I have a cowlick right in the front and center of my head. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it irritates me to no end and always has. I want it to lay down flat and go along with the rest of my hair, but instead it always seems to navigate on it’s own back to the same place, curving up and looking like a big cow tongue gave me a lick in the face!
Ever since my last trim, I’ve been fighting with my hair. I confess I’m very OCD about it, and feel quite ridiculous about my hang-up! But maybe it isn’t as ridiculous as I think. Maybe God, Who knows every hair on my head, has something really important to teach me through this unruly hair bent towards destroying my style!
Scripture talks about our hearts being bent toward evil desires ever since our youth. Before Noah built the Ark and the earth was destroyed in a flood, the Bible says:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Genesis 6:5 ESV
And things were so bad that God wiped out everyone except Noah and his family and one pair of each living creature and started all over. I don’t know about you, but that’s hard to swallow. I’d much rather see them saved.
However, I’m very thankful that Scripture tells us the rest of the story, and to know that after the floodwaters ceased and the earth became new, Noah offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and He made a promise.
And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.
Genesis 8:21 ESV
And afterwards, God placed a rainbow in the sky as a reminder that He would always keep His promise to never destroy the earth and mankind that way again.
Before our family moved from the town where the spiritual abuse occurred, I was sitting across the road from my house at the mailbox, and glanced up to see the most beautiful rainbow over our house which we were moving out of at the time. I could only stop and stare at the greatly needed reminder written across the sky that God always keeps His promises.
In recent months, our family experienced what felt like the total destruction of every ounce of stability we had. After confessing to my new pastor about the abusive relationship with my former pastor, I’d felt the heavy pounding of the storms as I told my husband the truth, then watched the flood waters rise as my husband and others in the church reacted. It felt as if our family were going to drown in the overwhelming rush of waters, and had it not been for God’s voice reminding my heart over and over again that He would keep His promise to bring good out of what the enemy meant for evil I know that I would have drowned. But He never left us, not once, and the rainbow was proof that He was still there, and He was going to keep His promise. I also believed He was telling me I’d never go through this same kind of thing ever again!
If you’ve followed my blog, you know we are a little over a year into our new lives in another town. The storm has finally passed and the flood waters have slowly been receding, and signs of new growth are beginning to pop up. My husband isn’t as angry. Our kids seem to slowly be adjusting to new life. I’m beginning to feel something besides numbness and pain. Life is happening slowly, but at least it’s happening. And there is every reason to hope that it will continue.
But what about that pesky cowlick? According to several different online articles the only way to deal with a cowlick is to brush it in opposite direction it wants to go, wet it with water, apply styling gel, and dry it that way. This will help to “confuse” the way it’s wants to go and later I should be able to “brush it into submission.” My hair is pretty stubborn, so I’m sure it isn’t going to give up without a fight, but I suspect it can’t help but make a difference.
And what about our human nature inclined toward evil, bent from the fall? Paul said:
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
Much like the stubborn cowlick, our bent nature must be forced to go in the other direction away from destruction and towards life. However, this can only be accomplished by the power of God in us giving us the strength we need. I’ve tried and failed too many times to count in my own strength, because we are actually bent towards doing it on our own, and that’s where we get into trouble.
Submission and giving up control for me is something I need for God to constantly help me with. As a childhood sexual abuse victim, control was the only thing I could cling to to keep myself safe. Trusting someone else with my life is incredibly difficult. I’m very bent to do it on my own. Even though I’m no longer a victim of abuse and now a survivor, there are still circumstances in my life that bring back the memory of feeling powerless. When I feel powerless, the need to control kicks in. Right now my husband is working his last week at a very stressful job that he hasn’t liked since he started, but he took it to pay the bills. Finally, two weeks ago he decided he couldn’t take it any more and put in his notice. Not knowing where our income is going to come once we’ve used up what’s in reserve is gone, has caused my need to control nature to kick in. I’m searching job sites, looking at the finances, and wondering what I can do to make the situation better. And the last thing I want to do is say, “Hey God, here it is. Take it. I’m giving you control.”
It occurred to me this morning that this problem is one that most everyone deals with at one time or another. So this is normal for life in a broken world. Worrying, I’m sure, is very normal, too. But growing up in an unstable and abusive home I believe inflates everything to far worse than it actually is. It’s called catastrophizing, and once my mind heads down that path an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness kicks in, then the PTSD that screams do something. Get this thing under control! Visions of a little girl curled up wondering what she could do to stop the abuse from happening flash in my mind. Maybe if I just do everything the right way it’ll stop. Maybe if I hadn’t been bad it wouldn’t have happened. Maybe if I hadn’t wanted a new car we could make it better. Maybe if I hadn’t screwed up as a wife my husband would be happier. Maybe if I do better I can stop anything else bad from happening. A friend told me the other day that pathology is always worse during a crisis. And my controlling nature that perceives this as a crisis is going into overdrive waking me up at 2:30 this morning with self-condemning thoughts. It looks like that cow has licked me in the face again and looking in the mirror I don’t like what I see.
So what am I going to do? Wet that sucker down and brush it in the opposite direction!
Because if I let it go the way it wants it’s going to be curling up again! What am I going to do with these feelings? Write them down and give them to the Lord, even though every emotion I have is screaming for control. When one has been abused by their father it is often the case that they won’t feel like God is a trustworthy Father. If you throw abused by the pastor in there, multiply it by two. But I know these feelings are not based on truth. They are based on a lack of a foundation of trust. But my relationship with God and the new heart and life He began in me started construction of a new foundation. And eveytime I make the choice to trust Him and not myself for control, the foundation gets stronger.
So even though at times I don’t feel anything other than fear and the need to control, I tell myself it’s the result of feelings that God is still healing, and I cling to something more reliable than feelings, faith in a Father who promises to bring good out of every thing in my life, even my own bad choices. Because He loves me more than anyone ever could even when I don’t feel it. He will never leave me even when I go my own way. He’s faithful even when I am faithless. He’s is sovereign even when I try to take control. He can be trusted because He’s a good Father Who will never let me down.
Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
Romans 8:32 NLT
Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Romans 4:18-21, 23-24 NLT