Last Friday, this picture showed up on my feed, and Facebook told me it had been a year since I’d posted it.
A year ago Friday, I chopped eight inches off my hair. Anyone that had been around me for more than two minutes knew that my hair was kind of my thing. I hadn’t had a major cut since the eighth grade, and I liked it that way. It isn’t that I intentionally placed any of my identity in the length of my hair, but it kind of turned out that way. I just couldn’t remember what I’d looked like without long hair, so I didn’t know what life was like without it. My life was two-bottles-of-conditioner-per-one-bottle-of-shampoo, blink-too-hard-and-it-gets-tangled, and just-a-trim-pleases. It’s so silly to write an entire paragraph about how the tubular dead matter that grows from my scalp had become my safety blanket, but it had.
But I needed to chop it off. Six years had taken their toll on my hair, and the damage was extremely evident. It was time for a change. So, without telling my mother, I made an appointment for May 27th and cut my hair up to my collarbone.
When I came home and showed my mom, she cried. I hadn’t seen that woman cry that hard since we’d had a death in the family. You think I’m kidding? My sister has a video.
Now, I don’t normally keep tabs on my haircuts, but I will never forget this day for as long as I live.
A year ago Friday, I chopped eight inches off my hair.
A year ago Friday, my mom told me that she and my dad were getting a divorce.
And when she finally hugged me and left the room, I used all the breath I still had in my body to lift my head and look at myself in the mirror across from my bed.
And there was a girl with puffy eyes and hair up to her shoulders, and I was scared of her. I was scared of her because she hadn’t shown up when my uncle died. She hadn’t shown up during the break-ups. She hadn’t shown up when I was wrapping a tape measure around my waist and purging water. She hadn’t shown up when I couldn’t get out of bed the year prior because I was losing against depression.
I was scared of her because my life as I’d known it was ending, and I didn’t even recognize the person in the mirror.
Eight hours after my appointment, I wanted my hair back.
**Now that the whole divorce thing is out there, I’m going to take the time to issue a disclaimer. This blog post is not about my parents’ marriage or the deterioration of it. This blog post is not meant to shame or gossip or expose. My parents are wonderful people and wonderful parents. They have supported me and loved me always, and they’ve parented me and my siblings selflessly. I waited to share this information because it is sensitive and personal for all of us. So I absolutely will not tolerate any judgment regarding my mama and my daddy. This blog post is about me-n-Jesus, okay?**
For as long as I can remember, my family has yayed God. If one of us aces a test or overcomes a challenge or reaches our destination safely, all God’s Millers say, “Hallelujah, yay, God!”
It’s the same as saying, “thank you, God,” but it’s spunkier, and we like that.
Now, for the days, weeks, and months following my mom’s announcement, I didn’t jump out of my seat to yay God. I spent an obscene amount of time in our pool house, actually, crying and screaming until nothing else would come out and begging God to help me heal.
For what I lacked in “yay, God,” I made up in “please, God.”
Now you might be thinking, Jeez Louise, Catherine. You are a twenty-year-old woman. There is no way you didn’t see it coming. These things happen all the time; it’s not that big of a deal! Get over it.
Divorce wasn’t a word in our vocabulary, though. I remember being young and hearing my mother explain to me and my sister that divorce was only an option in cases of abuse or infidelity. I remember being in the seventh grade and sitting in my dad’s office as he told me loud and clear, “your mother and I will never get a divorce.”
So I grew up with the knowledge that no matter how tense things got, divorce was in impossibility.
So imagine my shock when after twenty years, the impossible happened.
Poor me, right? Absolutely not, but we’ll get there.
You see, my family was fantastic. We were a happy family, and my parents poured all of their souls into our lives. So I poured all of my identity into my family. Mom, Dad, Madison, Bo, and I were who I was. It was my constant; it was my foundation; it was my stronghold.
My family was my long hair. I’d gone so long with it that I didn’t know life without it.
