brave: a new name

Last week I got a haircut. This was the first haircut I’d had in Luxembourg. The last time I had one, I’d even taken the long train journey back to Brussels to see my old hairdresser. But it was time to relieve my head of this weight of hair now that the sun was finally shining again. So I asked around, got a number and made the call.

I love getting my hair cut. The luxury of the whole routine is just so wonderful. Someone actually washing my hair for me, the smell of the expensive shampoo, the little head massage they give you. Someone blow drying my hair for more than the thirty seconds it normally gets before I get bored.

And then, finally, that feeling when I walk back out the door. This is the moment that the fashion stylist is going to spot me from across the street and run in front of traffic to have me for their next shoot. I catch my eye in every reflection and toss my head with complete confidence that I am beautiful.

Not so last week.

The hair stylist was sweet and friendly. We chatted about her London family, her training here in Luxembourg. She seemed to get what I wanted – a lighter cut for the summer, take the weight off, help the waves to actually wave again. She suggested going a little shorter at the front and I trusted her judgement.

And then as her scissors got going I tried to ply my facial muscles into a look that wasn’t sheer terror. This wasn’t what we agreed, my mind was yelling. But my well-brought-up, don’t-you-dare-complain British roots were on high alert and I couldn’t open my mouth.

As I walked the long road home I sent a text to my sister – I look like a two year old with scissors got to me while I was sleeping – and just made it in our front door before the tears came. I vowed I would not leave the house for a month; I was supposed to be meeting two friends for coffee that afternoon. Three times I tried to force myself out the door only to find myself back on my bed sobbing in frustration.

I was so angry at myself for caring this much – it’s only your hair, I kept telling myself, get a grip.

My sweet friends texted to tell me I should come: they promised to say nice things about it, promised it would grow again, promised it could not be as bad as I was imagining. Finally, I found the sunglasses to disguise my puffy eyes and walked into town, only an hour late for coffee.*


The desire to hide hits me strong some days.

I want to pack up the few important things we own, pack it all up in to a few suitcases. Close the front door behind us and throw the suitcases in the boot of the car. Reverse out the garage and drive down the street, out the city, into the countryside, driving a little too fast. Just get lost somewhere, maybe for a while, maybe for ever.

This way seems easier some days. Easier than figuring out the next steps. Easier than pushing forward with this baby business and fearing failure every day. Easier than finding the courage to attend another networking meeting, talk myself up again, force myself to sit straight again. Easier than facing my discomfort over our incredibly fortunate lifestyle here when there’s so much pain and poverty and loneliness hiding under the surface. Easier than dealing with my still-healing emotions after our miscarriage. Easier than finding the courage to stay.

But hiding is never the answer. God calls me out. And when I’m ready with an excuse, a reason why I just couldn’t possibly, he has another way to call me.

A new name.

When God first appeared to Gideon he was threshing wheat in a wine press. Hello? Yes, in a wine press. He came from a prominent family in Israel, but he was hiding in fear of the armies that were overrunning their country.
The angel of the Lord appears to him and says, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Mighty Warrior. This man who was hiding in a winepress. Mighty. Warrior.

Gideon is named for what he can be, what he will be, not for what he is in that moment.

At the beginning of the year, I picked my word: Brave. I had no idea how much bravery it would take to start my own business in a new country, how much bravery would be needed to make new friends, trust myself to new people, how much bravery it would take to walk through a miscarriage.

Now I wonder whether I wasn’t so much picking a word, as receiving a name. It’s as if God was saying to me, you may not feel it now, but you are a Brave Woman. You may still be in hiding, but you are a Courageous Woman. I am calling you what you will become, by my strength.

The Lord is with you, Brave Woman.

*A little over a week later I can say my haircut indeed was not quite so terrible as I thought. I’m making my peace with it and even actually liking it some days. I blame my fragile emotional state… 😉

The Bravery Files
I’ve been writing out my thoughts and experiences on living a brave life this last seven months. You can find a few more of my posts here.