Authors note: It’s been a season of “searching” for me. In doing so- I ran across this previous journal entry- God used it to shed a spotlight on a few things for me- and I felt led to share it with you:
I asked my 21 yr old daughter Mallie, to accompany me to an African American “Hair Expo” that Ms. Margene(the director of Hope House) invited me to attend.
A portion of the proceeds were to go to Hope House….
Of course, Mallie had been making wise cracks all day- that the stylists are going to want to use me(and my hair) as their demo model….
Anyway- the driving directions I was given were as follows:
Just go on down 20th street, and you’’ll see it on the left…It’s called “TAMED”.
…So we are well down 20th street, long passed the populated medical center comlpex area, and are now on 20th street NORTH, which as you know, is a bit different from 20th Street South- especially at 7:00 on Sunday night.
On top of that- where we have to park is “less than desirable”… and by this time Mallie and I are having that visual, raised eyebrow, silent conversation with our eyes- that only a Mother and daughter can have…clearly communicating the same sentiment…”Dad would NOT be happy with this….”
Blessedly(provisionally) Ms Margene, along with her family members, pull up as we are parking- so I am at least briefly comforted in that whole “safety in numbers” thing.
Her family turns out to be as lovely as she is, and we have great fun visiting as we walk.
We get to the “salon” (remember now- this event is benefitting a drug re-hab facilty). We walk through the door- and I am immediately and acutely- aware of two things…(hard not to be, they were..pretty glaring in their dominance)…
1. Some very large…ahem…questionable? (translation: nude) Pieces of art work…..and
2. A fully functional, up and running…equipped with a flat screen t.v…… BAR.
So with some of the girls from HH on their way- Ms. Margene deftly develops a plan to deal w/ the situation.
The girls can have soft drinks, juice, etc from the bar- but can only order them if accompanied by one of us…problem solved.
I have now noticed something else…the more people that get there…the whiter I feel.
Not because I care, one iota- but because of the looks that Mallie and I are getting.
After an abnormally long time of “mingling”…and me trying to figure out just exactly where this hair show is going to take place…we are hearded, (all 100+ of us) to the back of the room, and up 3 - very old, very narrow, very LONG, flights of stairs…I’m guessing this is not something the fire marshall would sign off on.
I am also regretting that I didn’t inform ANYONE of our whereabouts.
Now at the top of the “stairway to heaven”, we enter into a big rectangular darkened room, with peeling paint, exposed pipes…and… 2 long rows of chairs – parted by a “red sea” of carpet.
……Did I mention that I know I am no Moses, and that there is also some really funkylicious, rap music, blasting through my eardrums at this point, too????
I quickly remind my self of three things:
1. None of this suprises God.
2. He can protect us wherever we are.
3. And if this is not RADICAL(what our pastor has been challenging us to be)…I don’t know what the heck is.
Mallie (who is very attractive and 6 ft tall) and being eyed by every male in the place from 16 to 60- leans down and whispers in my ear “…you REALLY owe me for this one…”
To make matters even worse- there are no chairs left.
Left me give you a visual here….Me and my pale face, framed by my blonde frizzy hair, standing alongside my 6ft tall daughter in a dark room, full of our SEATED dark skinned brothers and sisters.
Just imagine two sparklers in the middle of a blackberry patch- and you’ve got the picture
Do not ask me why- but…God is displaying His humor to me simultaneously…as I now have that old Baptist hymn-
“ IIIII haave deciiided to folooow Jeesus…III haave deeciided to folooow Jeeesus…no turning baack…no turning baack”….playing in my head along with the rap music which is bouncing off the walls :0
To the credit of my sweet HH girls- several of them have offered me their chairs… in seeing this as a small way to serve them- I politely refuse, in a motherly way.
Apparently an older brother observed the situation- took pity on us- and presented us with some chairs he had managed to pilfer.
Thank you, Father.
Well- I sure wasn’t expecting what happened next.
This young, very nice looking young man- sporting dreads in a ponytail- and a smile that would melt a glacier- says…..”Anybody here go to church today?”
The response was a symphony of hearty “Amen!”s. “You know it Brother”, and “I sure did!”s
I am feeling a little comfortable
Then my brother with the microphone asks us to bow in prayer…and what flowed out of his mouth was like the river Jordan teaming with mixture of milk and honey.
He asked our Father to remind us that we are only “Christians for a minute” before we become disciples for a lifetime….He asked Him to not let us be content with confessing who we are- but hungry for showing who we serve….and further pleaded that God not give us rest until we MADE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS.
Now….I know why I am here.
