Long-term Consequences

The first time I colored my hair, I was 16. A junior in high school, and across the country serving as a Congressional page, I was swayed to turn my dirty blonde locks a strawberry-blonde shade of red. That lasted for a couple months, and then I began to worry about what would happen when my mom would see my hair — so I dyed my hair a shade of light brown. I managed to escape notice.

I was content for a few months, until one day in my senior year of high school, I dyed it red again. It took a couple days for my mom to notice. But one night I was in the kitchen, and she realized under the glare of those lights that I had indeed done something to my hair. The anguish she expressed that I’d colored my hair remains with me to this day.

However, that wasn’t the end. Fast forward decades, and color has been applied to my hair often. Blondes, reds, browns, even black once. Often I enjoy the color for a bit, but over time decide that I want to get back to my original color (which has changed in itself over the years from a very light blonde to a medium brown). Sometimes I’d have professionals help me return to my “original” color, only to have a familiar line appear in my hair about four weeks later indicating that the match wasn’t as accurate as projected. Ian once asked me to promise never to dye my hair again — a promise I flatly refused to make.

Which brings me to this year. In May, I decided I was done with color. I asked a professional one last time for help to get my hair back as close as possible to what it should be. Then, for three months, I grew it out (and yes, the familiar line was there, though very subdued). Then yesterday, I took a final drastic step: I cut my hair off. Yes, it’s short. Short as in Ian says he needs to cut his hair so my hair is longer than his hair. Short as in my daughter says I “look like a dude.” Short as in my randomly curly hair wants to stick straight up because the curl is all cut off.

Short brown hair

Short brown hair

Yes, it’s short. But it will grow back. And I’m finally rid of the color problem that has plagued me for so long.

This experience made me contemplate the long-term impacts of sin in our lives. For purposes of definition, sin is “any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense.” (Dictionary.com) It may start in the form of an experiment — trying something out when you know you really shouldn’t be doing something. We might try to cover it up or do it in secret. But our sin will always be found out. We may spend years — even decades — trying to fix the consequences from a “little” sin. We may hold onto sin because it’s comfortable, even when people we love try to intervene and gently share with us that there are implications. We may seek out professional help to try to address surrounding circumstances and issues. But to resolve sin, we need to take drastic action.

Like chopping off our hair, we may have to exercise some painful steps to rid ourselves of the things that get in the way of our relationship with God. Repentance is “sincere penitence or remorse”; with repentance, we should be doing a 180 on sin — moving in the complete opposite direction. Sometimes we can’t do this alone. I’d venture to say most of the time! We need God to carefully take his surgeon’s knife and cut out the things that are not of him. He is faithful; when asked to cleanse us, God will surely do that.

Does that mean the consequences of our sin won’t exist? No. We may feel pain for a lifetime for the choices we’ve made. What Christians should realize is that sin’s consequences are not eternal — we already know the outcome of God’s grace on our sinful selves. While we will need to be chastened, we can trust that God’s mercy and grace mean that our consequences have been lessened (really, death is the price for sin).

So I encourage you to not delay. There’s no time like the present to start chopping that sin out of your life today!

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