31 Days of Trusting God: Identity

tumblr_mve2y4i1bg1st5lhmo1_1280Earlier this year, I went to the dermatologist about my ongoing hair loss. I was told I have hereditary Alopecia Areata. Basically, I have hair loss because my immune system is confused and attacks my hair follicles instead of attacking helpful things. This results in random hair loss. It is usually in patches for most people. I’ve just noticed my hair getting a lot thinner.

I’ve changed shampoos and am still trying to exercise and eat healthy. Unfortunately, there is not really anything I can do to prevent it from happening. I can stress less so I don’t make it worse. Fortunately, I probably will not lose all of my hair.

Still, after finding out, I instantly texted a few of my friends asking if they would still be my friend if I was bald.

I actually have really great friends. They said they’d still be my friend. One of my guy friends asked if I’d still be his friend when he’s bald. I told him it’s not weird for guys to be bald. I’m not saying guys aren’t sensitive to losing their hair. I actually had a friend in college who led with that as an introduction. “Hi, my name is John*, and I’m balding.” Seriously. I kid you not he worked his balding hair into his introduction. I’m pro-self-effacing humor, but maybe let’s not lead with that every time.

As someone who collects irrational fears, if you tell me I have a disease that results in hair loss, obviously I’m going to the jump to the conclusion I’m going to instantly lose all my hair and have to buy a wig and will end up alone because who wants to marry someone who is bald? Good thing I like cats, right?

Even though that’s over-reacting just a little, I would be lying if I said I didn’t imagine what would happen if I lost all my hair. Would anyone want to date me? I mean I still have hair now, and it’s not like the guys are lining up. And, honestly, as far as bad things happening, losing some hair doesn’t top the list. There is real loss in the world, and I’ve lost people close to me. I’ve had people close to me lose people close to them. Losing hair is cosmetic, yes. It is even a little difficult. But it’s not something to fear.

I think it comes down to this: fears exist, but when I let fear overtake my life, I’m not trusting God.

I don’t think that’s the root (hair pun. too soon?) of the problem. I did not have my first major haircut until I was in the tenth grade. Since I have curly hair, people have always known me by my hair. Even though a lot of women have curly or wavy hair, my hair has always felt like it’s been a part of who I am. However, trusting God also means trusting God in my identity. Do I really trust who God says I am?

I have been created and am known by God.

Henri J. M. Nouwen writes in The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish To Freedom:

“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.

He continues:

“You need spiritual guidance; you need people who can keep you anchored in your true identity. The temptation to disconnect from that deep place in you where God dwells and to let yourself be drowned in the praise or blame of the world always remains. Since that deep place in you where your identity as a child of God is rooted has been unknown to you for a long time, those who were able to touch you there had a sudden and often overwhelming power over you. They became part of your identity. You could no longer live without them. But they could not fulfil that divine role, so they left you, and you felt abandoned. But it is precisely that experience of abandonment that called you back to your true identity as a child of God.”

*Name has been changed. It was changed to protect the person and also because I really wanted to include a name that’s been changed in one of my posts.

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