My dear brother then reminded all of us to visit the bar…and show the bartenders some “love”.
O.K. God…I heard you…they aren’t perfect… and neither am I. In fact- I’d love to be downing something from the bar right now…but I’m guessing that a Califonia Cabernet may not be in the selection.
And alas- the moment has arrived- time for the show to begin!
Three stylists have done some amazing things with the hair of 15 models (…seriously- it was stunningly fashion forward, and really pretty!)
The two “takeaways” I got from the runway experience were as follows:
* If you focused on the models’ hair and pretty faces- it left you less time to ponder the absence of most of their clothing….and
* I really should embrace the ample nature of my backside with more confidence!
God impressed on me early on to be supportive and positive- so I was sure to clap heartily for the efforts of all the young women…
Having no idea the price I would pay for it.
So, with the last model down the runway, and with the finale complete (I think) our young emcee with the great lookings dreads, takes the mike once again and says…..”Hey what’s wrong with y’all tonight- the only one here acting like they having any fun is our white sister here” (and he points at me)…now, he continues-“ I want y’all to crank it up- cause we got some prizes and we are gonna have a red carpet dance contest to see who our winners are!’
O.K….I don’t mind being a good example of enthusiasm and energy
The music has now been turned up to a level I didn’t even know existed…but I’m clapping right along and my HH girls are getting quite a kick out of that…my poor daughter- well I can’t quite tell how she feels about it!
THEN, my brother with the mike and the dreads, grabs me by the hand- and has apparently picked ME for the dance contest….
Nothing like watching someone make a fool out of themselves to get unified participation from the crowd.
…..I feel a weight descending on me… like how I react now will immediately define me in front of all my dark skinned brothers and sisters at this event- and will either help or hurt- how my HH girls see me from now on….
Humor- that’s a universal language, so I gently pull the mike to my mouth and remind the crowd that, “White men can’t jump- and white girls can’t dance”
Well- they LOVED that- but it did nothing to help my cause- as they are indeed collectively “cranked up!’….united in getting me to dance.
I notice two things as I am getting into the spirit of this (as best I can- and God has equipped me to)
1. A professional photographer is flashing away at this spectacle I am creating with the ridiculous movements of my 50 year old body.
2. My dear daughter in fluctuating between hysterical laughter and complete mortification.
I suddenly have a vision of the refined women from my small group…. simultaneously spewing coffee… all over themselves as they open their morning papers to the Social Events section- and see the photo of me- their church sister…. gyrating at a club called “TAMED” .
In north Birmingham.
On Sunday night.
Well, I craft an ending to my performance- and the deed is done- to my relief- and to the total delight of the entire crowd.
Especially my HH girls.
By now – who I am, and why I’m there- has circulated through out the room.
The handsome emcee takes the mike and says. “We have decided that not only a portion of tonight’s proceeds will go to Hope House- but ALL of it will.
Cheers all around.
And…. I have approximately 100 new friends
I approach my daughter with reservation- to make sure she’s still speaking to me- and asked her how I did….
She hugs me hard- looks me directly in the eye, and with a beaming smile on her face – says, “Mom- you were awful!”
“That bad- huh?”, I ask.
“Yep- ….I never saw that coming…but you were an awesome sport…and I’m so proud of you.”
Oh- and I also won the prize- awarded by applause !
A bag full of hair products- which I gave to my HH girls.
Mallie and myself, along with Ms Margene, her Mom and sister, make our way to our cars.
Laughing… full of the night- and the crazy, crazy, abstract way God works.
Mallie and I are alone in the car at last…and she looks at me and says, “I am very sure this is one night I’ll never forget.”
We’re both grinning ear to ear, so I decide to ask her what I’ve wanted to since I danced my last step.
“Can we keep what happened tonight just between us?”
She starts belly laughing again….and says “Only if you will pay for my therapy- I think I’m scarred!”
I went to bed around midnight last night.
I was at UAB by noon- a scant 12 hours later- visiting one of my HH girls, who had her newborn daughter sleeping beside her.
But not for long.
That little angel will leave the hospital with DHR- not her Mama.
I’d make a fool of myself…. dancing on 20th street- every Sunday- if God would change that.
As much as I’ve witnessed it- I will never get used to it.
For now- I am blessed with the unique and complete love from our Father… who has shown me patiently- and repeatedly- that He will never call me to do what He will not equip me to do. I am blessed with the love of my HH girls. I am blessed with a bonding memory between my precious daughter and myself.
And, I remain certain that He has even greater things in store.
For all of us.
If not in this life- surely in the next.