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Tangles and Tantrums

7 years ago written by

My daughter hates to comb her hair. A simple question every morning — “Did you brush your hair?” — elicits such response that you might think I asked her to jump off a bridge, poke her eye out with a fork, or enter a swarm of angry bees.

Some days (they are seldom, I pick my battles), when it is important that Brianna look a little better than just barely presentable (she is beautiful but some circumstances require not looking like you have just hopped out of bed, pretty as you may be first thing in the morning), I do her hair for her. Much to her chagrin, I do the necessary things to mold her hair into something attractive rather than its daily look that leaves a person wondering if she rolled through a field of burrs. I wet it down, spray it with detangler and gently move the brush through small areas until all tangles are removed and it rests smoothly and silkily on her head. Occasionally (maybe once a year), I will blow it dry and curl it or straighten it to remove any more imperfections or inconsistencies.

On these occasions when I do my daughter’s hair, I can guarantee one of two reactions and oftentimes both. One, she will move. As she jerks this way and that (and sometimes screams and cries too), or walks away from me, the process is more painful as the tugging of the brush becomes more, or the hot straightener touches her skin by accident. Not only is it more painful, it takes at least twice as long. If she would just stand still, the deed would be done in no time at all. Two, she tries to do it on her own. She is convinced she can get those tangles out as well as I can or without as much pulling. She angrily grabs the brush and goes at it with so much gusto that, like every other morning, she does not get all the way through. She is not doing anything wrong (apart from her attitude) by brushing her hair. She just cannot get it like I can. I have more experience and better perspective. After she is done, I have to take the brush and do it all over. Again, time would have been saved if she would have just trusted me to do the work I do well.

Does this sound familiar? It does to me. It sounds an awful lot like how I respond as the Lord tries to mold me.

I move. Gentle, compassionate and full of grace, Jesus comes to turn my mess into something attractive. He wants to redeem my wounds and make me a beautiful representation of Himself. While He is gently trying to do His work, I fight. Sometimes I might even scream and cry. I argue. I say “but” a lot and hold onto the lies that have become such a part of me. Instead of staying close, I move away. The process of becoming like Jesus hurts more and takes longer.

I take over. I think, “All right, let’s get this done. I can make myself who God wants me to be!” I pour myself into Bible study. I follow rules. I serve. The trouble is that even in all the good things I am doing, I do not see myself from Jesus’ perfect perspective. I do not have the experience that Jesus has at cleaning up hearts and making people holy. I can do some good things, but I am going to miss some spots and Jesus ultimately is going to have to come in and do it over.

I don’t want to be the little girl fighting the brush or trying to do it myself when I cannot do it well. I want to be surrendered to the One who can take my tangles and turn them into a testimony, who can take my snarls and sanctify me, who can change the reflection in the mirror from a mess into a message of love and grace as I look more and more like Him.

In the middle of a hair-inspired meltdown, I often tell Brianna that it would not be so bad if we did this every day, if she took more care or let me take more care regularly. The tangles would not build up over time, but just be those formed by a night of sleep. In the same way, letting Jesus take the proverbial brush in our lives is not just a onetime deal. There is a first-time (big-time) salvation where He does quite a job with us, forgiving our sins and making us new by His shed blood, but we must also be available for regular maintenance. We need to give Him the brush daily. Sometimes without warning we fall into old habits, moving away and fighting or trying to do it all on our own. In those times, do not give up hope. Do not succumb to the feelings of failure. Do not assume the tangles are back to stay. Give back the brush. He is faithful, and His mercies are new.

Kristyn Woodworth is a conference ministerial candidate in the Southern Michigan Conference.


  1. Can you relate to the author’s perspective?
  2. How can you see yourself from Jesus’ perspective?

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