Of French Braids and Frozen Hair. An essay on human nature.
I stepped into the exam room to face a frightened 4-year-old girl and her mother. (Apparently, somewhere alone her brief life journey she had an encounter with a doctor that involved pain. Can’t imagine where.). Tears were in her big blue eyes; her bottom lip trembled. Seating myself at her eye level, and breaking out my best and brightest children’s TV voice, I asked her if she knew of Doc McStuffin. The wheels began to turn. Her eyes lit up with recognition.
“Well, I’m Doc McKaren. And she’s my friend.” I showed her my stethoscope, my otoscope, and my blood pressure cuff. All the paraphernalia of my clinic profession. Just like Doc has, on TV. And the tears dried up. But she still eyed me warily. So, after asking her mother about the symptoms that brought them to the clinic that fine day, I turned to my patient again.
“Can I tell you a story?” I asked, seated on my rolling stool. Surprised, she nodded yes.
“Well, today…a princess came to see me…” And so began the story of Elsa, and Anna, and Olav, who eventually got lost. And the subsequent search for them–in the patient’s ears, mouth, tummy and back. While we giggle. It’s a trick that works for me nearly every day in a busy outpatient clinic. And I get the information I need to help her. And her mom leaves happy.
Kids love Frozen. It’s a great story, with a great message. About being different. I was raised in the 80’s, when everybody was really trying to be…the same. My mother once came to my 5th grade choir concert, and left shaking her head. When I asked her why, she said that every single girl had the same haircut. (Feathers, anyone?)
And my husband once saw a TV interview of young teenagers at a Madonna concert. The 80’s version of Madonna. And the young woman on TV was dressed in a leather jacket, torn clothes and curly blond hair. Like…Madonna. And when the reporter asked her why, she said, “Because I want to be different. Like everybody else.”
Shake my head. In mercy.
Another thing that was popular in the 80’s was french braiding. I never really got the hang of it, although I managed it once even with my thick wiry hair. In the Houston humidity. But now we live in Amarillo, (much drier), and I like to wear French braids at work. It keeps my hair out of my face when I am a looking in little people’s ears and listening to their tummies.
And we wear them on mission trips. A couple of months ago, I was with 40 medical and health professions students on a mission trip to the US-Mexico border. Seeking out the underserved, and those without access to care. Believe, me, they’re there.
And I came out to the vans in the early morning frost and fog (El Paso is a desert, and it gets really cold at night), and ran into a dietician student with a…French braid. She laughed and said, “We both have on our Frozen hair!” It took me a minute, but Elsa does have the coolest French braids. And kids today call it “Frozen hair.” Interesting.
What’s cool about a braid is that it’s not easy to undo. It doesn’t come apart accidentally. You have to want to take it apart, and do so purposefully. (At least, if you have thick, wiry hair!)
Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
It’s a Biblical principle. God likes strength. And he often does things in three’s. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Earth, Sky, Water. (I remember a game from my childhood called “animal/vegetable/mineral.”). A triangle is the most stable shape in nature. Three points define a plane. And so on. When it comes to people, he also made them in three parts:
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
In the Scripture, men and women are delineated as three-part beings. Spirit. Soul. And body. And like the earth, sky and sea, they are intimately related and intertwined. You can’t have one without the others.
So let’s talk about it.
This is the part of you that gets born-again. By faith in Jesus. That mounts that very still, small voice that leads you into good decisions and God’s plan for your life. It is your core; the essence of you. The part that communicates with God. Your Father. It is eternal and not bound to this earth. And it is not male or female.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:26-29
The word “Christ” isn’t just Jesus’s last name. (OK, it isn’t Jesus’s last name. It’s His title). And it literally means “anointed.” Like, with oil. As a type of the spirit. Oh, yeah. Spirit. That part of us that is very like Him. In the Spirit (where our spirits connect and function) there is no gender. And no…lots of other things.
But many people confuse the spirit with the soul. The Bible uses both words, but not interchangeably. So, simple logic here. If the spirit is the born-again part (if you’ve done that), and the body is the third part…what’s left for the “soul” is: the mind part.
Now, your mind isn’t exactly your brain. Scientists keep trying to prove that that’s all there is to us. They haven’t been able. BUT your mind is intimately connected to your brain. And the Scripture gives us clear instruction concerning the mind:
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12: 1-2
Your mind has to be renewed. Retrained. Filled with good things. Spiritually educated. Then, according to verse 2, you know what to do. What God’s will is. And the soul includes non-cognitive aspects of the mind, like emotions, intuitions and the subconscious/unconscious parts of us. And gender, birth order, and many other factors go very deep here. One simple definition I heard a preacher use of the soul was “the mind, will and emotions.” I like that.
Lastly, we have the body. Many people believe that their body is their problem. But, honestly, the body is just a follower. It follows what the mind says. And, if you get the mind renewed with the Word of God, it can trump any appetite, habit or problem.
And these three–spirit, soul and body–are woven together. Like a braid. With deep and complex connections we don’t fully understand yet.
Psychiatry has a concept called “integrated personality.” It means that everything in you hangs together. Works in harmony. Isn’t going different directions. And that you know you are.
Electronics talk about “integrated circuits.” Where everything affects everything else. In a complex way. God, however, chose a 3-fold cord as His symbol. Because it works.
So…care for yourself.
Feed your spirit. The Word of God, prayer, worship.
Feed your soul. Mind/Will/Emotions. The Word of God. Healthy relationships. Healthy boundaries. Positive self-talk. The list goes on.
Feed your body. Healthy foods. Water. Vitamins. Supplements, if you need them.
And exercise all three. And rest them. And get them help if they are injured or ill.
Maybe some nice doctor will step into your room with “Frozen” hair and tell you a story.