Hair Perms Aren’t (permanent, that is)

Art Garfunkel, who looks something like my high school friend Dave

When I was in high school back in the 70s (ancient history to many of you), disco was king and guys got perms. I didn’t, but other guys did.

I remember one of my classmates got his hair curled so tight he looked like Art Garfunkel (more ancient history for many of you). And while I admired his guts and can now admit to a slight envy, I knew I couldn’t rock a perm.

Perm Rock! (AWP)

But if you want to see someone who really can rock a perm, check out this this one at Awkward Family Photos. That girl rocks that perm all the way to disco fever!

You know something about perms, though? They fade. They loosen. They grow out. They need to be redone.

They’re not permanent.

This got me thinking about how some people view their relationship with Christ.  Jesse Overholtzer, a 19th-20th c. evangelist, spoke of his early struggles in his faith:

“Satan tempted me to question whether a sinning Christian was still saved. I began doubting my salvation, for I was now looking to my conduct instead of to the merits of Christ.”

It’s a common struggle, but an unnecessary one.

As Overholtzer said, it came from looking at his own struggles instead of looking at Christ. He eventually discovered, though, that we should instead focus on Jesus and what he said:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30.)

Anyone who has eternal life in Christ has it because Jesus gave it to them, and everyone Jesus has in his hand is staying there eternally. This is a permanent arrangement. It’s a perm that does not fade or loosen or grow out or need to be redone. He’s got you forever. You are his and he is yours in a relationship that does not end.

Eternal life: it’s permanent.

I have this framed and hanging in my office, placed so that I can see it at my desk but it’s not visible to visitors sitting across from me. It reminds me that Jesus chose to grab hold of me even when I was in the middle of committing those sins that would lead to his death in my place. Those sins were killing me, and in fact I was already dead in my sin. He brought me to life, cleaned me up, and strengthens me with the power of his Spirit forever.

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19 Responses to Hair Perms Aren’t (permanent, that is)

  1. Beautifully put, Tim – what a touching picture, and I love the “perm comparison”! I was a teenager in the eighties, and unfortunately, the “perm wave” wasn’t yet over. So I have my own set of embarrassing pictures because I couldn’t really “pull it off”. Won’t post them though 😉

  2. Really well said, Tim! Jesus is the eternal, unchanging Rock of our salvation.

  3. Good post Tim actually doing a post right now on 1 John, myself. The question that often comes up is the question of habitual sin. As someone said to me recently “See it’s not about whether we sin or not. Of course, we sin it is the habitual sins, John refers to.” Then I reminded him that we are still all habitual sinners, we do not love as we should, we all are constantly focusing our attention on and substituting something much smaller in place of God. Then when that does not satisfy we need something bigger and better so we get greedy. Then as you did here I brought him around and said right before each of these sections in 1 John, John does something very significant he reminds us where our focus should be. Great post Tim and yes I’m back!

    • Tim says:

      Great to hear from you, Pat! That notion of only habitual sins being the issue doesn’t square with Scripture. In Romans 7 Paul says he sins a lot, not that he does the same sin a lot.

  4. Adriana says:

    I got my first perm, the day before picture day in 7th grade. My aunt had just started training to be a “beautician,” so she was new to giving perms and she left the curling rods and chemicals on too long. My hair got fried. I should dig out my old yearbook sometime . . . I remember a girl wrote, “space cadet” as a caption under my image. Middle school can be rough.

    I hung that same print in my husband’s office in our former house. I think I cut it out of a calendar. It’s in our basement now — I should dig it out. One of the most striking reminders of the mercy of Christ I’ve ever seen. Sometimes a visual reminder is just thing I need.

    • Tim says:

      You find Christ’s lessons in wonderful places, Adriana. Now all you need to do is post the picture on your blog so the rest of us can learn alongside you!

  5. janehinrichs says:

    Tim, I used to get perms all the time — not like the one above but oh, I love big hair! In the 80s (when I was in High school) I sure went through the Aqua Net Hairspray! Thank you for this.Thank you also for that picture. I had forgotten about that painting. It is so powerful.

  6. Jeannie says:

    Thanks for the trip back in time, Tim! (Ah, Art Garfunkel, he could wear a rainbow wig and his voice would still melt my heart.) But it is so good to be reminded that our relationship with God is founded on His grace, not on what we do. I find it so easy to get discouraged if I focus on my inconsistencies and lack of progress. That John 10 passage is so encouraging.

  7. caramac54 says:

    Oh tim, I love how your mind works! Hilarious and witty and thought-provoking, all at the same time.

  8. Mary Anne says:

    Interesting, isn’t it, how what we haven’t got generally looks better than we have got? My hair is very wavy–but I grew up in the (1st) age of Cher and the ideal among my pre-teen peers was to have dead-straight hair long enough to sit on, which I was never going to have. The only time I ever used perming chemicals was in an attempt to straighten my hair! There’s a joke that runs something like: “There are two kinds of hair: the right kind and the kind you’ve got.”

    I counter that with what a stylist said about people who hate their hair: “Just remember when you hate your hair that somewhere in the world a stylist is struggling to create that same look on a model.” 8-D

    I don’t know if I’ve totally made peace with my hair–more like an armed truce–but I’d like to think I have more peace of mind now about my self-image (and lots of other things) than I did as a pre-teen.

    • Tim says:

      I remember Cher’s long straight hair, MA. That stylist may be right; somewhere some stylist is trying to put my hair on some model.

      Frightening thought.

  9. Aimee Byrd says:

    “For he who promised is faithful.”
    Along with your analogy, we used to think that perms looked wonderful. In hindsight, we are pretty embarrassed by our past hair choices. Likewise, in our sanctification, God slowly reveals our sin to us that we used to treasure, that we even thought of as part of our identity. But in his mercy, God reveals how ugly it really is. He then points us to Christ, who bore that very sin on the cross before we even knew that we were enslaved to it. He is making us holy despite ourselves. How blessed we are to have our sin atoned for by Christ, and to have the power of his Spirit working in our lives now to mortify that evil, ugly sin.

    • Tim says:

      Bad hair perms as an allegory for sin – that is a great image, Aimee. I am so glad the Spirit lives in me and deals with my sin for me. As my pastor said yesterday, when you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit you lack nothing needed for life in Christ.

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