After I was slapped with the diagnosis of Alopecia Areata (an autoimmune disorder that can cause almost total hair loss), I was left spinning and whirling in the darkness of my mind. It felt like I was in one of those movies, when the main character gets devastating news, and all of the sudden it’s like they’re under water. Everything becomes blurry; everything is in slow motion.
After five days of that, I knew I needed help.
I pulled a journal off of my bookshelf and I began to write…
“It’s only 10am and I’ve already cried three times. My mom and dad are being so sweet and supportive, but they don’t understand how I feel. They tell me that I’ll always be beautiful, but they have to say that… They’re my parents. I don’t want to keep being negative—I feel like a burden to the people around me…”
And then, by the grace of God, I pulled a daily devotional off of my shelf. My mom had given it to me about three years prior to this day—but this was the first time I opened it. The author referenced John 14:16-18 in the Bible, and the words I read freed me from my two biggest fears…
- I was not alone.
- I had help.
In that beautiful section of Scripture, Jesus promised me the Holy Spirit—God’s Spirit, who would dwell within me and be my Helper. I realized in that moment, that God was giving me everything I needed to survive this trial… And later, I would realize that He had also given me everything I need to thrive in this life—including that trial.
Every day after that, I recorded my thoughts in my journal. Then I would read bits and pieces of the Bible. Then, again, I would write out my reactions and responses to what I just read. It was like a written conversation, chronicling the doors of bronze that trapped me within the darkness of my mind, and then God’s words—bursting them to pieces and setting me free… One thought at a time. One verse at a time. (Psalm 107:14-16 ESV)
When I grew weary of the emotional pain, I wrote about it. And God gave me a greater perspective, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Though I felt the pang of loss every time I ran my fingers through my hair and way too much came out, I was simultaneously feeling an inner strength building within my heart, mind and soul each time I cried out to God. The outward loss was causing an inward gain. It served a purpose. A good purpose.
When I felt ugly, I wrote about it. Then God showed me this passage, “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV).
I realized how trapped I had been in the vanity of wanting to be beautiful on the outside—which is going to fade one way or another. For me, I acknowledged that it was fading quickly. So I decided to pursue this other type of beauty, a beauty that cannot die or fade, which is of great worth in God’s sight. And just like that, I wanted this new and meaningful kind of beauty so much more than any other kind. After all, God was the One who saved me and was delivering me from all of my fears—more than anyone else, I wanted Him to think I was beautiful. I loved Him, for He had won my heart.
I loved Him, for He had won my heart.
I could go on and on listing thoughts that held me captive and Bible verses that set me free… But that’s not the point of this piece.
What I want you to hear today is that God does not fill our lives with rules and regulations and thus make us miserable people. For some reason, I used to think that; I thought that by choosing to follow God I would be subjecting myself to an unhappy life. Quite the contrary—God fills our lives with meaning, beauty, and thoughts that are so much higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8-9). He sets us free.
No matter who you are or what troubles flood your mind, I hope you know that God—the Creator of the universe—is mindful of you. He knows you. He is acquainted with all of your ways, and He loves you… Even in your darkest moments when you have nothing to offer… He’ll meet you there with compassion and hope, and offer you a new heart and life. Please, friend, accept it. (Psalm 8:4; Psalm 139:3; Romans 5:8; Ezekiel 36:26)
Read more about Ashley’s story in Losing My Hair Made Me Beautiful. Looking to learn more about growing in faith? You’ll like Beginning Faith, How to Read the Bible: For Beginners.