When I was a girl, I hated my hair.
when I was growing up,
every girl dreamed of looking like Peggy Lipton of the Mod Squad.
Or maybe, Cher.
Take a look at any class picture or yearbook page
from the late 60’s and early 70’s
and you will see row after row of little girls
of all shapes and sizes and colors
(or trying to wear)
Long, straight, shiny hair parted down the middle
and flowing past their shoulders.
Some girls achieved this nirvana effortlessly.
And in an era that was all about the hair,
these girls ruled.
were not so lucky.
Despite a complicated--
some might say tortured--
routine that included
a jello-like substance called Dippity-Do
and on desperate occasions, Mom’s Sunbeam iron,
I could never overcome biology.
My unruly hair was a legacy from Grandma Sophia—
inherited along with her green eyes and short legs.
My hair was curly,
and completely uncooperative.
It had its own life,
and in humid weather,
its own zip code.
I spent hours in front of the mirror trying to subdue it,
only to step outside
and feel the Oklahoma wind
churn it into a wasteland where combs went to die.
hair seems like such a small thing now,
so inconsequential in the larger story of my life.
little girls grow up—
I can still remember how it felt
to look in that mirror and cry.
To look into a mirror darkly
and hate the image—
and sometimes even the person—
looking back at me.
Maybe for you,
it was your body—
maybe you thought you were too tall,
or too skinny,
or too round.
Maybe you were uniquely quirky
in a place and time
where conformity was king.
Maybe your family celebrated all things athletic,
and you were the kid
who tripped over chalk lines on the sidewalk.
Maybe you were scary smart
but desperate to be invisible
in an average world.
Maybe your home was chaotic and frightening—
and you blamed yourself when adults failed to protect you.
Maybe you hurt in ways you couldn’t understand
how you could ever escape a pain
you couldn’t even name.
Maybe when you looked in the mirror,
you saw the distorted reflection
of someone you thought was ugly,
someone no one else could love.
Maybe you still feel that way…
In a culture that is often accused of self-absorption,
and downright narcissism,
it may seem strange to begin a reflection on this passage
with a discussion about loving ourselves.
But loving ourselves—
seeing ourselves as worthy,
seeing ourselves as sons and daughters of the King,
lies at the heart of what Jesus is trying to teach.
Despite our culture’s emphasis on self-care
many of us struggle to love ourselves fully
and find value in the person
gazing back from the mirror.
When we look into a mirror
and see a distortion,
our ability to love others is warped,
Eating disorders, addictions, toxic relationships,
destructive habits, avoidance—
the fallout when we can’t see our own worth
can be dark and damaging.
The call to love God
and to love others as we love ourselves
beckons us —
not into self-absorption or conceit,
but into wholeness and healing and liberation.
The call to love God and love ourselves
is a clarion call to silence those voices
that speak lies into us—
to dismiss the hissing in our ears
that suggests we are never good enough,
“Peggy Lipton” enough to be God’s beloved.
Now, it might seem that something so profound,
would be difficult to obtain.
Available while supplies last.
But it simply comes.
Ours for the taking.
God's love is extravagant,
It is not an emotion that ebbs and flows,
dependent on place,
It is a virtue.
Along with faith and hope,
love is a virtue;
a God-shaped puzzle piece embedded deep within us.
it simply flows from God to us--
and if we receive it,
out into the world.
All we have to do is accept it.
When we accept this love and return it,
we can angle a lens
and find God’s fingerprints marking all creation.
When we embrace this love,
our peripheral vision sharpens—
allowing us to discover the face of God
reflected in the people around us.
When we follow this greatest of commandments—
We will look in the mirror,
and even as the world whispers that we are
too fragile or odd or broken to have value,
we will see God,
Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."
(c) Susan Fleming McGurgan