Now You Can Live for the Applause of One
Most women I know wear their heart on their sleeves and tell a story with her eyes. Let me tell ya, in my experience as a “Thairapist,” I’ve learned to recognize when something is going on, sometimes within seconds of a client walking through the door.
For instance, one of my clients blew in the door of my salon with a little more huff and sass than usual, so I just got right to the point and asked, “Hey girl, what’s got you so riled up today?” She plopped her purse down, threw her phone and keys in it, then turned to me with a hand on her hip and fire in her eyes, and announced, “I’m grumpy Jodi, that’s how I’m doing. I’ve started this new diet, and I’m so hangry! And if I don’t lose a single pound this week, I’m gonna lose my ever-lovin’ mind!”
Okay, note to self: don’t offer her a chunk of chocolate this time… Bless her heart.
“I just see you.”
On a completely different occasion and with a different client, I noticed that she greeted me with her normal smile, but there was a little more sadness behind her eyes. After years of developing a trusting relationship with her, I wanted to get right to it because she was just there for a quick haircut appointment. So I asked, “How are you? You look like you’ve got something on your mind today.” Her shoulders sagged as she released a sad, little breath and replied, “I’m in such a funk, Jodi. I feel so frumpy and dumpy! I don’t like the way my clothes are fitting and the way my hair is growing out. I’m just so frustrated with myself, and I’m sorry you have to see me like this.” My heart just broke for her, so I reached out and grabbed her hands while I sent up a quick prayer for some wise words to give her. I looked her in the eyes, and these genuine words just came out, “Sister, when you walked in the salon today, I didn’t see all those things that frustrate you. I just see you, my dear client and sweet friend whom I love! I can’t fix your life, but I can fix your hair. So sit down and let’s get to work.” I gave her a spunky new haircut that day, and she left the salon feeling lighter and brighter than when she walked in.
Fast forward six weeks, and she came in for her next appointment. Before we talked about anything else, she said, “Jodi, I have to tell you that those four simple words you said to me, “I just see you,” impacted me greatly! They have been playing over and over in my mind since I’ve seen you, reminding me to not be so hard on myself and it’s given me confidence in knowing that those who truly love me see past my exterior and love me as I am.” Oh, how that blessed my heart!
Those words came not only from a Sovereign God who knew exactly what she needed to hear but also from a place of understanding within my own heart. I know what it’s like to have that inner struggle. I have battled that darn insecurity war off and on through the years of searching for my worth—longing to be seen, to be enough, aching for more.
Most of what I will share throughout my “Hair Parables” will be about my clients, but today I need to tell you my story. So, sister, get comfy because this Thairapy session is gonna last a little longer than just a quick trim. Today is all about a makeover: a transformative Divine Appointment that changed me from the inside out!
The Agony of Middle School
Like most girls, the insecurity battle began to rear its ugly head in middle school. I call junior high “The Armpit of Life” because it just stinks and is gross; your body changes and hair starts to grow in places where it wasn’t before. I became very aware of my shortcomings; literally, while everyone was getting taller, I stayed short and stumpy. All the guys started noticing the changes in the other girls, and I was just the simple country girl in the background trying to figure out where I fit in. I tried to be like the other athletic girls and play sports—nope, these nubby little legs couldn’t compete with my leggy classmates. As I entered high school, the search continued. I gave the whole “smart girl” a try and, nope, not smart enough to keep up with the over-achieving teachers’ kids in my class. It was also painfully obvious that I wasn’t in the popular crowd because my parents didn’t run in the upper-class circle in town, and I was plenty content with staying out of the drama that came with being popular.
There were two things that I did discover about myself through all that… One, I was the goody-two-shoes girl who didn’t party or sleep around; I loved going to church and being active in my youth group. Two, I knew I wanted to be a hairstylist! I couldn’t wait to graduate and go onto cosmetology school.
If I Could Be Queen
Senior year finally came, and every year in October my hometown has a huge festival called Neewollah (that’s Halloween spelled backward, if you’re curious). Part of this week-long festival is a Beauty Pageant where area girls compete for the crown and the title of “Queen Neellah.” I had attended the pageant with my mom since I was a little girl, watching and dreaming of my moment in the spotlight, waiting for my chance to shine! There were 38 other senior girls who competed with me, so I sang a Christian song for my talent (ya know, hoping for a little extra super-natural brownie points with God), and I got called back to perform it again on the night of the big Coronation, so my hopes were pretty high.
I’ll never forget the moment backstage when it came down to announcing the winner. All of us were lined up in our gowns, holding hands and anxiously smiling and wishing good luck to one another. The feeling I remember wasn’t an excited, anxiousness. No, it was an internal ache—a deep longing to be noticed, to be publicly affirmed. I pictured my crowning moment, my walk down the runway waving and smiling while the crowd stood to their feet in adoration. “Yes, Jodi is beautiful, talented, and worthy of applause!” Surely then I would finally feel complete… Enough… Seen…
Like any other pageant, there are several other categories to be announced before the winner. So, my heart was pounding in anticipation as they finally got through all of the category winners and came to the moment to announce the top three winners, starting with the second runner up.
My eyes were closed, and my internal thoughts were “please don’t say my name, please don’t say my name, puh-leeeease don’t say my name!”
“And the Second Runner Up of this year’s Queen Neellah Pageant is… Jodi Lankard!”
Crushed, deflated. Just smile and wave; act grateful. Don’t let them see how disappointed you are.
That didn’t go how I had hoped, but I was honored to place that high in the competition. So, I just kept plugging away, looking forward to finishing High School.
