Red

 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 (KJV)

I dyed my hair red. I wanted it to be a vibrant auburn. I always thought it would be fun to try out being a redhead. I thought about doing it for years. But long story short I bought some dye at Meijer and just did it.  It wasn’t what I expected and God used the whole episode to teach me something really valuable.

It was early October 2017.

I waited until my 2-year-old was fast asleep and snuck to the bathroom to begin my adventure.  I’ve colored my own hair before, just always some shade of blonde. Wrapped my dye towel around my neck then divided my hair into four sections. I mixed my ingredients, put on my plastic gloves, shook the bottle and started applying the dye.

To my surprise, it looked exactly as if I were squirting tomato ketchup all over my hair. I was amused. It was like a really badly done old horror movie.  I finished applying the dye and waited the prescribed amount of time for the color to “develop”.  When I returned to the mirror the ketchup red had turned a dark burgundy color. It was impressive how my it had changed. I was excited to wash it out and see the new me.

I leaned over the side of the bathtub, my shower head in hand and started rinsing my hair. The instructions said I should rinse until the water ran clear.  Adding water to the now deep burgundy dye on my head produced a dramatic effect. The water in the tub for all the world looked like I had slaughtered a good sized animal. Blood. It looked like blood, and I know what real blood looks like, I cleaned it off of surgical instruments for 15 years.  I had upgraded from my bad good for movie ketchup to what looked like a literal bloodbath.

I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed my hair.  Slowly it started to look like I just had a decent head wound instead of looking like I sacrificed a goat. I kept rinsing. I was annoyed at how long it was taking. The water never did run clear. Eventually, I settled for pink water and I put on the conditioner that came with the dye.

When I began to rinse out the conditioner, to my horror the water was red again. I couldn’t believe it. How was that possible? I dutifully rinsed my hair until the water once again ran pink and then gave up.

I wrapped my hair in a towel and dried it a bit and then turned to check out my new look.

I have been some shade of blonde my entire life. I am almost 40. One time I wore a dark brunette wig in a play, only the stage makeup saved me from looking like death. I thought having red hair would be a fun change. I thought with red hair I would feel exhilarated and bold.

In reality, I felt like a clown. It was SO bright! I felt a strange need to hide and my hair was like a beacon. I swear it radiated its own internal light.  My hair was Bozo the Clown red and glowing like Rudolf’s nose.  I DESPISED it.

I went to bed hating my hair. I vowed that I would shampoo it three times every day until it washed out. I spent an hour looking up tips on how to fade red hair.

The next morning I braided my hair and pinned it up for work. It seemed less awful if there was less of it hanging around my face and shoulders.  To my relief, no one I met that day was cruel enough to laugh in my face. I would forget my hair was different, in my mind’s eye I still thought of myself as a blonde, until I needed to make a trip to the restroom. The bathroom mirror quickly jarred me back to my new life as Bozo.

No photo seemed to fully capture the color I saw in the mirror.  But I knew deep down that red never lasts long, so I decided to rock my new look and enjoy watching it quickly fade.

It didn’t fade as quickly as I expected, but it DID fade.

I was actually starting to really like it. But as it was fading it started to look more and more pink.

I was actually starting to like it. About then someone at my workplace complained that I was breaking the dress code,  the one that requires us to have only naturally occurring hair colors.  Human Resources confirmed that my shade was not within the definition of natural. I felt panicked.

I had to change my hair but I had NO idea how to do it without either damaging my hair or dying it brunette. I knew my hair would only get pinker as it continued to fade.  My mother-in-law’s salon recommended using a medium ash blonde over it to get rid of the red. I was very nervous that my hair would turn orange or green. Back at Meijer I could not find any dye that said it was medium ash blonde.  I did find a product called Color Oops that promised to take the color out without using hydrogen peroxide or bleach.  I bought two boxes and headed home with my fingers crossed.

It took hours.  But it worked.  I returned to work the next morning,  exhausted from lack of sleep but blonde once again.

SO…and here is the important part, I learned something. (Maybe more than one thing. ) The way that I imagine myself and the way others see me is not the same.  In my head at first I was a blonde but the whole world saw me as a redhead.  This can be applied to more instances also, like body image and intelligence.  There is almost always a discrepancy between how we see ourselves in our mind’s eye and how we come across to others and perhaps a discrepancy also between both of those perspectives and the truth.  I can only get that truth of who I am from my Creator.  I  can’t always see that the things He says about who I am are true, or are coming true.  I have to believe that my faith.  BUT I know now that I can change how I imagine myself with a bit of conscious effort.  I can use the scriptures as my mirror and then shift the way I imagine myself to match.  I believe actively pursuing changing or “renewing” my mind in this way helps in my transformation to being who God says I am, who He made me to be.

And because of this revelation, all of the trouble and discomfort and inconvenience of my journey to red and back again were totally worth it.

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