I walked into the hair salon expecting to spend the next hour seated awkwardly in a chair while the stylist did her thing and asked questions I didn’t want to answer. People walked around with silver hair, hipster glasses, cool jewelry, and edgy tattoos, and then there was me, a small college student who knew full well she was paying too much money for this haircut.
As over eight inches of my precious hair fell to the ground, accompanied by the metallic zing of scissors infinitely sharper than my near-sighted vision, the stylist and I entered those dangerous waters called small talk. Long chasms of silence stretched between yes-no questions and answers, with the occasional nervous laughter.
Then she asked about where I went to school.
I currently attend a small Christian liberal arts school located in one of the most suburban suburbs you will ever find. Admittedly, I often find myself reluctant to introduce the word “Christian” into any conversation with a stranger, and I was about to eliminate that part of it entirely when I sensed God just kind of look me in the eye and ask, “Well?”
So, I blathered on about why I chose that school and how its values were important to me, about how integral my faith has been in my life, especially in the past several years, not fully aware of what I was saying. She stopped me.
“You’re a Christian, then?”
“Yes! Yes, I’m a Christian.”
“That’s so interesting,” she said. “I’ve never heard anyone talk about God like that before.”
Not knowing how to respond, I asked her to share her story with me: her family, her work, her views on God. For the next twenty minutes she shared many personal pieces of her life story and the ways in which God (whoever she believed him to be in those times) seemingly did or did not fit into that picture.
It was oddly encouraging to hear about her journey, even if she did not consider herself a Christian at the moment.
We don’t merely learn about God from people who are “on fire for Jesus.” We learn about him and from him through the people all around us, in the most unlikely places where we don’t initially realize God inhabits. We’re each made in his image, and he reveals different parts of himself through each person’s experience, even if (perhaps especially when) that’s through the suffering that pushes someone away from him for a time.