It may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t own any sheep. I never have. But I’ve seen the picture on the wall in Outback Steakhouse of the dudes shearing sheep, and I’m convinced that I’d be good at it. Man-handling a big, fluffy sheep and holding it down for a haircut. It looks like fun, like wrestling a cloud with legs. I’m sure that they have more advanced techniques for shearing these days, but I’d prefer the old school methods. I’m a purest like that. Anyway, I’m thinking about shearing sheep right now because I need to cut my hair soon. And if you know me than you know that my hair is not altogether different from a sheep. I usually shave it all off about 3-4 times a year (sometimes I time it with the changing of the seasons) and then just let it grow through each of it’s many stages, including the awkward transition stages, until it gets all Art Garfunkel-ish and I decide to shave it down again. It’s a routine that seems to work for me.
It’s crazy how much your hair growth effects the way you look. The change is slow and steady so you never totally notice it until you see a picture or something from a couple months ago and see how different you actually look. In that way, hair is a lot like the rest of life.
I recently heard it said that “progressive sanctification (a big theological term for the growth of a believer towards the character of Christ) is a dirt road and not a super-freeway.” And I thought that was a great word picture because it is such a slow and steady progression. And has no real short cuts. No matter how motivating and inspiring it sounds, there is no such thing as 5 steps to a Godly life or 3 steps to being a faithful husband / father / leader / you fill in the blank. It’s more like 3 million steps, or however many footsteps you have left to take in your journey through this world. And those steps will take you up mountains and down into valleys, through raging rivers and alongside quiet streams. Each one, a tiny choice that will in some capacity determine the direction and quality of your life. Millions of opportunities to walk blindly through the day, being steered by whatever is right in front of you or whatever appetite is calling out for satisfaction or to make intentional decisions to prioritize spiritual disciplines and patterns in your life that refine your character and set your mind towards God.
I read somewhere that it takes something like 21 days of a repeated action to develop a habit. This is true of our bad habits, which we form quite easily and unknowingly, like nail-biting and picking your nose. And it is also true of good habits. The one’s that we want to have in our lives. So, what will the next 21 days hold for me? Change is inevitable. I will be different in the future than I am now. I won’t feel it so much, until I look back on a memory from the past and realize who I once was and contrast it to who I am now. But it will happen, slow and steady, like the growth of my buzz cut into the Bob Ross afro that it will eventually become.