Today I was blessed to take a precious friend to buy a wig, with funds graciously supplied by her Life Group. Her chemo treatments will cause her hair to fall out soon. I understand how important it is for a girl to have hair.
My most dreadful hair experience began when I was just in First Grade. My hair began to break off and left patches of baldness. I was diagnosed with a form of scalp ringworm which proved to be very stubborn. The treatment involved shaving my head and applying medications daily. I was left with just enough hair to have bangs. A purple light was used to track the progress of the ringworm. Places where the disease was active would show up as green under this purple light.
Even a 6 year old girl doesn’t want to be bald. My mother sewed little bonnets that matched my home-made dresses to cover my bald head. My first and second grade pictures look like I was dressed for a Little House on the Prairie episode. Other kids asked questions about why I always wore those funny hats and some even suggested maybe I didn’t have hair. I didn’t want them to notice; I wanted to be like the other kids—those who had hair.
Unfortunately the medications only slowed it down and for the major portion of two years I wore little bonnets to cover my lack of hair. I recall leaving the house one morning while it was still dark. My parents were driving me to the city three hours away to see a specialist who they hoped could provide a cure. It’s my first memory of seeing a sunrise and many times I asked, “Are we almost there?” Kids haven’t changed all that much, have they?
The specialist gave us a new medication which caused painful blisters all over my head, but did not bring the wished-for cure. When summer came, I was placed outside in the sun with my scalp exposed in the hope that Eastern Washington’s hot sunshine would cure this nasty fungal infection. It did not.
I was well into the second year battling this stubborn ringworm, when I went to church with my aunt. It was a Pentecostal church, and they had a team of evangelists visiting. They gave an invitation for anyone who wanted to be healed to come forward, to be anointed with oil, and prayed over for healing. I was one who definitely wanted to be healed, so I marched my little seven-year-old body to the front, fully expecting God to heal me.
After the service was over, I very confidently announced to my parents that I had been healed—not even an ounce of doubt. I knew I had been touched by God and I had been healed, but that blasted purple light told a different story. I begged my mother to not use the medication as I was so confident that I had been healed. Surprisingly, my mother stopped putting the medication on my head. I’m sure that would be considered child-abuse today, but she honored the pure faith of a little girl.
The purple light was not encouraging. Instead of shrinking, the ringworm began to spread until my father angrily asked her, “Are you going to let that ringworm eat her whole head?” It had been two weeks since I had announced my healing. My mother’s faith was being tested too. At that point Mom replied, “I guess if God can’t heal it, I will.”
The very next day, the purple light showed no active ringworm—none. It was totally gone, healed completely. As I look back on that experience, I realize it gave me compassion for any woman who loses her hair. I know what it’s like to be bald. More important than that, it gave me my first real experience with a powerful God who can heal what the specialists and the medications can’t touch.