Holy Spirit Conditioner

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Photo 2016-08-16, 9 10 26 PM

We go through a lot of conditioner in our house.

My husband and I use extra conditioner on our boys’ hair when it’s washed, then we spray down their curls with a leave-in detangler most every day in between. We comb through the tangles until the ringlets pop and bounce, mostly because they can’t do it themselves, partially because I refuse to shave their heads quite yet. My younger son, whose hair is longer, curlier, coarser, can’t stand the process, but for the time being, I’m bound and determined to have one curly-haired baby boy.

If we don’t have conditioner, all hair-hell breaks loose. Gnarled baby dreadlocks stand in place of ringlets. A matted mess threatens the back heads, the spot a permanent reminder of the previous night’s sleep.

And sometimes, I must say, I feel like I’m in need of my own extra dollop of conditioner, too.

Because life, man: it’s messy.

Relationships are messy. Schedules and calendars and deadlines are messy. Political and racial wars are messy. The division that so easily exists between Christians–and the way we tend to forget that Christ remains the center, even when we disagree–is messy.

Sometimes it feels like everywhere I look, and everywhere I step, and everything I put a listening ear to is consumed by mess. My own hair a tangled mat of curls, I find myself reaching for a bottle of conditioner to pour like honey over my hair.

Is it just me?

Do you ever feel the same?

The other day I got an email from a friend whom I hadn’t heard from in a year and a half. Ours was the kind of relationship that when it was on, it was on. When we were in sync, and when we lived down the street from one another, and when we seemed to share the world in common, we were unstoppable.

But then things started to get tangled.

I could feel us drifting away, but instead of letting our friendship run its course, I held on for dear life. Thrashing in choppy waves, I grabbed the life float in front of me, I sucked in water instead of air, I cried out for anyone who would listen to my screams. Desperate for her, I neglected to let our friendship be.

So, I texted her. I called her. I showed up at her doorstep with a Say Anything-like sign in my hands and, with tears rolling down my face, begged for forgiveness, for whatever I’d done wrong to be made right.

I neglected to give her space.

Maybe I yearned for the salve of smoothness to wash over my insides, but it took a long time for me to let the conditioner work its magic and soothe the knots and tangles that existed within me. Instead, it’s like I walked around with a ratty head of hair for far too long, insistent that she was the cause of my pain, consumed by my own expectations of a friendship that she’d let die.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, she emailed me. As I sat staring at her words on the screen before me, a sensation of peace washed over me: I wasn’t angry any more. I wasn’t hurt by her lack of involvement in my life. I didn’t blame her, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out by having not been invited into her world as I once had been.

I just was–glad to see her name, happy to hear from her, excited for the possibility that we might see each other in person again.

And isn’t this how it’s supposed to be in friendships and in life?

We let go of the expectations we place so rigidly on others and on ourselves, and maybe by doing so, a little bit of the mess subsides. We give others the benefit of the doubt. We let them be. And when an invitation comes–which, inevitably it always does, even if it’s in the form we least expect–we accept it with gratitude.

We let the Spirit of Peace wash over us anew, untangling the knots, combing through the pain, calming our hearts again.

When this peace happens–if that happens, if we let that happen–the dividing walls of hostility are destroyed, between friends, between people groups, between countries.

Whatever the situation, whatever the mess, we are made new. At least that’s what a little bit of Holy Spirit conditioner did to me.

Could it do the same for you?

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Cara Meredith
Cara Meredith is a writer and speaker from Seattle, Washington. Her first book, The Color of Life: A White Woman’s Journey of Legacy, Love and Racial Justice releases with Zondervan in January 2019. She loves a mean bowl of chips and guac, long walks outside, and makes it her goal to dance in the living room every night.
Cara Meredith
Cara Meredith

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