Every year, I smile and nod at the same jokes. “Are you giving up shaving for lent? Does that mean I can give up doing dishes?” Or some variation of the same joke. I mean, it was like clock work. My tradition of growing my Easter beard started when I was confirmed in the Catholic Church in April of 2006. I have had this tradition, this commitment to myself for 14 years.
I wrote about this last year, but here it is again just in case you forgot. I grew out my beard so that, come Good Friday, I would be able to represent externally the change in me that Christ accomplished on the cross. It was an external representation of an internal truth. Or was it?
I found myself considering my tradition this year in a way I have not ever before. Was I conveying an internal truth, or was I trying to show everyone how committed I was, and thus prove to myself that I really was a new man? I have realized that I have a lot of negative behavior cycles (my term for addictive behaviors as it pertains to the mindset and decision making, not to the physical/chemical addiction). One of these cycles was the pursuit of external recognition. I often times need others to tell me that they see the difference before I will admit to myself there has been any change. I allow others to dictate my disposition.
Tuesday came up, the one of three nights that I actually shave, and I put the razor to my face. I didn’t realize I had shaved until about half way through. I had broken my 14 year tradition. This time though, it didn’t bother me. Why did it not bother me? Previous years I would have left my face half shaved and begged God for forgiveness.
The only conclusion I have come up with is that, right now, my outside looks more like my inside than ever before. I don’t feel the need to gain others acceptance because I know, or at least I am getting to know, who I truly am. I am the most me, right now, then you have ever seen.
Then I thought about some the example Christ. The Pharisees would often do these grand external shows to get people to believe they were holy. Christ did what he did, because he was who he was, and the people saw that he was holy. He didn’t need to tell you he was holy. I didn’t need to dramatize it. He was who he said he was, no more, no less.
I have chosen not to grow my Easter beard this year because I’m going to be me. I’m going to do what I do, and be who I am.