I noticed my first gray hair when I was 23 years old. It was one of those life-altering moments, when you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. I was standing in the tiny bathroom of my cute, little rental cottage. The sunlight glinted just perfectly off the top of my head, and Bam! There was my little gray friend (insert sarcasm).
The wise words of King Solomon in the book of Proverbs paint gray hair as a wonderful thing. He penned, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a Godly life” (Prov. 16:31, NLT).
At age 23 my gray hair did not feel like glory. And while I was trying to live a Godly life, I wouldn’t say that I had done well enough yet to earn a crown. And since I started turning gray at such a young age, you can imagine what I’m dealing with now as a 35 year old mom of three.
Recently, I found myself staring down the gray roots showing on the top of my head. I began lamenting my bad luck of going prematurely gray. I groaned about how I had inherited this trait from both of my parents. I glared into the mirror feeling sorry for myself and the beauty blunder that was taking over my hair.
After all, age 35 is not old! Isn’t that a change in perspective? When you’re young, you think, “Wow, 40 is like, practically dead!” And now, as that number is quickly approaching, I think, “40 is like the new 30! It’s not going to be so bad!”
But staring back at me in the mirror was that reminder that I was aging. Insecurities flooded my mind. I overanalyzed my entire reflection. Was that a new wrinkle? An age spot? Maybe I should see a dermatologist? Would I ever consider Botox?
My appearance became a source of pity, and I’m really good at throwing a self-pity party.
But luckily, thankfully, God is not one to leave you at your own pity party.
Philippians 1:6 promises, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (NLT). God keeps working on our insecurities and our selfishness. And that’s what He was beginning to do with me.
At this particular time, my eyes were opened to real suffering. I had friends who were going through cancer. I have multiple friends battling chronic illnesses. They are my age! They are moms. They are just normal women like me.
I was totally convicted. Here I was whining over my hair, something that I can easily dye if I want to, while my friends suffer with real problems. Isn’t it so humbling when God points out your shallowness?
And that’s exactly what I was: humbled. I knew my nonsense about gray hair needed to stop. I needed a new perspective. And God provided me with just that.
While Jesus was on the earth, He instructed us about focus. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” (Matt. 6:33, NLT). We are not to focus on our appearances or how we are aging. Why? Because that isn’t really what matters. When we seek God’s will, we will be given everything that we need.
No matter what we go through, whether gray hair or serious illness, God wants to guide our focus. We must focus on Him and His kingdom and live righteously. Focusing on God’s kingdom means we must fill our minds with things that are of God. We must think of what is true, noble, pure, lovely, excellent… (Phil. 4:8). But we also must work to align our will with His. For in God’s kingdom, His will prevails.
When we live righteously, we put ourselves in a better position to know the will of God. To know the will of God, we must “not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom. 12:2, NLT, emphasis added).
And God certainly changed the way I was thinking. He took my “gray,” grumpy attitude and replaced it with one of gratitude. I began counting my blessings. I had so much for which to be thankful. When I shifted my eyes to the blessings of God, I was able to see His kingdom all around me, and I could seek it wholeheartedly.
And even though gray hair may be a sign of a righteous life according to scripture, I still don’t think I’m worthy of a crown. But I do know that God will guide me as I seek His kingdom, and He will bless me as I continue to walk in gratitude. And when I am given my crown in Heaven, I will thankfully throw it at His feet.