The Appalachian Preacher is Abroad

It’s been a while since I’ve written because I’ve been in process of following God into the unknown.

I’ve been in Idaho for two weeks now–I still haven’t finished unpacking the boxes and I’m nowhere near getting used to the smell of cattle feed lots. However, I have found the nearest Starbucks and began the process of getting to know my new congregation as well as the community beyond it.

I’ve had wonderful visits with life-long Idahoans as well as other transplants from various parts of the country. I’ve found other West Virginia “ex-pats” (because we have a way of finding each other no matter where we are) and I’ve had unexpected God moments which have reminded me who I am and why God called me in the first place.

But probably the thing which stands out most prominently in my mind as I reflect on this move is a story that only goes to show God’s strange sense of humor.

Not long before I left my last appointment some advice was given to me:  “Pastor, knowing you were coming to an older congregation, maybe you shouldn’t have had blue hair…”

At that time I was running through the entire line of Manic Panic hair colors and the week I arrived in my new town my hair was sporting “Electric Lizard” (which was actually green, not blue–but people seem to remember it as blue for some reason).

When I attended Annual Conference that advice “maybe you shouldn’t have had blue hair…” was still fresh in mind. When a friend’s daughter asked if she could put blue hair color on me, I asked if it would wash out. “Yes” she and her mother assured me. So, not being the slightest bit hesitant about doing something adventurous with my hair, I consented.

Only afterwards did any of us read the packaging which warned it may take more than usual six washes for this brand to wash out of bleached hair.

“I’m sure it’ll be gone before I get to Idaho,” I said. After all, I still had three weeks. Surely it would have faded back to blonde by then…

Fast forward to the night before my first service in Idaho and my hair is still a pale pastel blue.

I stood in front of the mirror wondering what I should do and that advice ran through my head again: “Maybe you shouldn’t have had blue hair…”

I recalled that as I had packed up my bathroom in West Virginia I had found a box of unused black hair dye from that particular hair phase.

So, I rummaged through boxes until I found it. Because my natural hair is a very dark brown (some call it black, anyway), I had been using “Midnight Black”–a blue-black hair color which I had always liked very well.

But I had always put it on my naturally dark hair… not bleached hair.

I was sure it would be okay.

So, I apply it… I wait the half hour… I wash it out and condition it… and I go to bed.

In the morning I groggily walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror and hear that voice all over again, “Maybe you shouldn’t have had blue hair…”

I stared in disbelief. What should have been black hair was actually more of a very dark, navy blue. But definitely blue.

All I could do was laugh.

I had allowed other people’s opinions to make me feel insecure about how I express myself, about how I reflect my creativity and uniqueness to the world around me… but God made sure I wasn’t hiding who I am, who God had called into the ministry, from my first day with a new people.

I tried–I tried to “maybe not have blue hair” and there I was, staring in disbelief into the mirror at my blue hair.

What could I do?

I styled it in my usual spiky faux-hawk and walked off to church with my head held high. Because this is who I am. And this is who God called.

5 thoughts on “The Appalachian Preacher is Abroad

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  1. Lol! I can see your face in my mind! The only other person that could happen to would be me. Hope you are doing well and enjoying your new stompin’ grounds. Donna

  2. I am Sharon Shupe and until three years ago, I was a member of the United Methodist Church. I moved to Boise and transferred my membership here to Amity Campus part of the Cathedral of the Rockies. I love the people in the church and the people of Gooding. I have read your last five blogs, I was confused by bombs and babies, I had seen the man and the glasses seeing color for the first time, I know your feeling of enthusiasm by the young boy, and I relate with you leaving home. I, too, am a liberal and mos times blind to the conservative. (not good to be blind). I have enjoyed this blogs, is that what it is called. I do not color my hair, but have family that color theirs all the time. Sharon

  3. This was terrific. You have such more courage to do that than I would ever have! We will miss you here in WV, but look forward to hearing how things are going for you in Idaho! The best of luck to you!

    Harriet Peters ( David’s wife and an admirer of yours )

  4. I’m a member of that older congregation (to which I always ask, “Older than what?”) and I loved your blue hair! Sometimes you have to shake people up from their comfort zones. Hopefully folks appreciate your honesty and openness enough and know it’s not about hair! I’m glad you’re here, Amanda Gayle!

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