Friday, June 13, 2014

Hair and Prayer

I had a completely delightful moment the other day.

I opened Facebook to find a message from a friend that I haven't seen since the 80s.

It was from a sweet friend named Tina, who I met in college and spent an intense 3 months with in 1984.

We've communicated once a year through Christmas cards, but that's been it since we attended college together way back when. She had seen, through her husband's fb, that I was going to be in Tulsa where she lived that coming weekend. Could we meet somewhere?

Yes. Yes. Yes!

Didn't know Lou was snapping this.

Tina Voth and me

At Oral Roberts University, where we went, students have the opportunity to take mission trips. My senior year, I felt impressed and had the desire to take one, and so did Tina. We ended up, through God's gracious design, on the same one. It was a 3 month singing tour during which we went to Hong Kong (2 weeks), Sri Lanka (4 weeks) and Singapore (6 weeks). We sang, and sang, and sang - at churches, schools, camps - anywhere we could.  We shared our testimonies and sang songs about our great God.

During that time, I learned a lot from Tina, but I want to highlight two of them here.

The first has to do with hair.

When I met Tina, her long hair was cut on an angle. If you combed her hair to where it was all laying against her upper back, it was high on one side and long on the other. Can you picture that? I thought that was a pretty radical hair cut, and I admired her for having it. I would never have even thought to get that in the first place, and then to actually have the guts to do something so different than everybody else - who was this girl?

I quickly learned that this girl loved God with all her heart, mind and soul. She was (is) sold out to the gospel of Jesus and wants the world to know him too. We, and four other mission team members, attended training meetings and countless rehearsals together for months before we launched for our 3 month "tour" abroad. I got to know her well.

Gary, Darrel, me, Vivan (our Hong Kong friend), Tina, Sue, and Bill

And I kept looking at her angled hair.

I can't remember exactly where we were when she approached me and said something like, "I'm tired of my hair. Will you cut it and make it all straight across for me?"

That may not sound like a big deal to you, but for me, who'd never cut anyone's hair ever, it was huge. I told her just that - I'd never cut anyone's hair ever. She was almost nonchalant when she came back with, "That's ok. It's just hair and it's just cutting a straight line. You can do it."

And she handed me the scissors.

She had confidence in me - which gave me confidence in me. God used such a small moment in the scheme of things to encourage me when I was just a young girl with plenty of insecurities. The memory of it encourages me today - a slightly older girl who still has her share of insecurities (although, hopefully fewer than way back then!)

The second thing Tina taught me about had to do with prayer.

While in Sri Lanka, our team decided that, instead of eating lunch one day, we would fast and pray. I had never done such a thing, and I must confess, I was not excited about doing it.

I love to eat.

I knew it was the right and good thing to do, and my other team members seemed pretty fired up about it, so I certainly wasn't going to be the dissenting, "Are we sure this is really necessary?"

Time came for lunch and we met together for prayer. Our time started and we prayed - sometimes silently, sometimes out loud - just however we felt led.

Confession time: Instead of deep, fervent prayer, I was mostly in an internal battle with myself. I want to be here. I don't want to be here. How can I not want to be here? What kind of Christian are you? I want to pray. I don't want to pray.  Shelley, you are being hypocritical for being here and struggling to do this. I want to eat. Why does everybody else seem so "into it" and I'm struggling over here? Help me, Lord. This chair is uncomfortable. Is this doing any good?

Good grief.

During this prayer time, I looked up to see Tina, standing with her arms lifted to God. She definitely seemed into it.

Later that day, I talked with Tina about my raging battle earlier. I told her I had noticed her and how she seemed to not be struggling.

She proceeded to tell me that she actually was struggling. She didn't really feel like praying and worshipping God either. But she knew that no matter how she felt, God was worthy to be praised and worshipped. That was one of the main reasons she had raised her arms even though she didn't feel like it. Putting her body in that position helped her mind and spirit focus on the truth of how worthy our God is to worship.


Somebody else struggles when they pray.  I am not alone. Even on a mission trip where you're the missionary.

And somebody - Tina - gave me one of my first lessons in learning to pray/worship when I don't feel like it or when I feel like a hypocrite in the middle of it.

Thank you.

Thanking God for you.
                        For meeting you all those years ago.
                        For traveling the world with you for 3 months.
                        For staying in "Christmas card" touch with you.
                        For you hacking your husband's Facebook.
                        For renewing our friendship.
Thanking God for using you to teach me good, good stuff through angled hair and struggling prayer.

I have no idea what we were attempting to do

I feel the need to apologize to my daughters about my outfit.
I can't imagine it now, but I really liked it at the time.

Trying on fun clothes at a store in Singapore

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