God provides in the most interesting ways – in ways that I rarely expect, or even want. And yet he provides.
I received one of the best haircuts in my life a few months ago in Thailand, and while I wished it would magically last forever, it hasn’t. It’s grown out into a shaggy look with split ends. The time has been approaching for a new haircut. But haircuts cost money, and I have no income. What to do…
A few days ago I was chatting on the phone with my friend Lauren, who just so happens to be my hairstylist here in the States. We were talking about life and change and her upcoming wedding, when out of no where she asked me if I wanted a free haircut. “Um, yes? I mean, why?” She told me that she was interviewing at a hair salon, and needed a model for the interview. Well what do you know, I love modeling! And free haircuts. So I went to the “interview” today and received a free haircut. Thanks, God. Oh, and you too, Lauren. The ‘do looks great.
After my modeling session I drove to Polaris mall to be part of a taste testing group for gum. By the end of my second testing tomorrow, I’ll have chewed six pieces of gum for two hours, which is equivalent to $60 worth of work, apparently.
When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was the cute guy in the office, but no, I would not fantasize. Or flirt. He asked me if I was a student. I said I wasn’t. “What are you?” he asked. “A…person?” I replied. He stared at me for a second, and then said, “Sounds good to me.” He walked away and I thought about how I can be so awkward sometimes, and hopefully some guy will find it endearing one day.
So then me and the rest of the rats (aka other taste testers) were placed in front of computers. We were told to take a bite of a saltine cracker and take a sip of water to “clear our palate” – and then a piece of gum was brought to us on a paper plate.
The first question we had to answer was about the appearance of the gum. Then we had to chew the gum and answer all these questions about the freshness and coolness and firmness and sweetness of the gum. And then we had to chew it for twenty minutes and answer all the questions again. We did this with three different pieces of gum (making sure to clear our palate each time in between.)
As I was sitting there, chomping on my gum and pondering the level of “coolness” it brought to my mouth, I thought about how ridiculous this all was. IT’S A PIECE OF GUM.
I thought about the discussion my small group had on Monday night. We talked about how we are called as Christians to live simply, but how hard that is to do in America, because advertising is being shoved in our faces everywhere we turn. We discussed how marketers aim at our five sense to lure us into buying things. It’s so true. Stores play a certain kind of music to make us want to buy things (Christmas music included), looking at a certain combination of colors actually makes us hungry, and smell is used to conjure up fond memories and whatnot. I mean, look at how far they are going to market a piece of GUM.
We’re told that Americans are exposed to 3,000 advertisements a day, and I used to think that was an exaggerated number. But after working on the mountain for a summer, where I was surrounded by nothing but trees and grass and sky, I realized how true that figure must be. Because I would come down the mountain and enter into the “real world” and instantly feel the difference. I was completely content on the mountain. I didn’t need anything but the clothes on my back and the friends by my side. But when I was down the mountain, even just for a night, I could sense an insecure discontentment seep into my soul.
And it’s just different in the rest of the world (at least where I’ve been.) Yeah, there’s still advertising. But it doesn’t seem as threatening, as all-consuming. It’s tamer, in a way.
To me, living in America is exhausting. Because the American lifestyle is pretty much the exact opposite of what the Christian lifestyle should be. America tells us that we need things and stuff to make us happy, Jesus tells us to leave our possessions behind and follow him. America tells us to work as hard as we can to earn as much as we can, Jesus tells us it is by grace we have been saved. America tells us that we are the most important person in the world, Jesus commands us to put others before ourselves. America tells us to hoard our money away in savings accounts, Jesus tells we can’t serve both God and money. America tells us to be busy at all times (whether with work or friends or entertainment), Jesus gives us an example of peaceful solitude. America tells us to get even, Jesus tells us to forgive. America tells us to complain, that the customer is always right, Jesus tells us to give thanks. America tells us to believe in what can be scientifically proven, Jesus tells us to believe in the unseen. America tells us to care about fashion, Jesus tells us to not worry about our clothes. America tells us to judge based on physical appearance, Jesus tells us it’s the heart that matters. America tells us to indulge in instant gratification, Jesus says our reward is in heaven. America this, Jesus that. America this, Jesus that. And so on and so forth and AHHHHHHHH!
All these thoughts from a piece of gum – can you believe it?
I was telling a girl from my small group that so much of the stress and pressure I had put on myself to find a job was because of this American mindset – and how I found complete freedom when I just let it go and only focused on GOD. I’m glad I didn’t get that YMCA job, because it helped me to get over my need to work, my need to perform, my need to earn, my need to be the way I’m told I’m “supposed” to be.
Also, random side note: I discovered the girl’s husband used to have the exact job that I applied for – he left and that’s why they were looking for someone new. Isn’t that kind of weird? She knows the lady who interviewed me, and she told me that the person who ended up getting the job had worked at the YMCA for like five years or something, so that made me feel better.
Anyhoo. God is good because even though I don’t have an income, I have a new haircut and nice smelling breath. That’s all I really wanted to say.