type, but you still shine. Every time you open the door for someone, pick up a piece of garbage, change yet another diaper while soothing a crying infant, give extra time at work that you may think goes unnoticed, or even let someone ahead of you in a busy checkout line, you shine. You have something unique about you, and God will use it to draw the right people to you, if you let Him. Embrace who He made you to be right where you are. Often people don’t need a sermon; they simply need a smile.
I love hearing from you! Have you ever had a hair-raising experience like this? Have you ever had the opportunity to share some light and joy when you least expected it? Please leave a comment and let’s encourage each other.