It is really the strangest sensation to feel wind on my the back of my scalp. To put on a hat and feel like the fabric is floating above my head. To have small children put the pads of their fingers to my head and say, “It feels like Daddy.” To wash my hair in 30 seconds.
On Saturday, I shaved my head.
I sat in a chair on the football field where many Friday nights of my high school years were spent, and behind me, the woman who discovered my mother’s melanoma took rubber bands and gathered the 18 inches of my hair into ponytails – six of them.
Then she cut, and cut, and cut . . . and then she shaved. In front of me, my friend Kathy gave her inches, too. And beside me, Ann did the same. They came out with adorable short hair cuts. I came out with a buzzed head.
All around us, people watched. I saw camera flashes and heard gasps. When I stood up, the crowd cheered.
People cheered because I shaved my head. I’m still puzzling through that.
Maybe they cheered for the same reasons I did it – to show solidarity with people who lose their hair to cancer treatments. Or maybe they cheered because they knew that doing this act had helped me raise a lot of money for the American Cancer Society.
Mostly though, I think they cheered because I did something they couldn’t or wouldn’t do themselves. They cheered because I was braver than they thought they could be. Because I felt free to do that – no man saying I couldn’t, no sense of beauty that depended on my hair, no identity locked up in inches of dead cells. Maybe they cheered because they thought I didn’t feel those things.
They would be wrong. I felt all of that – I was terrified.
But if I have learned anything in this life, it’s that the good things often wait on the other side of fear.
So today, as I walk through the yard and feel that cool breeze on my skin where my skull meets my neck, I find the good thing – the freedom that comes when we step beyond the fear, when we push beyond the expectations people lay on us, when we toss aside definitions of who we are that are handed to us by culture and family and our mistaken sense of self.
Today, I walk around with my shaved head and that breeze to remind me that who I am is not locked up in any part of me or in what I do. It is, instead, given to me by the One who knows my name.
This week, I’ve read a lot of amazing posts about what it means to be free. I encourage you to check them out:
“The Man You Don’t Want to Marry” by Ed Cyzewski
All of these posts encourage us to push past who anyone by God says we are and to live into what our true identity is – people created by a God who can do nothing but love us. There’s so much strength and beauty in that.