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The Color of the Holy Spirit

I left the hair salon not caring that my hair was three shades darker than its normal chocolate brown. Because on that day, it was the color of the Holy Spirit.

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I wanted the floor of the checkout line to swallow me alive. The cashier looked at me and then at the box of hair color remover on the counter. I’m pretty sure she suppressed a smirk. I didn’t blame her.

It all started a few days ago. My hair color issues, that is.

I’d been saving my pennies for a makeover down at the hairdressing academy — usually the best way for a mama on a tight budget to get a stylish look. Usually.

I should’ve considered myself warned when I first saw my stylist in training. Her hair was a watermelon red interspersed with dandelionish yellow. But she was friendly, bubbling with something special and seemed out of place in the trendy, upscale hair salon.

Right off the bat, she had things to say, but I just wasn’t in the mood for talking. I’d been looking forward to a couple of hours in a chair and just wanted to read my magazine, but I listened politely anyway.

Eventually the topic of careers came around and I mentioned that my husband worked at a local ministry. The conversation shifted immediately when she realized I was a Christian. I was surprised when she vulnerably shared the spiritual oppression she’d been experiencing. I leaned in.

She seemed to float from topic to topic without much connection in between. Of course, sitting next to bodyless mannequin heads used for hair cutting practice didn’t help either. I managed to pick up that her home life had been difficult, her marriage and divorce intense, and that she’d endured a difficult bout with cancer awhile back. My heart was moved by her pain and by the confused look in her eyes.

And I began to lean in to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

When she spoke of her mother, I heard Him say the word, “Jealousy.” So boldly, but gently, I asked, “Can I ask you something? Was your mother jealous of you?”

“Yes. Yes, she was,” she said without missing a beat as she painted my hair an odd color that resembled pureed carrots. “She was so very jealous of my relationship with my father.” Sadly, it had been more than twenty years since they’d spoken.

I listened intently. Eventually, the topic turned towards the women in her church whom she was mentoring. Again, I heard the Holy Spirit: “Ask her about her friendships with women.” So I did. “Can I ask you what your friendships with women are like?”

“Not good,” she immediately replied. “They are not good at all.” Men, were much easier to understand, she confided. I couldn’t help but notice the tremendous contrast between her struggles and her chosen profession. Even more so, the ministry opportunities presenting themselves.

The disjointed conversation went on as she cut my hair. The man across from me talked about the election as his stylist trimmed away. The woman listening to him drone on was getting her hair dyed. Eighties music played. Electric razors buzzed. Brooms swished. And I waited on the Lord for His voice.

“Can I tell you about my dream,” my hair stylist-in-training said abruptly. She lowered her voice and shared a powerful vision she’d had of her giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. The dream was so real. So was her confusion.

The Holy Spirit whispered the word, “nurture.”

As she finished blowing my hair dry, I sensed the Lord putting together the puzzle pieces of the morning’s conversation. The abstract to me made complete sense to Him and so I spoke. “I’m going to share something with you,” I said gently and discreetly. “But please pray about this and feel free to discard whatever you don’t feel is from the Lord intended for you, okay?” She smiled with eager eyes.

“You have an intense call from God to nurture young women, but you’re afraid of them — aren’t you?” She nodded in agreement. “But God is going to help you walk through the rejection of the past and through this fear so that your ministry can be far greater. The enemy has stolen something from your legacy, but God is going to deliver you and restore it all.”

Tears welled up in her eyes when I said the word “legacy.” She nodded and smiled. “Oh, yes. Yes, that’s true,” she cried. “Thank you. I needed this so badly.”

“Me too,” I replied and hugged her goodbye.

I went out the door not caring that my hair was three shades darker than its normal chocolate brown. Because on that day, it was the color of the Holy Spirit.

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Julie Neils is passionate about living a real life in a fabricated world. Digging beneath the surface in her relationship with God and with others is the thing that gets her up out of bed. That and fussy little ones. And a big ol’ cup of coffee. As a media relations and branding consultant, she has spent more than fifteen years advising ministry leaders, policy makers and authors on relevant, out-of-the-box communications strategies. She and her husband, Brian, live in the Rocky Mountains where she homeschools their five kiddos.

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The Color of the Holy Spirit

by Julie Neils time to read: 3 min