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Ode to a good man

“The superior man is modest in speech, but exceeds in his actions.” –Confucius

Where does our strength come from? In today’s world, sometimes we need strength of mind more than bodily strength. It helps to be resilient when adversity strikes, when our days are filled with disappointment, and when we feel that taking one more step is just one step too many.

Life will hurl challenges like sharp arrows towards us, whether we are ready or not. It will place us in a situation where, despite the hardship, we must keep moving forward. The knowledge that someone will be there to support us when we are at our weakest point alleviates some of the worry.

Samson’s acts of service

Perhaps you know the story of Samson in the Bible? He was strong and born to serve. Samson’s strength came from his long hair, and his role in life was to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. For most of his life, Samson was dedicated to God, and was endowed with the ability to do great things.

We are at an important juncture historically. The #MeToo movement has highlighted serious issues about the behaviour of some men, which certainly merit media scrutiny. However, it’s good to focus on the acts of kindness by men who have integrity and are willing to support women at all times. This is the story of one such man.

Losing strength

Several years ago, I was going through a personal crisis. As menopause set in, my hormones changed, and one result was witnessing my hair slowly but surely start to fall out. As a woman this was a shock. It made me angry and frightened. It brought me to tears and started to erode my sense of self and femininity. I tried to see reason, telling myself I was lucky, because so many women had it worse, but no amount of reasoning helped. When I looked in the mirror, when I saw my hair all over the bathroom floor, my resolve to be strong left, and I felt defeated.

I just wanted someone to help me and someone who would understand. That’s when I met Paul. He was a hairdresser who came highly recommended by someone I trusted. On my first visit, I remember sitting in the chair, feeling sad. With a calm and soothing voice, Paul explained what he would do to give my hair a fuller look, and that he’d use organic colour. I wanted so badly to just feel a little bit better about myself, and I felt that Paul cared.

Paul’s acts of service

Over the years I have developed a lovely friendship with Paul. I have come to see what he stands for and how he treats not only his clients but the young women who work alongside him. He treats his employees with respect and it’s evident that they value him as a man of integrity who they can depend on and trust.

Although my problem seemed huge, I realised that Paul helped several clients who, due to cancer and chemotherapy, have travelled a much harder road than me. He has shared stories of the trauma that some women feel, and how he has encouraged them at their lowest ebb. I now personally understand the confronting reality of losing hair. It’s an emotionally upsetting loss and there is no hiding from what is so evident for everyone to see.

Perhaps the best thing that Paul did for me at that first meeting was not to say that my hair would grow back soon or make some other throw away comment. He listened, allowed me to speak my fears and he said, “Let’s see what we can do to help.” And that was just what I needed to give me my first glimmer of hope in a long time.

Hair does not equal strength

Samson loses his strength when his hair is cut, but in a prayer to God he asks that his mighty strength be restored one last time. I too spoke out my request, asking for the resolve needed to feel less sorry for myself and find solutions both aesthetic and medical to improve my situation. And they came. Eventually I realised that this was not just about my hair, it was about facing a situation with grace. It was about attitude, it was about seeking help and allowing myself to be vulnerable. After all, what other choice did I have? None. So like Samson at the end of the story, I have pushed on.

“Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.” – Misty Copeland

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