When My Hair Looks Like A Van Gogh Sunflower

A funny thing happened on the way to work last week.

I’m in a hurry to get out of the house so I fly through my regimen of shaving, showering, brushing my teeth.  I rub mousse into my hair, get dressed, and run downstairs.  Grab a package to mail, then shoot out the door.   On the way to work I stop by the UPS store, where I regularly mail packages, say hi to the young lady who always works there, and hand her my package.  She says “hi” as usual, takes my package, runs it up.  I pay her, then head toward the door.

When I get to the front door, I see my reflection in the glass, and my jaw drops.  “What in the world?” I gasp.  My hair is sticking out in 50 different directions.  I look like a van Gogh sunflower.  Like I sky-dived without a helmet then sprayed my hair.  Like Medusa – you know, the mythological lady who had snakes for hair.

I feel my hair.  It’s stiff and dry.  It won’t flatten.  In my haste to get out of the house quickly, I had moussed it but forgotten to comb it.  (Sign of Senility #136).

When I see myself I turn and ask the girl who took my package (there was no one else in the store), “Why didn’t you say something about my hair?”  She says, “I thought you might be going for something new.”  Like the deranged pastor look.  Like the I-just-escaped-from-the-institution look.  Like I was on my way to audition for the role of a zombie in World War Z look.

So I drive home, rewet my hair, comb it, then head to work, looking as cool and hip as a half bald guy can look.

This escapade reminded me of a truth I heard years ago – we all have “blind spots.”  Blind spots are things about ourselves we are unaware of or don’t perceive accurately.  Faults, weaknesses or areas of our lives we just can’t see.

A few years ago I spoke to one of my kids in the patient, loving way I always do, and he said, “Dad, you sound angry.”  “What?” I said.  “I’m not angry.  And I don’t sound like I’m angry.”  My wife chimed in – “You did sound kind of harsh.”  “Harsh?  I’m not being harsh!  I’m speaking completely gently and calmly.”  Then one of my older sons said, “Dad, you were harsh.”  Blind spot!

Because we all have blind spots, we need others to help us.  We need others to adjust us and point out areas we can’t see.

David said in Psalm 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it…

I need brothers and sisters who will correct me in love – at times “strike me.”  Sometimes it doesn’t feel good, but I need to remember “it is a kindness” and “oil for my head.” 

But one of the problems with being corrected about blind spots is in our pride, we can refuse this correction – “let not my head refuse it.”  Pride makes us think we’re always right, that we perceive ourselves perfectly.  Pride makes us refuse loving input.  Pride makes us say, “Harsh?  I’m not speaking in a harsh way.  I’m speaking completely gently and calmly.”  Pride makes us think we know ourselves better than anyone else.  Pride – sin – is deceitful.

So here are a few tips:

  • Remember you have blind spots.  You don’t know where they are.  You aren’t aware of them.
  • Don’t be so sure you are right all the time – you might be wrong – just maybe.  (Obviously it would be extremely rare, right?)
  • When someone points something out, don’t be too quick to defend yourself or write them off – they might be right.
  • If someone criticizes you, they may have something legitimate to point out even if they correct you with a bad attitude.
  • If more than one person tells you the same thing, you should be doubly open to their observations.
  • If you just can’t see something someone has pointed out, thank them and tell them you will try to be more aware of it.  Thank them that they care enough about you to point out a weakness or sin.
  • Ask them to please mention it to you any time they see it.
  • Remember, no one knows themselves perfectly.  Only God does, and often he allows others to see our faults to humble and help us.

So please tell me if I ever show up and my hair looks like a van Gogh sunflower.  I might have forgotten to comb it.

 

Comments

  1. Andrea Johannesen says

    I love everything about this post–it's funny, helpful, and has great graphics! I really don't know if I've commented before, but I read regularly. You communicate things in a relatable, memorable way, and time reading here is time well-spent :-)

    New topic…has your blog "About" bio always said that you and Stephen both live in a van down by the river?! I read that for the first time today–hilarious!

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Thanks Andrea! And thank you for reading our blog – I'm grateful if it encourages people. No, our blog bio has not always said that we live in a van down by the river. Stephen put that up. I thought it was really funny too.

    • Jay Lyles says

      I'm right there with you, Andrea! Mark is a continual blessing to the body of Christ and the world! This blog post is everything you said it was and more.

  2. Elaine says

    Love this, Mark! As my children grow up, they have helped me by pointing out my blind spots. I'm trying to receive the correction as graciously as they give it! :-)

    Thanks again.

  3. lisa says

    I agree with Andrea — there is so much about this post to love!!! Thanks, Mark! It's so true — we all have blind spots, and if we knew we had them, they wouldn't be blind spots. "Pride makes us think we’re always right, that we perceive ourselves perfectly. " Good point!
    Sometimes a spouse can see and help, but for Don and me, there are several weaknesses we have in common, so we really need our caregroup and other loving friends to point these things out. Great post. FABULOUS picture. I will never look at van Gogh's "Sunflowers" the same. :-)

    • Mark Altrogge says

      Thanks Lisa! Yep – spouse is a good starting place but definitely need lots of others. At least I do. I like the van Gogh too, but he failed to include sky colors in the sunflower….

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