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As a boy, I hated giving up summer freedoms for the confinements of a new school year. Stiff new jeans, unsharpened pencils and early morning oatmeal were no competition for bare feet, shorts and a bologna sandwich. I preferred sleeping in and crawdad fishing to reading and writing.

I was a little hefty growing up. “Big boned,” my mom would say. Being redheaded and freckle faced made me a little self-conscious. Like a lot of kids, I picked up fashion hints from afternoon television. These were the days of “The Brady Bunch,” “The Partridge Family” and “Gilligan’s Island.”

I was a comb over kind of kid. Your basic All-American haircut fit me fine. Trips to the barbershop were cool. Jumping into a huge chair with a leather razor strap made you feel like a man.

The barber teased you about getting a girlfriend, popped an apron on your neck and went to work. I can still hear the sound of those electric shears as they buzzed around my ears. The vibration and hum had a way of lulling you to sleep.

Sitting among men with faces full of shaving cream was part of my initiation into manhood. The fishing stories and discussions about past wars had a way of making you proud to be a boy.

The sweet smell of aftershave was your clue that your haircut was complete. A piece of Double Bubble chewing gum served as your reward. Initially the flavor burst in your mouth but soon turned as hard and tasty as gristle.

At the end of one summer, before heading back to school, I decided to bypass the barbershop, lose the comb over and go instead with the new, in style, feathered look.

I’ll never forget the panic attack I experienced as I drew closer to school on the first day of class. I wasn’t sure I could handle the thought of seeing my friends and them asking, “What did you do to your hair?”

I broke out into a sweat as I approached the schoolyard. I caved to the pressure as I messed up my hair and reestablished my comb over. Whew! What was I thinking? My feathered hair flew away like goose down in a windstorm.

In the coming weeks, my lack of courage and confidence bothered me. These were not the manhood principles I had learned at the barbershop. I mustered the courage and once again parted the waters. The results proved positive as a few girls I admired took notice of my new hairdo and liked it.

What is the point? I’d give anything for a part in my hair today. No, not really. The point is, like it or not, people are watching us every day. We serve as examples for what it means to be Christ followers. Like the men in the barbershop, I hope to serve as a lasting source of encouragement and confidence for others. Bad hair days or not, our lives can always make a lasting difference.

Author: Ray Sanders

View more articles by Ray Sanders.

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