I love Evangeline’s hair. I love how different it is from mine. I love the challenge of learning how to care for it and how to make it look beautiful. What product is the best? What style? These things are fun for this blond, straight-haired white girl.
The problem is it’s not fun for her. She hates it. She sits in her booster with a snack or a meal and will put up with my pulling and combing and twisting until her food is gone and then all hell breaks loose. Her feelings grow progressively more hurt as I continue my painful work of beautifying her locks. She does not understand why I keep going when it hurts her so much.
But if I don’t apply and re-apply conditioner and then comb it out and then give it a style that will protect it from snarls her hair will become one terrible mess. The tangles seem to appear within minutes. It is growing longer every week and without the proper care it would quickly become unmanageable.
How to explain this to her? All I can do is look down into her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks and tell her that I’m sorry and it will be over as soon as possible. To her mind it is a very strange kind of love that would allow such pain. To my mind it is absolutely necessary.
And what of my own heart? What tangled messes of pride and rebellion and worldliness lie there? Will I have those tangles approached by the only Hand that can bring beauty? “For He does not afflict from His heart or grieve the children of men.” It has been called His “strange work” – God’s determination to conquer death in our hearts so that we might actually live.
“Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt.”
Maybe you have moments like I have – moments when all you can do is cry in anguish to God to please stop the pain. I shrink from it – run from it – do anything to avoid it. But the Lord is a God of dark mysteries and He will not stop His work of unraveling the tangled mess that is my heart. I can resist Him – pull back – rebel against His touch or I can surrender my heart to the cauldron even as He turns the heat up higher and higher.
“Do you know, my Lord, how crushing are the blows that you allow?”
“I received those blows, my child. I felt the heat of the cauldron you are in. I bled from the wounds that give you pain. I wept your tears.”
The Hands that unravel the mess in my heart are scarred. I can trust them.
“The wounded surgeon plies the steel that questions the distempered part; Beneath the bleeding hands we feel the sharp compassion of the healer’s art resolving the enigma of the fever chart.”