A few months ago, I found myself sitting in the turny chair with the up and down pump and sporting a fashionable cape. My hair stylist is cutting away when she stops and says to me, “Oh look, the first one!” The first what? “You have a grey hair!” She was so excited about it. No, it couldn’t be. “We’ll call it blonde,” I assured her (and myself). Honestly, it’s hard to tell. I’ve never dyed it and still refuse to. I am 27 years old. I planned on grey hair when I turned 40. I would accept it then. Later. When I got home that day, I looked closely in the mirror. I spotted the one she meant and promptly plucked it out! It grew back. I might as well embrace it.
The best asset of youth is the strength of the body,
but the beauty of experience is gray hair.
I’ve never particularly liked the color. I always thought it was so blah. Black or white! Make up your mind. None of this in between stuff. Or just wear brown and avoid the conundrum altogether. Yet for some unknown reason in recent months, I’ve noticed a pattern…I’ve started buying things that are grey. It started with a purse. It’s a shiny grey, and I thought well that will match anything! Then a hoodie, hair ties, nail polish, boots. It spread further. Our newly painted kitchen cupboards are now grey.
But what about the grey areas of my life? Those vague unknowns have always driven me bonkers! I like things planned, organized, scheduled, defined. Grey is rarely that. It is unclear, disguised, hidden, a mystery not yet revealed.
Could it be possible that I am learning to love not only this cryptic color but also the cloudy perceptions of my life?
Teaching abroad in Europe a couple years ago, I lived in the grey. Lit-er-al-ly. The sky was a constant shade of clouds. Plus I was thrown into lesson planning for the first time, without a curriculum. Going to the bank and the post office and actually accomplishing what I intended to was considered a major victory. Seriously. I would celebrate with a pastry! Communicating in a foreign language rarely happened without someone thinking I have the overall intellect of one of my fourth grade students. Staying in hostels while traveling by train, plane, bus, metro, foot, and car was never predictable. My life was a giant question mark daily there. And yet, I loved it. I actually thrived in that greyness. I found beauty there. In the adventure of the unknown.
You would think that change of how I operate would have continued once I returned back stateside. Well… in a way I suppose it did. Or at least I can say I improved. I still like to have things planned. This past year and half, my life has rarely gone how I expected. It’s not my plan or God’s plan. Not so black and white. It’s a jumbled grey mixture. I have dreams and desires and goals and hopes. Some I have tried to force to grow into existence on my own. I must instead wait and see which He will grow up in His time. Some days, it’s fuzzy, my future. I can’t see past this present moment. Does that mean my life is a confusing fog? It feels that way sometimes. Even fog can be beautiful.
Grey tends to have a negative connotation in our minds. It’s an attitude I’ve adopted for years, yet never acknowledged it.
What if I put on the lens of grace and instead perceive that I am a stunning mess of valuable silver?
Silver suggests a shiny state of precious worth.
What’s the real difference between grey and silver? Light. Heat. Sight.
What causes the “silver lining” of the clouds? It’s the light shining behind the grey darkness.
What causes silver to shimmer? It’s the heat that causes it to be purified.
Remove the impurities from silver, and the sterling will be ready for the silversmith…
You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver…
The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.
~Proverbs 25:4, Psalm 66:10, Psalm 12:6
Lord, give me your sight to see the silver in the grey.
grey = “old; mature; brains; power of thought; intelligence; a wise, experienced person” (1)
In the Jewish culture, elders were respected; thus, their prophesies carried extra weight. In contrast, our society values youthfulness over wisdom, and potential contributions by the elderly are often ignored…We should reverse those values wherever we can. Encourage older people to share their wisdom and experience. Listen carefully…Offer them your friendship. Help them find ways to serve God.” (2)
What if we not only appreciate the grey in our own lives, but also embrace those around us who have gained silver hair? They are deep rivers of wisdom we can benefit from if we simply take the time to listen.
And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to all who are to come. ~Psalm 71:18
Let’s honor the elderly in our daily lives. Patience in the grocery store line. Kind when they don’t understand technology. Selfless when they need help finding something. Not giving up on them. Simply listening. Let’s do some small things to make them feel valued, respected, and cherished. They are the refined silver.
silver = “a soft, lustrous, metallic element; capable of a high polish, precious; glistening; gentle; clear; eloquent; to make white, as her hair silvered at a very early age” (1)
If to silver is to make white, then it is to make pure. Those with silver heads have been through furnaces and gained wisdom I know nothing of yet. As a woman who just found her first grey hair, I still contain muggy dross. Yet I am a precious peculiar treasure to my Silversmith.
As grey increases in my wardrobe and on my head, I think I’m beginning to embrace the unknown mysteries of my life. When I turn to God, when I ask Him, I begin to see the clouds do have a silver lining. With His lens of love, it can be beautiful.
Let’s not pluck the grey out of our lives. Let’s call it silver.
(1) The Winston Dictionary: College Edition, 1946
(2) Life Application Study Bible (NIV), 2005