If I Can’t Be Queen
The August following graduation, I moved to the Kansas City area and finally started cosmetology school! This country bumpkin had to figure out traffic and crazy city living, but it was all worth it because I was pursuing my dream! About halfway through my schooling, our instructors presented the opportunity for some to compete in a hair competition. I instantly knew I wanted to do it. My instructors helped me prepare and get ready, boosting my ego with comments like, “We think you’re gonna win this, you’ve got natural talent!”
I went into that competition, again, with high hopes of winning that number one spot! I did the best I could, just as I had practiced and prepped for. I felt like I aced the written test, then performed a specific, timed haircut on a mannequin and finished with a fancy updo on a live model.
This time there wasn’t as much of an internal ache, but rather a hopeful and proud thought of, “Oh ya, I have this one in the bag!”
There will only three winners to announce, and they didn’t call my name first, so I figured I was one more step away from my big moment…
“…and the second place winner goes to… Jodi Lankard!”
Seriously? Same song, second verse—could get better, but it’s gonna get worse!
Crushed, deflated. Just smile and accept the dang medal… Don’t let them see how humiliated you are…
Have you ever thrown your hands up and had an angry moment with God? I know there are much worse things to get frustrated about, but to my fragile ego and insecure 18-year-old soul, this was definitely worthy of a meltdown. I remember driving home from the hair competition, just blocks away from my fiancé’s house, completely crushed because I had pictured walking in with a celebratory “I won” moment and now all that would happen is an awkward display of a flipping second place medal. I threw my hands up in the air and hollered at God, “When’s it going to be my turn? When will I ever get my turn in the spotlight? I’m so tired of feeling like the second pick. I just want to be #1!”
Listen, sister, I’m gonna tell you this right now… God is big enough to handle the full display of your emotion, but you can turn a very dangerous corner when you don’t allow Him the chance to quiet your soul with His love. I didn’t give Him the chance that day. I let that ache and anger get the best of me. I didn’t necessarily walk away from my relationship with God completely, but I shut Him out and put Him on the dark, back shelf of my heart. From that day on, I was driven to do life my way and on my own strength and grit.
God Had Other Plans
I married the godly man of my dreams, secured a job at a large salon, and, as they say in my neck of the woods, “put my nose to the grindstone.” I worked my way into a full clientele and top position at the salon within a few years of graduating. After much discussion and prayer, we decided to start a family and move back to our small-town roots, closer to family and friends. We were blessed with two healthy babies: first a daughter, Jalie, and three years later, a boy, Kaden. I absolutely loved being a wife, mom, and working part-time. From the outside looking in, life was good. But inside I felt the ache—that longing to be seen, special, accepted. It was still there, burning deeper holes in my soul and demanding attention.
Girl, it’s a good thing God was paying attention, because He began wooing and pursuing me, pulling me back in closer to His heart through attending Christian women’s conferences and reading faith-based books and His Word. He left the 99 to chase down the one lost sheep, me. He met me in the depths of my achy, wounded soul and His perfect love continually pulled me deeper into His big, loving Daddy arms!
Can We Really Be #1?
God is so much, but if anything, He is a pursuer and a finisher. And, Sister, we had a decade-ago conversation to finish. So, little did I know, God had a divine therapy appointment set up just for me.
I had just finished meeting with some friends for Bible study and prayer and was walking down the hallway of the church toward the door when a bookshelf caught my eye. I’m a huge book nerd, so I become like a kid in a candy store, nose pressed to the glass in wanting. But it wasn’t a book that caught my attention; it was this tiny little plaque with this message written in bold lettering, “Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite.”
At first, I was pretty turned off by that. It sounded like something a turdy little kid would say to you as he sticks his tongue out and runs away. I started to turn towards the door, but something about that little saying kept me glued in that spot. God now had my attention as He whispered to my soul, “Remember that day in the car when you hollered at me? Child, you never gave me the chance to answer. If you had, I would’ve told you that in my eyes, you are my #1! You are my cherished daughter, my treasured possession, the apple of my eye! It doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t see how special you are, I see you. I love you, and that’s enough!”
Look, it was like an America’s Got Talent, golden-buzzer-confetti-falling-from-the-ceiling type of spotlight moment for me! Everyone else walking by had no clue, but I knew that it was a monumental moment because this dark, wounded, and achy soul was completely cracked open to be healed by the Great Therapist Himself!
Right then and there, in the middle of an ordinary day, in the hallway of an ordinary church, in the middle of an ordinary town, this ordinary girl was lit up with the love of her extraordinary God!
I had a standing ovation from the only One who could give my soul the type of love, affirmation, and significance that I had searched for and craved my entire life!
I wish I could tell you that I’ve never struggled with insecurity again since that day, which has now been another decade. Every now and then, the scar and the scab of that old wound gets ripped off… But when I find myself looking to people or worldly things to affirm me, I have to intentionally remind myself of these powerful truths that God taught me that day. I am seen, I am loved by Him, and that’s enough!
Sister, please know this, let this wash over the deepest parts of you that ache to be seen and loved: God’s love is so intense, so powerful, so insanely personal for you, that His love (if you let it), will make you feel like you’re His favorite! Learn to continually walk and work in the spotlight of His love every day! Because, when you learn to live for the audience of One, you won’t be so disappointed by the applause of none. He sees you, He loves you, and that’s enough!
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
Gratefully His (favorite),
For more encouragement in discovering your faith, start here:
True Beauty is Found in a Woman’s Strength
Building Faith: Growing in Your Relationship with God
How a Woman of Grit and Grace Wears Her Faith
A Love So Deep, It Covers All Your Shame
What My Faith Says About My Purpose
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