Here’s the deal with being a young-adult of divorce. When you come home for holidays, it doesn’t feel like home anymore because someone isn’t there that had been for twenty years prior. When you call home, you do so twice. And when you’re moving full speed ahead into a life in which marriage is finally part of the picture, you realize that your authority, your coaches, in that area didn’t make it, and you can’t help but think that your relationships with significant others, friends, and the guy that tells you for the five thousandth time that guac is extra all have expiration dates. Monumental experiences that should be met with sheer joy—homecomings, graduations, and weddings— are instead met with apprehension. You are forced to think that, at 20+, you may acquire new siblings that won’t appreciate or participate in you and your siblings’ rousing rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” or brilliant reenactment of the graveyard scene in The Goblet of Fire, using only cats as props. You have to accept that your child might call someone you do not know “Grandma” or “Grandpa,” and when they cry, that someone will pull your baby onto his or her lap and cradle him just like they did for you when you were a baby never.
That was what made my heart break a million times; there would be no consonance between life as I knew it and life as I’ll know it.
My parents got a divorce, and I broke my heart.
I broke my heart because I placed my faith, my identity, and my future on an idea, on the idea that this one part of my mortal life would never change. But people are sinful, malleable, and easily broken, and life is hard and unpredictable.
Burying my identity in my perception of my family was like putting a piece of fine crystal service in the middle of a war zone and expecting it to emerge without so much as a scratch.
You cannot place malleable things in a volatile environment and expect them to remain consistent.
That is the wisdom that God brought me when I begged for it. So a year later, I’m going to yell a “YAY, GOD” for my parents’ divorce.
God didn’t orchestrate the divorce. In fact, scripture tells us that God hates divorce, verbatim.
I hate off-key singing and ground beef, so I’m sure as heck not going to fill the world with either.
People orchestrate divorce. People are to blame if you want to play the blame game (but I’d strongly advise against it as it lasts longer than monopoly, and no one has ever won a round in the history of the world).
So I’m not saying, “Yay, God,” for the occurrence of my parents’ divorce. I’m saying, “Yay, God,” for the outcome of my parents’ divorce.
I strongly believe that God grants blessings in the form of opportunities. Blessings would be handed to us if humankind weren’t so darn stubborn, but God offers us them instead. It’s up to us to recognize them and graciously take them.
The greatest opportunity that I was given was one to reevaluate where my foundation had actually lay and to replant it in a place where it could grow and be strong while it was uprooted. I’m talkin’ Jesus, people. I’d thought that I’d placed my soul in God’s hands before, that He was my foundation, but I was using my family and all I knew as proxy, keeping myself nice and neat in my comfort zone and refusing to expand outside with Him as my guide.
So, this time, I had to give my crystal service directly to God to hold because everyone else I’d typically go through had fallen victim to casualties, and I decided what I actually thought about life and love and relationships with the guac guy because He had become my authority, my coach.
Y’all, the people and things and ideas in which we place our hope are hair. They’re used to identify us. We take care of them. We get used to them and can’t imagine life without them. They protect us, shield us, hide us. But in the end, they’re fragile. They change. They wear damage. We can trim and condition and care for them, but none of that changes the fact that they’re dead.
~Y’ALL READY FOR MY FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE?~
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
We are dead save for Christ. The hope we have, the strength we have, the faith we have—they’re all given to us by our Lord. So if we are in the market for some, we have to go to Him!
He is constant. He will actually never change. God as I’ve known Him will always be God as I’ll know Him, and that is extremely cool.
You know what else is extremely cool? The changes that have come in the past year are.
My dad and I have talked about how much we have grown since the divorce, and it’s incredible to experience a year’s worth of instantaneous heartbreak and joy. As strange as it is to say this, my parents’ divorce has been one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever received.
I want to navigate what’s to come with God and that mindset because I’m still scared and hurt and heartbroken. With every step forward, there will be two steps back, but for the first time in my life, I am guaranteed steps forward.
Our God is capable of taking something He hates and using it to help sons and daughters he loves grow. I get to quit taking lessons in how to love from my parents and begin taking them from the One who created it. God is offering me the chance to be happy and move on, and I need to take those opportunities as they come.
With every bitter thought, with every pity party, with every gain that feels like a loss, I want to walk with God.
It’s been a year since I cut off my hair and my foundation vanished.
Hair grows back, and foundations can be rebuilt.