If I Had Oprah’s Money


Oprah Winfrey once said that her hairdresser gets paid to know every single hair on her head, from the texture to the color to the overall condition. Andre Walker is his name, and besides being “the best” as Oprah says, he also developed and named a charting system that neatly organizes hair into one of four unique categories.

I can think of two other instances of “naming a thing” that stand out to me personally. The first happened in 2004, the year when Montgomery, Alabama let its baseball fans re-name the local team. (Fans decided the team name should be the Biscuits, and the mascot is a huge orange beast that lives in Montgomery and loves…biscuits. You can’t make this up.)

The other naming spree was the original, when Adam was given the honor to name every living thing by God. I like to imagine that Adam was like dough until God breathed His spirit into him, and he slowly rose like bread in an oven. I think he walked around earth, raising a freshly formed hand that smelled like the inside of a Subway sandwich shop, naming beings as he went along. And everywhere he went a panting deer or a wolf would raise its head from a stream and say, “Dude, something smells sooo good.”

Oprah’s hairdresser will forever be known for naming hair, and she’ll forever get all of his expertise. Unfortunately, I’m not so lucky. No, no, you see when a person like myself uses a horrible conditioner that causes my hair to turn weak and brittle, I am left to consult with a woman named Pam. Sister Pam, as she’s known to most congregation members of our Church, is never short on advice. I showed her how damaged my hair had become, and she wasted no time whacking at it with a comb. Nor did she waste time selling me another one of her “tips.”

“What you’re gonna do is go buy a big coconut. Get the kind with hair on it from the store. Crack it open, and break up the shell into small pieces. Then put the pieces in a jar, and let all the brown soak off of the shells. Then you’re gonna heat that brown water up to boiling, lie down on a bed and put your head in that pot. …When you sit up, all of the brown will be soaked into your hair, and your hair will snap back.”

Everyone within ear shot looked at her like she had finally lost it, but she was too busy weaving bobby pins up and through my hair to notice. By this point she was humming a little tune, congratulating herself.

Then she cocked her hip, pointed at me in the mirror with a hot curling iron and said, “And don’t tell anybody my secrets!”

My White, Asian and Brown sisters and brothers will never understand how cumbersome my hair can be, nor will you ever be stuck breaking open coconuts. But surely, that’s what I’ll be busy with this weekend. And then I’ll take a crack at praying as though the thing I’m asking for has already come to pass.

Normally, my prayer time with God is a hike—we explore life’s terrain together. Sometimes there are mountains I’m up against, at other places only green grass where I stop to do nothing but offer gratitude. Recently I was seated in my bed with pillows behind me, just letting words spill forth from my mouth. My air conditioner sputtered and I opened my eyes to see what the matter was. Deciding it was nothing, I started to shut them again when I glanced down and noticed that my hands were tightly balled into fists. I was surprised to see that I had been praying in an extremely tense position, and it took me a few seconds to re-connect my mind and body, and then release my fingers.

What seems insignificant is not. To me, praying with such tense hands was a sign that I was not truly at peace, or frankly, confident in what I was professing. Yes I am focused and sometimes that means I clutch my hands together, but this was something beyond thinking hard– I was worrying. So, I would encourage you to take time this week to remember that we who believe are surrendered – not necessarily determined to “make something happen” – but surrendered to His will. Matthew 6:25 brings this whole point home so beautifully.

My clenched hands – letting go.

Our current jobs – I’m letting go.

Our future jobs – I’m letting go.

My hair – I’m letting go.

My stomach that I’ve been holding in – …is staying sucked in nice and tight.

But you get the gist. In most cases, I’m letting go.

What will be, will be. So let it go. And be happy you did.


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