Some things are not worth fighting about. This is one thing I have learned as a spouse and a parent. The key is having the discernment to know which things to go to the ring with and which things to just let go.
There are things in our household that are on the “not okay” list. There are words that are not allowed to be spoken. There are television shows that cannot be watched. There are limits to time playing video games. And there are parameters on the way our three boys can treat each other. But there are some decisions we allow our boys to make, even if we think our choices would be better. One of these areas of freedom is clothing. Our boys choose their own clothes. They don’t always match, and they usually aren’t the best dressed kids in Sunday School, but that’s okay with us. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue, and I have occasionally banned a shirt from church on the grounds that it would be better off as a dust rag, but for the most part, clothing is one area of life I do not consider worth arguing about.
Another area is hair. A couple years ago, our middle son decided he wanted to grow out his head of blonde hair. We made him get it cut once, and it ended in both parties being very frustrated, so we decided to let it go, and added it to our list of things not worth fighting about..
By the time last summer rolled around, his hair has been growing out for months, and with its bleached white color, he really looked like he belonged on the California coast with a surfboard under his arm. He loved it. He got tons of compliments. And he didn’t have any plans to get it cut in the near future.
But something happened one hot July day that put those locks in jeopardy. An accident on the diving board caused a large cut on the top of his head and lead to an emergency trip to the doctor. On my way to the clinic, I called a good friend, whom I can always count on to pray for my needs and the needs of my family. I was expecting her to pray for calmness, a quick recovery and wisdom for the doctor, but I didn’t expect her to pray that the doctor wouldn’t have to cut off my son’s hair. His hair hadn’t even crossed my mind! Getting his hair shaved off would not have been the end of the world, but it would have made a bummer of a situation even worse for my son. It would have broken his heart.
So, as we walked through the door of the medical clinic, I tried to think of the most gentle way to broach the subject of a head shave. But before I had a chance to formulate my thoughts, we were whisked to a prep room where the nurse started to tenderly wash the matted blood out of his hair. Then she very carefully moved the long locks out of the way of the inch long cut so the doctor could staple it back together. Not one piece of hair had to be removed from his head. It seems like such a little thing, but to me it was a huge answer to prayer.
Sometimes I forget to ask God about the little things. I remember to pray for my friend whose daughter went through a year of chemotherapy and now lives in limbo between having cancer and being officially called a survivor. I remember to pray for my dad who struggled for a long time with a wrong diabetes diagnosis. I remember to pray for big needs, but little things like hair I forget. My friend’s prayer, and the answer I received were the reminder I needed that God cares about the little things. In Matthew 10:30 it says “and even the very hairs on your head are all numbered,” and it makes me smile to think that He let the number of hairs on my boy’s head remain.
I was able to learn an important spiritual lesson because of my son’s long hair; something my husband and I decided is not worth fighting about, and God decided is worth keeping on his head.
A slight variation of this The Stuff of Life column was originally published in The Tri-County Times.