About a month ago I went to the local Sportclips for my once-every-six-weeks-or so haircut. Sportsclips uses electronic check-in, so everyone gets their hair cut in order, and you can see your name and estimated wait time on the screen, I kind of like it. They also keep your hair styling preferences in your electronic profile, so no matter who does the cut there’s a record of how you normally like your ‘do’ done. So if you typically get a clipper setting of four to trim your sides that’s what the stylist defaults to.
Knowing Each Other
When I walked in the door to get my haircut last month it was business as usual. I knew the routine; go to the desk and sign yourself in on the tablet. My name and estimated wait-time appeared on the big screen as expected and I sat down to wait. All appeared to be well.
After hearing my name – or at least I thought I heard it – I went over, shook hands with the hair stylist and we got to chatting as she cut my hair.
As we talked of things like kids and local churches, restaurants and schools I noticed at one point that the stylist was trimming my sides shorter than I remembered. But she’s the professional I figured, it’s probably right. Instead of asking about it I opted to continue with idle chatter instead. Besides, it’s a summer haircut and short equals cooler anyways.
But then, as she got to the back of my hair, and looked down at the haircut profile on the slip of paper she appeared a bit confused. She then called over a co-worker for input, and the two of them trimmed and chopped my back 9 until both seemed satisfied. Watching this impromptu haircut tag-team play out piqued my curiosity. Without my morning coffee I mostly yawned and shrugged it off until the cut was complete.
As I went to pay I noticed the name on the computer screen was Steve. “My name is Ryan” I told the stylist, “can you add that name to the screen so I can pay and check out?”
It was then that a look of minor horror swept over the stylist’s expression as she realized and then explained a case of mistaken identity. She thought I was Steve. And she’d given me a haircut based on his profile. She apologized profusely and asked how I liked it, and gotta say, having it a bit shorter does feel kinda nice. I joked that Steve must have better style, and wondered if there’s a Steve out there sporting a Ryan cut that is somewhat less than thrilled with my personal style, or lack of. 😊
As I drove away and pondered what had happened, I found myself initially suffering from a case of righteous indignation…how could she not know my name? I mean really, we’d had a 30-minute conversation.
But then I realized the opposite was also true, after being in that same conversation I couldn’t remember her name.
It was a judge not lest ye be judged moment, for sure.
As much as I pride myself in being able to talk to just about anyone, and finding common bonds in those conversations to chat about, remembering names, for me, takes some time.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the hairstylist and I are fairly normal. Studies suggest that in conversations between two strangers people are more than twice as likely to remember details like a person’s job, or hobbies or hometown than they are to retain their first or last name. How very interesting.
This experience, of getting someone else’s haircut (feel free to call me Steve for the next few weeks) and not knowing each other’s names is part of the human condition. We all struggle to know and be known when it comes to being in relationship with each other. Sometimes we succeed, and build deep, intimate, sometimes life-long friendships, and what a blessing that is. But too often our attempts at connecting with others fall flat. We fail to remember, fail to hear, fail to absorb and fail to understand not just people’s names but their stories. We fail to get, at a deeper level what makes others tick.
But God? He doesn’t suffer from the limitations of the human condition. Our reading today reminds us how deeply we are known by our Creator.
Our God has known us, by name, from our very beginning. And has mapped out a plan for us better than anything we could devise for ourselves.
Our God knows not just about our hair but knows the very number of hairs on our head. That’s something even the best of hair stylists could only guess at. It’s this level of detail and depth of understanding God has, of us, that far surpasses what we have from our bestest of friends, our closest of pals.
Our God cares for the smallest of things, like sparrows we’re told. And unlike our oft-failing memories, God doesn’t forget them. How much more are we humans, we children of God known, loved and cared for than that?
Even better our God wants to be known by us, and wants to be in relationship with us, at that same deep level. So seek ye first this God that knows us deeply, loves us unconditionally, and desires the best for us eternally. Draw close to your heavenly Father as he seeks to be close to you. And then go out and share this relationship with others, bringing care, connection, and love, as modeled by our Creator, to everyone you know. Amen.