I decided recently to shave my head. Since I’ve been follicley challenged for many years, that may not seem like a big deal. But, over the past few weeks as I considered taking the step from cutting my hair using the shortest guard on my clippers to shaving it off with a razor, the anxiety within me continued to grow. “What’s the big deal?” I kept telling myself. “It’s a difference of less than an eighth of an inch of hair and very sparsely populated hair at that.” I began to realize that somehow those tiny pieces of hair provided me with a level of security and comfort.
“Will I look like some handsome bald celebrity or more like Mike Myers’ or Dr. Evil? What will those people who don’t realize that their playful bald jokes often stir up the insecurity within me have to say now?” All sorts of questions and nerve-racking feelings like these ran through my mind as I contemplated whether I could actually take this step.
So, I talked to other men who look good with their shiny scalps and began working out the practical details. What’s the best way to shave my head? How long does it take? How often do you shave? What razor should I use?
My boys’ barber who is also a firefighter and looks good without a bit of hair on his head gave me some of the best advice: “Use a good razor and take it slow” he told me as he recounted how he took out a big chunk of scalp when he was shaving at the fire station and the fire alarm went off. (I definitely committed that tip to memory.)
But, the technical challenge of shaving my head wasn’t really the issue. My fear of being vulnerable and, ultimately, my lack of courage to try something new and possibly fail were the real problems. And because of that, I knew that it was important for me to shave my head even though it really scared me.
So, I turned to someone I trust completely. My wife. I needed her to reassure me of what I knew intellectually to be true but just wasn’t feeling emotionally. She told me that I really wouldn’t look much different than I do after I cut my hair with clippers and that my hair would grow back in a few days anyway if I didn’t like it. She told me she was sorry that some people might have comments that could hurt my feelings. And, she told me without even saying the words that she would love me just the same with or without any hair on my head.
Now after living with my new bald look for a while, I like it. And, more importantly, I know that taking what was then a scary step for me was worth the anxiety I felt in facing and overcoming my fears, not for the look but for the personal growth that it required in me. I knew that I had to live the message that we tell the kids at Adora. “Do the hard thing. You can do it even though it’s hard and scary. What’s the worst that can happen? You are safe here. We will love you even if you fail. You aren’t perfect and we don’t expect you to be. We accept you as you are.”
I remember watching our first Demonstration of Growth and Learning at Adora. Most of the kids were wearing a hoodie or a jacket while they presented what they had learned during the trimester. The Adora team explained to me and my wife that the jackets make the kids feel safer. This thin layer of fabric, like my thin layer of hair, somehow provided comfort and security and removing it while presenting to a group of people they knew they could trust was still frightening to them. Without their jackets, they felt vulnerable and afraid. I didn’t get it then as much as I do now. I better understand now that even though their minds may tell them that at Adora they are surrounded by teachers and other students who love them, their traumatic experiences of the past and their current emotions are real and powerful and are making them afraid and insecure.
I so appreciate how the Adora team comes alongside these kids from hard places to help them grow and mature just as my wife came alongside me and supported me when I lacked the courage to be vulnerable and try something new. I’m confident that just as God is slowly and steadily changing this bald, insecure, middle-aged man to make me a more confident and courageous risk taker through the support of the loved ones in my life, He is also using the well-trained staff at Adora to heal these young minds and hearts from the challenges resulting from the trauma in their pasts and preparing them for exciting futures that He has planned for them. May He give them the strength to be courageous and vulnerable so their gifts and abilities-He has given them-shine as brightly as the sun off my now cleanly-shaven head.