Her eyelashes were the first thing I noticed when I held her close, that long-awaited bundle swaddled in stripes of blue, pink, and white hospital cotton. Those gently curved swaths of inky delicateness were so long and full they didn’t look real. The tips reached almost to her dark eyebrows when her fierce blue eyes were open.
Now, at 15, both landscapes lie tattered and barren.
The marks of her autoimmune disease have staked their claim; all her bottom lashes are gone, and one eyebrow flaunts a naked gap the size of her pinky finger.
The bareness is foreign to us both.
I search her scalp closely, carefully separating layers with a dedicated chopstick, looking for the circular patches of hair loss. I let out my breath silently as my right fingers trace the first of several perfectly smooth areas while my left hand reaches around to her face, so she can see the size of the circle I’ve created with my thumb and forefinger. We’ve developed our own kind of sign language to communicate the damage.
This is our fourth round of hair loss in five years. There is no predicting the onset or duration. And each time the hair falls out, we pray that it will grow back. We pray she’ll enter remission where her body stops attacking itself. We both know that of all the autoimmune diseases in the world God could have allowed, this is the best one.
No one dies from Alopecia Areata.
But your spirit takes a beating from it.
Days later as we drive to her Pediatric Dermatologist, I notice some of her upper eyelashes have departed now too. Those beautiful, long curtains framing her eyes have fallen away bit-by-bit.
She sighs as we talk about losing pieces of ourselves and our identities.
And she tells me this:
“I don’t know what God is doing. I don’t understand why he would keep letting this happen to me. I asked Him if I was placing too much, you know, importance, on the way I looked, my makeup, my hair, and all that stuff. And it felt like in my heart I was.
So, I’ve just decided to leave the gap in my eyebrow. I’m not worried about covering it up anymore. It’s part of me. It’s part of who I am, but it doesn’t . . . define me. None of that stuff I worried about before does. If I feel like wearing makeup, I’ll wear it. If I feel like fixing my hair, I will.
Or, maybe I won’t. Either way I’m still me. And that’s ok. It’s ok for people to see me just like I am.”
I agreed.Who we are isn’t tied to what we look like on the outside. The person we are is because of what God placed on the inside.Click To Tweet
Created in the image of the King himself, we bear within us His likeness and thus, His glory.
But most of us spend our lives forgetting that. We judge ourselves and everyone else by all the outside things. We’re afraid to show up with part of our eyebrow missing. We’re afraid to show up with our drug addiction showing. We’re afraid to show up with our two divorces and mental illness diagnosis in tow.
We don’t want to be labeled, judged, and rejected.
And it’s in this environment of fear that Satan’s devices abound.
He uses our short-sightedness against us.
By keeping us focused on all the broken parts of ourselves, we cannot see each other in the way God intended.
We cannot see the glory of the inside gifts, so we struggle to love, forgive, and minister to one another.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Each moment we are confronted with these fears we have a choice. We can waste our time being preoccupied with beauty, lifestyle, and history, or we can follow God’s example and be interested in the condition of the heart.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
We can decide to be a people devoted to finding that stamp from the Father inside ourselves and others that declares his glory while making us uniquely ourselves.We don’t have to follow the broken road of outward judgment.Click To Tweet
We can leave the gap and know the glory of God is pouring out of us everywhere we go.