The thing about transitioning to natural hair – texture tug-of-war, thirsty tresses, and failed hairstyles notwithstanding – is the uncertainty of it all. It is the torment of not knowing. It is the present suffering on behalf of an unknown future. It is working toward something without a clear picture of the finished product. I mean, you know what it will look like… but you don’t know know.
After a lifetime committed to relaxers, with every day of this transition, I find myself studying the texture of the hair growing from my head and examining any shed pieces I discover, looking for clues as to what I can expect when this journey is complete. I have asked my hairdresser’s opinion. She has some ideas, but says it’s still hard to tell. I have studied other women’s hair and attempted to compare it to my own. I have perused blogs, YouTube videos, and Instagram pages. Yet I still don’t know. I see possibilities, even probabilities, but I don’t know for sure. And lacking a vision – not having a clear picture of a cute, bouncy hairstyle in my head – makes this hair journey especially difficult.
The thing about faith – aside from the challenge of stretching, growing, and molding into a more Godly version of yourself – is the uncertainty of it all. It is the agony of not knowing. It is the present suffering on behalf of an unknown future. It is setting off in a particular direction without a clear view of your destination.
You know where you’re going… but you don’t know know. You know the end state is better – beautiful, even. You know that your future is bright. You know that you were created to live the life that awaits you. But you don’t know exactly what it looks like. The picture in your head is faint and fuzzy. You have an idea of what is on the other side, but you don’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt. And it’s those shadows of doubt – casting their fear and confusion onto every sunny outlook and bright possibility – that make this faith journey particularly challenging.
The thing about uncertainty is that you are rarely as clueless as you perceive. You want your knowledge to be able to withstand the scrutiny of other people, when all you have ever needed is to know enough to convince yourself. Yes, you know… but you also know know – because to know know is not necessarily to have scientific proof, but to have a quiet assurance in your spirit.
Yet because most of us cannot be left to our own devices, oftentimes there are things and people on our paths to assure us of what we already know. It could be one of your girlfriends sitting beside you in the hair salon watching your hairdresser tame your tresses; perhaps she will remember your complaints of only a few moments prior regarding your lack of progress and how it felt as if you still have more permed hair than natural. Maybe she will look at all the kinks and coils atop your head and ask in bewilderment, “You can’t see that? You don’t feel that?” Or it could be the optometrist who checks your eyes after you go in complaining of headaches; maybe she will study your charts, ask you to read off the lowest line of letters you can see, and then offer an unexpected explanation: your eyesight has improved over time and you don’t need as strong a prescription as you once did.
If you are me, you will experience both. You will have your girlfriend beside you at the salon because God knows you’re so focused on where you are going that you haven’t bothered to appreciate how far you have come. You will also marvel at the optometrist’s discovery regarding your unnecessarily strong prescription because God wants you to know that your vision is better than you think, that you need to trust His spirit dwelling inside you and quit relying on external things to be your guide.
Stop saying you don’t know, because you do know. Stop saying you can’t see, because the view is just fine. You don’t require every detail to know enough for the next step. You don’t need a crisp, clear picture to have vision. Be honest with yourself and admit that you don’t believe. Once you do that, you can ask God to give you the faith to see that no matter how either chooses to unfold, He has already deemed both your hair and your future good. And maybe in knowing that, you can let go and let it be.
SheryLeigh is a woman who loves God, words, and people. She is currently living and loving as an author, blogger, poet, and spoken word artist in the Washington, D.C., area.
A communicator by education and trade, SheryLeigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University.