What Growing My Hair Out Taught Me

rutger smith
Rutger Smith: World Class shotput and discus thrower

It didn’t take long for my Facebook feed and Instagram to blow up with comments of support and dismay when I cut my golden locks from my head.  Anybody who had come into contact with me between February 9th, 2013 and May 4th, 2014 knew I had a mission, a mission to grow my hair.  One day I look like Thor and in almost an instant I resemble Rutger Smith.   But to contradict common belief, it wasn’t for the looks; I began and ended the endeavor with the intentions of letting God teach me in a unique way.  Here’s what He taught me.



Encouragement is found in peculiar places. Yep encouragement can be found under locks of greasy hair.

People often talk of how growing hair out produces “awkward stages,” when hair begins to resemble the shag carpeting at their grandparents’  house more than an actual hairstyle.  It’s these dreaded stages which gives many people fear, deterring them from the growing process.

One of the reasons I started growing it out in the first place was to find complacency in my physical appearance and focus on other, more important aspects of life like school, sport, and my faith.  It was to my surprise that despite the awkward stages, I noticed my confidence was never hindered but rather grew with each new stage.  Each stage of the growing process brought about it’s own sense of achievement; simply knowing I had resisted to cut it increased my confidence further.

This exponentially increasing slope of my ego would eventually be the pitfall of the endeavor.



Patience.  Patience is hard, even waiting in line for a doughnut I get impatient.

My late brother Clint had always nagged me in the year of his passing to grow my hair out with him.  We’d consensually  agreed to grow out hair out together several times prior, but our attempts were usually thwarted by our girlfriends’ encouragement to do otherwise.  For my brother’s memory as my second means of motivation, growing my hair out would become a surmountable task.  But even with all of this positive reinforcement for reasoning, the temptation to cut my hair would continue to exist.

One could say resisting the temptation to cut my hair would build self control, true, but I beg to differ seeing as I still find myself wild at heart and frolicking with the devil’s devices from time to time. I digress.

Clint Erickson
My brother Clint

I miss my brother dearly but I’ve come to peace knowing he’s in a better place.  People often ask me if “I can’t wait to see him.”  My reply usually boarders around the lines of, “I would love to see him, but he finished his work here already, and I still have mine cut out for me.”  There’s no knowing of when our time will come, providing a sense of urgency to reach others with the Gospel. Reread that last sentence, I think that statement alone is a prof of how smart God is.

Growing my hair out took a little more than a year; I have no knowing of when I’m going to see my brother next.  So how could I expect be patient to see my brother again if I can’t even be patient enough to grow my own hair?  This is not just applicable to a lost brother.  There are other things we beg God to give us on our own desired timeline, things like the promotion at work, the house of our dreams, enough money for a new car, a family, a relationship, a chiseled body… sound familiar yet?  These things are not promised to us but we can be blessed with them or achieve them with time and the patients to develop them.


Good Intentions can’t prevent poor outcomes.  Cut plain and simple.

The reduction of my ego was a goal and the third reason for growing my hair out.  But as humans we’re very good at creating new idols for ourselves.  Just look at how quickly the Israelites replaced God with false idols, even after He had literally and physically set them free from their captives.  We are all slaves and captives to idols of our own making.  Sometimes without even realizing it we develop an idol to fill a void.  Only Christ can fill the void; any other attempt of satisfaction will prove itself futile.  This is exactly what happened in the process of growing my hair out.  As my hair continued to grow and increase in size, so did the attention I received and my ego.  I began to be known as the guy with long hair, goldy locks, or Thor. Subconsciously I began putting more emphasis on my identity because of my hair, and less on my identity as a Christ follower.



Giving up Idols… is easier said than done.

I fond myself in a conundrum.  What was once a small nobel endeavor had turned into a new self infatuation.  My good intentions had gone sour; I was starting to place my own hair above God.  How sad is that?!  If you ask me, it’s about as sad as the Chicago Bears trying to beat the Packers 😉  So what could I do?  I was given a little hint from this verse.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:30 

Besides, enveloping your identity in something as diminishable as hair is silly.  So give it up and let God take control.  I don’t want to be known as the guy with long hair, nor even as the track athlete, or even as a writer.  From my identity in looks to even unfruitful relationships, I’ve given up a variety of things which have replaced God as my idol.  The funny thing is as long as I live I’ll probably have to keep giving things up for the same reason.  I don’t want to be known as the guy with long hair; I’d rather be known as the guy who’ll follow The One who gave us His all, redeeming us of our sin and setting us free.


So tell me what do you feel convicted to give up? Feel free to comment below!



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