Feeling Like Jonah
Now I know how Jonah felt. When the dean of students sent out a pleading email asking for all female employees to gather at the girls’ dorm, I shuddered. She needed our help to eradicate an invasion of…lice.
I’ve lived through three personal lice invasions when our girls were still in elementary school. They brought it home twice, and I brought it home once. I got it from students at the public school I worked at when I did a class in hair braiding. Ever since then, I have avoided touching the hair of anyone outside of my family.
I quickly checked to see if the Navajo Language teacher still needed a sub for his afternoon class. If he did, then I would have the perfect excuse to avoid lousegate. Unfortunately, someone had already volunteered to sub for him.
I told myself I could avoid helping out because I had other much-needed work to accomplish for the school. But then the dean of students texted me personally, asking if I would help out. Rats! I surrendered, and promised to show up for a few hours from three to five.
When I arrived at the dorm, the party had already started. I snapped on a pair of gloves and grabbed a lice comb and started at the nape of one little girl’s neck. She wiggled and squirmed in her seat, trying to watch her dorm mates as they experienced the lice comb. I struggled to hold my grumpy thoughts in check. Occasionally I found a nit or a louse in the teeth of the comb. I shuddered and squirmed each time I captured the enemy.
Suddenly, I realized that the little ones (the girls, not the lice), had no choice in the matter. They couldn’t control their home lives or the level of poverty. I surrendered to the experience-I could choose to be brusque and let the girls feel my distaste for the job, or I could make sure they each felt valued and loved.
I started joking with them. When I found a louse, I dramatically ‘baptized’ it in bleach. The hours flew by. I ran home to eat supper, and then returned to the lice party. By this time, my back and shoulders ached from leaning over wiggly girls searching for tiny nits in long, thick hair.
The True Meaning of Surrender
The last girl I helped, an extremely shy eighth-grader, sat quietly at the bench as I gazed in despair at her hair. No one realized how long it was, because she usually tucks it under her sweatshirt collar. It hung below her hips. As I sectioned off her hair, I realized the only way this would work without additional clips and would involve braiding each small section that I combed through.
An hour and thirty minutes later, I had combed through the last of her tresses. She had sat patiently through the whole ordeal, only wincing occasionally as I gently combed her hair. We had an audience of high school girls watching us-most who exclaimed over my charge’s beautiful long hair. I realized that she had to surrender as much as I did.
She had to surrender to having a staff member who she didn’t know very well comb through her hair-something the mothers usually do. For a shy girl, it must have felt like pure torture. When I finished, I braided all over her tiny braids into one giant braid. She smiled shyly at me, and I assured her once again that she had beautiful hair.
I left the dorm that evening, pondering what surrender means. It means doing what we have no inclination to do with an attitude of joyful service. Even if we have to fake it at first.Surrender means doing what we have no inclination to do with an attitude of joyful service. #fmfparty Click To Tweet
Q4U: Have you ever discovered unexpected joy in a situation where you surrendered?